Telling the Story of Agriculture: The Illinois Edition

posted by Spencer Parkinson on Friday, February 27, 2015

After dodging as many snowflakes as possible, witnessing several sliding and wrecked vehicles on I-80, and "ruining" the evening for thirty-five cub scouts for cancelling den meetings (I'm the Cub Master in my local area), our Business Development Manager and I made it to the "Land of Lincoln" Wednesday night. So what exactly would drive a couple of guys from DIS to make the trip across Iowa and down into Illinois in the midst of a winter storm?

One, we'd committed to doing it, but as many readers who know us, we have a passion for numbers, particularly for those that have to do with agriculture, and if that means taking a winter stroll across the Midwest during a storm then we'd better do it! Since receiving approval from the largest farm organizations in Illinois last December, we have been feverishly working on estimating the economic contribution of agriculture to the State of Illinois' economy, as well as for all 104 counties and 18 congressional districts. As with other states for which we've done the work (Iowa and South Dakota), the numbers for Illinois are significant.

For example, did you know that one in ten dollars of sales can be traced to agriculture in the state? Or did you know that one in seventeen Illinois jobs have their roots in agriculture? In a state like Illinois, where one-third of the state's population is concentrated in a few northeastern counties, this is quite remarkable, especially when you consider the wide variety of industries present in the state. Outside of the Chicago metro, twenty-one counties derive at least one in six jobs from agriculture.

In addition to looking at the size and scope of Illinois agriculture, we also looked at how the industry compares to the rest of Illinois' diverse economy. The chart below gives a rundown of the various industries.

Illinois Output by Industry

Because we've been very careful to use the same methodology for all states for which we've done this type of work, we can now do an "apples to apples" comparison between the states. The table below tells a few very interesting stories about agriculture in a few Midwestern states. First interesting story is that agriculture harvests some respectable overall numbers in all three states. The second story is, despite having lower overall numbers than Illinois, South Dakota and Iowa agriculture represents at least 30% of all economic activity and accounts for one in every five jobs for the two states.

Illinois Output

Now, with a more challenging economic outlook on the horizon, it will be interesting to see how agriculture fares in the coming years. If past is prologue, however, we'd expect agriculture to remain a key component in all states we've studied so far. As we continue to work with other states in and outside the Midwest to help them "Tell the Story of Agriculture", we'd invite you to dig into the numbers for Iowa, South Dakota, and now, Illinois. Here's a link to help you get started:

  1. economic contribution
  2. illinois

About The Author

Spencer Parkinson

As President, CEO and Founding Member of Decision Innovation Solutions, Spencer Parkinson is responsible for business generation, ensuring client satisfaction and managing the overall operations of the business. He also seeks to understand clients’ data challenges, propose potential solutio ... read more