What agricultural goods are produced in Illinois?Illinois is a leading producer of soybeans, corn and swine. The state's climate and varied soil types enable farmers to grow and raise many other agricultural commodities, including cattle, wheat, oats, sorghum, hay, sheep, poultry, fruits and vegetables. Illinois also produces several specialty crops, such as buckwheat, horseradish, ostriches, fish and Christmas trees.
What are the characteristics of a typical Illinois farm?
Illinois' 74,300 farms cover nearly 27 million acres -- about 75 percent of the state's total land area. The large number of farms, coupled with the diversity of commodities produced, makes it difficult to describe a typical operation. However, statistics provide some indication about what it means to farm in Illinois.
The average size of an Illinois farm, including hobby farms, is 358 acres. Most farm acreage is devoted to grain, mainly corn and soybeans. Nearly 10 percent of Illinois farms have swine. Beef cows are found on about 23 percent of farms, while about 3 percent have dairy cows. Some farms produce specialty crops and livestock, including alfalfa, canola, nursery products, emus and fish. Many farming operations also support recreational activities such as hunting and fishing.
How does agriculture benefit Illinois' economy?
Marketing of Illinois' agricultural commodities generates more than $19 billion annually. Corn accounts for 54 percent of that total. Marketing of soybeans contributes 27 percent, and the combined marketings of livestock, dairy and poultry generates 13 percent. The balance comes from sales of wheat and other crops, including fruits and vegetables.
Billions more dollars flow into the state's economy from ag-related industries, such as farm machinery manufacturing, agricultural real estate, and production and sale of value-added food products. Rural Illinois benefits principally from agricultural production, while agricultural processing and manufacturing strengthen urban economies.
How are Illinois' agricultural commodities used?
With 2,640 food manufacturing companies, Illinois is well-equipped to turn the state's crops and livestock into food and industrial products. In fact, the state ranks first in the nation with $180 billion in processed food sales. Most of these companies are located in the Chicago metropolitan area, which contains one of the largest concentrations of food-related businesses in the world.
Illinois' agricultural commodities also provide the base for such products as animal feed, ink, paint, adhesives, clothing, soap, wax, cosmetics, medicines, furniture, paper and lumber. Each year, 274 million bushels of Illinois corn are used to produce more ethanol than any other state -- about 678 million gallons. Illinois also markets other renewable fuels, including soybean-based biodiesel.
How does agriculture benefit from the state's geography and climate?
Illinois measures about 400 miles from its northern border to its southernmost tip. Temperatures generally vary by 10 to 12 degrees from one end of the state to the other. Cold, fairly dry winters and warm, humid summers with ample rainfall allow the land to support many kinds of crops and livestock.
Much of Illinois is comprised of fertile flat loess, left behind by glaciers and wind millions of years ago. About 89 percent of the state's cropland is considered prime farmland, ranking the state third nationally in total prime farmland acreage. Prime farmland is important because it provides an environmentally sound base for crop production. The central three-fourths of the state are especially well suited for growing crops, while hilly areas in the northwest and south provide excellent pasture for livestock.