Today is National Agriculture Day in Illinois, and State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) is joining Governor Bruce Rauner in encouraging 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.
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.
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.