Livestock impact

That chicken breast, tenderloin, hamburger, pork chops or ice cream you may have had last night strengthens the Illinois economy more than you may realize. Ever wonder the economic impact of livestock to Illinois? The  American Soybean Association is making sure consumers understand the importance, highlighted in a new study.

Raising animals and processing beef, pork, chicken, turkey and dairy products contribute  vital goods, jobs and taxes to the state, according to a study by Peter Goldsmith, associate professor of agribusiness management at the University of Illinois.

“When you look at inputs purchased, goods sold and economic activity generated by profits and wages, livestock products and processing creates a $27 billion impact in Illinois,” Goldsmith says. “And it’s increased 328 percent, or $6 billion, since 2004.”

The industry accounts for $1 out of every $20, or 5 percent, of the state’s economy. Illinois is home to more than 30,000 livestock farms and a 200 processing companies that employ 99,000 people, according to Goldsmith’s research. The study was commissioned by the Illinois Livestock Development Group, which receives funding from the Illinois soybean checkoff.

“Livestock farms cause far-reaching ripple effects,” said Goldsmith. “For example, feed is a primary cost for raising animals, so corn and soybean farmers have strong local demand.” On the other side of the supply chain, having a strong processing industry improves the prices livestock farmers receive.”

Illinois processing plants are relatively close to their end markets. But Goldsmith’s analysis found that they import about 75 percent of their raw materials – hogs, cattle, poultry, milk or eggs – from other states. He believes there is potential to raise more animals in Illinois. Having additional supply near existing plants would trim transportation costs and provide more stability.

Here are some economic impact numbers to ponder:

  • Raising hogs in Illinois – $1.8 billion impact
  • Raising beef in Illinois – $.87 billion
  • Raising dairy in Illinois – $.53 billion
  • Raising poultry in Illinois – $.29 billion
  • Other livestock – $.05 billion
  • Total impact from raising livestock – $3.54 billion.

When it comes to processing, the study found:

  • Processing livestock and poultry – $16.2 billion
  • Processing milk and butter – $4.49 billion
  • Making ice cream and frozen desserts -$.37 billion
  • Processing fats and oils – $2.53 billion
  • Making cheese – $1.91 billion.


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About the author

Charlyn Fargo spent 27 years at the State Journal-Register covering agriculture, business and food. She currently is the Bureau Chief of County Fairs & Horse Racing with the Illinois Department of Agriculture. She is also a Registered Dietitian and writes a weekly syndicated nutrition column for Creator’s News Service ( and is co-owner of Simply Fair, a fair trade boutique at 2357 W. Monroe in Springfield. She has bachelor’s degrees in agricultural communications and food from the University of Illinois, Champaign and a master’s degree in nutrition from Eastern Illinois University. She and her husband, Brad Ware, have a daughter, Kate, and son, Jayden. When she’s not working or writing, she enjoys baking cookies for Simply From Scratch, a company she formed to support faith-based ministries.

View all articles by Charlyn Fargo

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