The 30-year slide in the Illinois livestock industry has been stopped, and some sectors, including the swine industry, have recorded growth, according to a new University of Illinois study.

In the last three decades, the livestock industry has steadily declined, compared to the rest of the state’s economy, reports Peter Goldsmith, associate professor of agribusiness at the University of Illinois.

“Since 1994, livestock herd and animal numbers have decreased significantly and nominal gross receipts from livestock have declined 4% since 1994. However, there has been a 30% increase in nominal receipts since 1999 – much of it arising from the expansion of the state’s swine herd during that period,” he continues.

“The state’s swine herd is still the fourth-largest in the country, and there has actually been a 4% increase in hog numbers in the state since 1999,” Goldsmith adds.

In terms of economic impact, while hog operations account for 23% of the commercial livestock business in Illinois, they contribute 55% of livestock’s total cash receipts.

“The hog sector is the leading livestock species group with over $1.7 billion of total economic impact,” says Goldsmith. “Beef is about half of that at $800 million, with dairy coming in at almost $500 million.”

Of the state’s 40,000 livestock operations, there were 3,400 hog operations, compared to 15,000 cow-calf enterprises, 5,000 fed cattle operations and 1,500 dairy cattle businesses.

Counties leading the way in hog production were DeKalb, followed by Henry, Clinton, Livingston, Greene, Pike, Knox, Adams, Edgar and Hancock.

In all, livestock products provide $1.939 billion in direct output to the Illinois economy each year and a total economic impact of $3.173 billion, says Goldsmith.

“And these products contribute $256.78 million in taxes. The state’s 326 meat and dairy processing firms add another $10.069 billion in direct output products and $19.715 billion in total economic impact. Together, the livestock products and meat and dairy processing sectors provide the equivalent of 119,538 fulltime jobs,” he says.

“This report serves as a touchstone for industry, stakeholders and policymakers to better understand the economic role of livestock production and meat and dairy processing in Illinois,” Goldsmith relates.

“This industry is a significant provider of output, jobs, taxes, exports from the state and markets for the state’s grain producers,” he notes.

Goldsmith co-authored the report with Durga Saripally, a research assistant in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Illinois.

The Illinois Pork Producers Association and the Illinois Livestock Development Group jointly funded the project.