"Trade-building activities like this are extremely important because
Illinois agriculture is an export-dependent industry," said Gov. Pat
Quinn. "My administration is committed to increasing the amount of
Illinois products sold in the global marketplace, and these strong
sales bring us closer to our goal of doubling Illinois exports by
"The results indicate there is strong demand for Illinois
grain and grain-related products and services in foreign markets,"
added Agriculture Director Bob Flider. "Sales are more than triple
the $53 million that last year's tour produced. Our challenge now is
to build upon the relationships started on this year's tour and turn
these initial purchases into repeat business."
The tour, which the department conducts annually, brought 42
foreign grain buyers to Illinois from China, El Salvador, Mexico,
Peru, Thailand and Vietnam. Stops included farms, transportation
facilities and equipment manufacturers as well as the Chicago Board
of Trade and Mercantile Exchange.
"The Grain Tour provides a venue (to meet potential customers) in
Latin America and Asia that we would not be able to visit at their
location," said Tom Runyon, president of Seedburo Equipment in Des
Plaines. "It is the best means of getting parties together to learn
more about our methods and equipment. We are always pleased with the
interest and results."
Exports account for 42 percent of the agriculture industry's cash
receipts. In 2011, the state sold $8.3 billion in agricultural
products overseas, making it the third-leading agricultural exporter
in the United States.
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This year, for the first time, the Illinois Grain Tour was timed
to coincide with the Farm Progress Show, where the Department of
Agriculture organized on-site meetings between foreign buyers and
Illinois agribusinesses. In addition, with the help of federal
funding obtained through the State Trade Export Program, an
international database was developed that collected information
online from nearly 900 Farm Progress registrants. The department's
foreign trade directors in Hong Kong and Mexico will use the
database to recruit for future tours and for potential export
The tour is just one of the strategies the department uses to
find markets for Illinois products, support agriculture-based
employment and strengthen the Illinois economy.
Last fiscal year, for example, the department participated in 15
international and domestic trade shows, led nine foreign buyers'
missions and industry tours, facilitated 9,030 buyer-seller
introductions, and disseminated 1,289 trade leads to Illinois
companies. These activities generated $61 million in actual sales
and another $206 million in projected sales for Illinois food
companies and agribusinesses.
Illinois Department of
file received from the
Illinois Office of Communication and Information]