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Governor, agriculture leaders work to strengthen Illinois' livestock industry

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[OCT. 18, 2004]  SPRINGFIELD -- On Thursday Gov. Rod Blagojevich called together leaders of the agriculture community to lay the groundwork for future plans to build up Illinois' diminishing livestock industry. The Livestock Summit, which met at the Illinois Department of Agriculture in Springfield, gathered representatives from the Illinois Pork Producers, Beef Association, Poultry Association, Meat Processors, Milk Producers, Sheep Industry, Corn Growers and Soybean Association, along with various state agencies, to discuss concerns that will help in formulating future solutions.

"Illinois is the number one producer of soybeans in the nation and the second largest producer of corn, yet our livestock production ranks 22nd," Gov. Blagojevich said. "We have the land and the resources to build the livestock sector of our agriculture industry, create more jobs and optimize our capability to be an even stronger agricultural leader on a national and international level. In working together with industry leaders, we're searching for ways to best use those resources to stimulate livestock production and, in turn, the Illinois economy."

In 2003, the livestock industry generated cash receipts in excess of $1.5 billion and contributed $3.4 billion in total economic activity for the state. While livestock receipts nationwide have gone up 40 percent in the last decade, the trend in Illinois continues to move in the opposite direction. In 2003, Illinois recorded 4 million hogs, down from 5.7 million in 1990 and 6.6 million in 1980. The cattle inventory also fell, to 1.3 million in 2003 from 1.7 million in 1990 and 2.7 million in 1980.

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"Reversing this gradual decline of our livestock inventory is critical to the future of Illinois' number one industry," Agriculture Director Chuck Hartke said. "Illinois already produces the crop needed to feed its livestock. In addition, as our ethanol production grows, the byproduct of ethanol, distillers grain, would serve as a great source of feed for a growing livestock industry. These various sectors of agriculture will feed off each other, which will in turn feed millions of dollars into the Illinois economy."

Along with identifying industry concerns, representatives from the Illinois Department of Agriculture, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the Illinois Department of Revenue, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and the Illinois Finance Authority also discussed their roles in the livestock industry.

[News release from the governor's office]

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