CHICAGO — The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) welcomed about 150 business leaders, representatives and industry partners to an open house on Wednesday, June 28, celebrating its expansion to Chicago. The additional office, located at 190 S. LaSalle St. and funded by the ISA checkoff program, allows Illinois soybean farmers to build deeper relationships throughout a Chicago-based agriculture and food value chain.
“We are excited to be part of the Chicago community,” says Craig Ratajczyk, ISA CEO. “The full agriculture and food value chain converges here, in the third-largest food-producing city in the country. Plus, many non-food companies that use soybean products operate here. The Chicago Board of Trade, as part of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group, releases commodity prices globally, making Chicago the financial heart of agriculture worldwide. We look forward to working more closely with industry partners, leaders and influencers to benefit the Illinois economy and residents of this state.”
The soybean industry adds value and jobs to the Illinois – and Chicago – economy. Raising and crushing soybeans and refining soybean oil, together with the closely associated industries of manufacturing animal feed, raising pigs, poultry and cattle, and producing biodiesel contribute $28.3 billion in sales output and 114,500 jobs to Illinois, according to the Economic Contribution of the Illinois Soybean Industry study funded by the ISA checkoff program.
“Illinois consistently ranks as a top soybean-producing state in the U.S., and we are currently No. 1,” says Daryl Cates, ISA chairperson and farmer from Columbia, Ill. “Last year we raised a record crop of nearly 593 million bushels of soybeans.”
Cates adds that the soybean value chain and associated industries contribute $12.7 billion in gross state product, which measures value added through economic processes. Crushing whole soybeans within the state and using the meal and oil for other products, from bacon and vegetable oil to cleaners and biofuel, adds much of that value. Plus, soybeans were the second-most valuable Illinois export in 2016.
“These industries also create a strong economic ripple effect in Illinois,” Cates says. “Every $100 in added value created by soybeans and associated industries generates another $241 in indirect economic impact. And every job supports another 2.85 jobs elsewhere in the economy.”
Ratajczyk believes the additional office will be instrumental as ISA works toward their targeted goal of utilizing 600 million bushels of Illinois soybeans by 2020.
“We have nearly achieved our utilization goal,” he says. “Building relationships in Chicago will provide marketplace insights, new solutions and opportunities to use our soybeans to add value in Illinois.”
For example, the Chicago Park District already uses nearly 23,000 gallons of B20 annually, a fuel blend with 20 percent biodiesel made from renewable resources that include soybean oil. And ISA hosts more than 30 international trade teams each year, many of whom stop in Chicago to get a holistic view of the U.S. soy complex.
According to Ratajczyk, new coalitions between urban and rural interests will equip all parties to better understand and address issues and opportunities.
“We are better positioned to ensure Illinois soybean producers are the most knowledgeable and sustainable, and our soy is the most dependable and competitive in the global marketplace,” he adds. “When this happens, all of Illinois wins.”
The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) checkoff and membership programs represent more than 43,000 soybean farmers in Illinois. The checkoff funds market development, soybean production and profitability research, issues analysis, communications and education. Membership and advocacy efforts support Illinois soybean farmer interests in local areas, Springfield and Washington, D.C., through the Illinois Soybean Growers. ISA programs are designed to ensure Illinois soy is the highest quality, most dependable, sustainable and competitive in the global marketplace. For more information, visit the website www.ilsoy.org.
— Illinois Soybean Association
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