The Animals We Raise

Animal agriculture benefits our state by supporting food security, protecting the environment, strengthening communities and driving economic growth.

Food BankLivestock farms support food security

Illinois is home to more than 71,000 farms, 96% of which are family-owned and a third of which include livestock. For these farm families, producing high quality meat and dairy products means providing important protein sources for their families and others.

These farmers raise more than livestock on their farms; they improve their communities by providing local products Illinois residents rely on for well-balanced meals.

  • Illinois’ state licensed meat establishments processed more than 31 million pounds of meat to feed families across the state in 2020.
  • Illinois farm families donated more than 250,000 pounds of food to local food pantries in 2020.

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Livestock farms protect the environment

Farmers care for their animals in ways that also benefit the land. Their dedication to conserving the resources entrusted to them preserves their way of life for future generations.

Farmers make significant investments to properly design livestock barns that protect the environment. Barn construction is subject to multiple layers of regulation involving state and federal agencies, as well as an 18-step approval process managed by the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

  • Pig farmers today use 75% less land and 25% less water than they did 60 years ago.
  • Cattle farmers are producing 60% more beef with 40% fewer carbon emissions than 50 years ago.
  • Each gallon of milk produced by dairy farmers creates 63% fewer carbon emissions than in 1944.
  • According to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), these efforts have significantly reduced the number of livestock-related environmental complaints submitted to the agency over the past decade.

According to the Illinois EPA

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Livestock farms strengthen communities

Image of Livestock Farming BrothersFarmers care about strengthening and supporting communities through a variety of assistance, involvement and support.

  • A recent study of property values in Illinois shows livestock farms, rural neighbors and town residents can successfully coexist with no adverse impacts to property values, thanks to modern technology and statewide siting criteria.
  • Farmers serve as volunteer firefighters, school board members, elected officials, church elders and in other essential roles that support communities.

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Livestock farms drive economic growth

Foxglove FarmsLivestock farms, along with meat and dairy processing, are economic engines for Illinois. The dollars generated from livestock production ripple through the state’s economy.

  • In 2019, the livestock industry contributed more than $31.8 billion in economic activity for our state, supported more than 91,000 jobs and accounted for $4.7 billion in household income.
  • On average, one small meat processor in Illinois generates nearly $27.9 million in economic activity and supports 88 jobs for the local community each year.
  • For every $100 of output created by livestock in Illinois, an additional $80 of economic activity is created outside the industry.

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