Challenges and opportunities

ILLINOIS - The Illinois cattle industry is facing many challenges and opportunities.
calendar icon 19 March 2007
clock icon 2 minute read
Cattle such as these could become a more common sight in Bureau County in the near future. Rising corn prices, due to the increased demand for ethanol, have raised the price of feed for cattle in the south and southwest, and Nic Anderson of the Illinois Livestock Development Group said as many as 1 million cattle could be coming back to the Midwest.

That was the message delivered by Nic Anderson to area cattlemen at last week’s Bureau County Cattlemen’s Association’s annual banquet.

Anderson works for the Illinois Livestock Development Group. One of the top priorities identified at the 2003 Illinois Agricultural Legislative Roundtable was to attract and enhance a profitable livestock industry for Illinois, so the Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Corn Growers’ Association, Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Milk Producers’ Association, Illinois Pork Producers’ Association and Illinois Soybean Association formed the ILDG and pooled their resources to develop a long-term strategy to restore profitability to the state’s livestock industry.

Anderson said one of the challenges is perception.

“The challenge we have, other than to compete in the retail business, is the consumer’s perception of our industry, also our neighbors’ perception of the industry and our communities’ perception of our industry,” he said.

Anderson said as consumers become more and more distant from the farm, they’re often appalled about the odor and the other issues involved in the cattle industry.

Anderson said the industry has changed over the years, but it has become more difficult to educate consumers about the changes because there are fewer and fewer livestock producers.

There are fewer livestock producers, and they’re getting older. Anderson said the average cattle producer in the state of Illinois is 55 years old. That compares to 52 for the average dairy farmer, and 40-45 for the average pork producer.


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