R.F.D. News & Views

Tim Alexander

Iroquois CReport: Ag Critical to Illinois Economy

BLOOMINGTON – The agricultural sector in Illinois contributes more to the state’s economic well-being than many other industries, including the financial, transportation and construction industries, according to a study on agriculture in Illinois. Agriculture contributes around $120.9 billion of total economic output, according to the study, which utilized data from multiple databases including the USDA 2012 Census of Agriculture and the IMPLAN modeling system to arrive at its conclusions.
“We’re happy to have the opportunity to partner with so many of Illinois’ commodity groups to have this study done,” stated Jim Fraley, coordinator for the Illinois Livestock Development Group (ILDG), which sponsored the study with cooperation from the Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB), Illinois Corn Marketing Board (ICMB) and Illinois Soybean Assoc. “It really confirms what farmers and farm organizations have long asserted– that Illinois agriculture is integral to our state’s economy. Agriculture is so closely connected to a large set of related industries that a jolt to any one of them would have significant negative effects.”

The study, produced by Decision Innovation Solutions of Urbandale, Iowa, found that agriculture-related industries in Illinois accounted for 432,831 jobs– or about one in every 17 jobs in the state– during 2012. In addition, 24 of Illinois’ 102 counties derive at least one-third of their total output from agriculture and related industries, while 12 counties derive at least one-fifth of their total jobs from ag industries.

“When we have a handle on the positive economic contributions that Illinois’ family farmers bring to their communities locally and at the state level, we can put into perspective the true value of changes in policies and regulations at all levels,” added Lou Lamoreaux, ICMB chairman. “Given the changes recently in the farm economy and the outlook for a few tough years on the way, the data in this study should be carefully considered and shared within agriculture and beyond.”

The complete study can be found at www.decision-innovation.com. (IFB news release)


Ag Fairs Spurred $170 Million in Spending in ‘14

URBANA – Agricultural fairs have a significant impact on the state’s economy, as well. According to a recently released study based on the responses of more than 4,650 households surveyed during the 2014 fair season, the 104 county fairs in Illinois generated an estimated $170 million in spending last year. This despite challenges facing ag fairs such as lack of state and local funding, diminishing appeal to the younger generation, and the challenge of keeping fairs relevant amidst trends of declining involvement in agriculture.

Only a few fairs in Illinois are not considered agricultural in nature, explained Alex Norr, the University of Illinois graduate researcher who led the study. “Agricultural fairs are defined by state statute,” Norr said in a phone call. “To qualify, the fair must have a critical ag component that is used primarily to promote agricultural education and the agriculture industry. Non-agricultural fairs are referred to as expositions, and they include carnivals.”

Last year the Illinois Dept. of Agriculture allotted $5.1 million for fairs, of which some $3.1 million was doled out to agricultural fairs, Noll went on to say. The money is distributed through either the “ag premium fund” for prizes and awards at ag fairs, or the “ag rehabilitation fund” that covers reimbursements for fairground improvements and upgrades. The appropriation resulted in a final return to the state that was 18 times greater than their investment in 2014, Noll said.


Soybean Plantings Surprisingly Low

URBANA – University of Illinois agricultural economist John Newton noted last week that the February 20 USDA Grain and Oilseeds Outlook reflected a surprisingly low projection for 2015 planting intentions for soybeans.

“USDA surprised the market by dismissing expectations for increased soybean plantings and projecting fewer soybean acres planted (83.5 million acres) in 2015. If realized, this total would represent a 200,000 acre decline from 2014, and is significantly less than the average trade guess of 86.0 million acres,” Newton wrote in a farmdocdaily essay published online. “With respect to harvested soybean acres, the USDA projection is for 82.6 million acres, down 500,000 acres from 2014, but 2.7 million acres less than the average trade guess of 85.3 million acres.”

In addition, USDA forecast soybeans would fall in value by $1.20/bu. to $9 in 2015. This is based on projected 2015-16 ending stocks of 430 million bushels.

“At this point in time, and contrary to market expectations, USDA does not anticipate a significant increase in soybean acres. In fact, when including cotton, other feed grains, rice, and CRP, total cropland is expected to decline by 4.7 million acres to 278.8 million acres in 2015,” Newton concluded. Following the March 31 Prospective Plantings report, USDA will update the 2015-16 Grain and Oilseeds Outlook in the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report released on May 12. Read more at www.farmdocdaily.illinois.edu/006537print.html.


2015 CSP Signup Extended

CHAMPAIGN – More producers will be allowed to apply for enrollment in the 2015 Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) due to an extension for applications until March 13, announced Illinois State Conservationist Ivan Dozier of the Illinois Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
“Extending the enrollment deadline will make it possible for more agricultural and forestry producers to apply for this important Farm Bill conservation program,” Dozier said in an Illinois NRCS news release. “Through their conservation actions, these good stewards are ensuring that their operations are more productive and sustainable over the long run and CSP can help them take their operations to the next level of natural resource management.”

The program encourages producers to maintain and improve existing conservation systems and adopt additional practices and enhancements by offering cash reimbursements. Learn more at www.ilnrcs.usda.gov or contact your local NRCS field office.

Illinois Farm Fact:

“USDA projections for the average U.S. soybean yield is 46 bushels per acre, 1.8 bushels below the record 2014 yield.” (John Newton, U of I Dept. of ACES)