Gov. Bruce Rauner proclaimed today National Agriculture Day in Illinois and encouraged Illinoisans to celebrate the rich agricultural heritage of the state. This is the 45th anniversary of National Ag Day and this year’s theme is “Agriculture: Food for Life.”
“As one of our largest industries, a thriving agricultural sector is crucial for the future viability and prosperity of Illinois,” Gov. Rauner said. “The billions of dollars generated from agricultural production, processing, and manufacturing in Illinois strengthen our rural and urban economies, providing quality jobs across the state. I hope that young Illinoisans recognize the variety of significant roles in agriculture and take advantage of those opportunities.”
Career paths in agriculture have greatly expanded from traditional farm roles to also include agribusiness management, sales and accounting, agronomy, pest control, and a wealth of technical roles. USDA projections show that job opportunities in the agricultural and environmental industries are expected to grow through the year 2020. However, colleges and universities currently train only enough students to fill 61% of the expected 57,900 average annual job openings in those industries. These figures highlight the importance of encouraging young Illinoisans to join and advance the state’s agriculture sector.
“The world-class caliber of our farmers, the richness of our land, and the convenience of our quality transportation network gives Illinois deep roots as a national leader in agriculture,” Gov. Rauner said.
In 2017, Illinois had a record high corn yield and a three percent increase in soybean production from the previous year. Home to more than 72,000 farms, Illinois ranks first in soybean and pumpkin production, second in corn production, and fourth in pork production. Additionally, the state leads the nation in food processing sales.
The Rauner administration has worked to ease various burdens on the agricultural industry. In November, Rauner declared the state’s first harvest emergency in response to rain-related delays in getting products to market. From a regulatory standpoint, the Department of Agriculture has focused on a legislative agenda that reduces regulatory burden and modernizes the Department’s interaction with Illinois’ food and agriculture community.
“Agriculture is the foundation for a healthy and prosperous nation which is made possible by the hard work of Illinois’ farm families,” said Raymond Poe, director of the Dept. of Ag. “Today we celebrate the nutritious and plentiful contributions of our state’s farmers, ranchers and producers.”
According to the Agriculture Council of America, the amount of people each American farmer feeds has increased from 25 in the 1960s, to more than 165 people today.