An Illinois statewide task force report presents a local farm-and-food development strategy that experts say could trigger $20 to $30 billion in new economic activity every year, creating thousands of new jobs while revitalizing rural communities.
Legislation has been filed in both the House and Senate to get key elements of the plan underway. Even though Illinois has one of the nations largest agricultural economies, only a tiny fraction of the state’s population estimated $48 billion annual food expenditures is spent on products grown in state. The report of the Illinois Local and Organic Food and Farm Task Force concludes that even small increases in the amount of food grown for local consumption can generate an enormous amount of new economic activity, all of it within the state, for growers and others in food-related businesses.
The report presents a strategy for increasing the amount of money spent on Illinois-grown food to 10% of the statewide total by 2020 and to 20% by 2030, generating $20 to $30 billion in economic activity and thousands of new jobs in farming and the food industry each year.
This plan proposes dramatic expansion of the local farm and food networks in Illinois’ agricultural infrastructure. It encourages Illinois farmers to respond directly to consumers demand for fresh, tasty, locally-produced foods, and shows how to do it, said Wes Jarrell, chairman of the 32-member task force that wrote the report Local Food, Farms, and Jobs: Growing the Illinois Economy. Jarrell is a professor of sustainable agriculture and natural resources at the University of Illinois, and a grower himself.
The report is available at www.foodfarmsjobs.org.
Source: State of Illinois, Department of Agriculture