Speaking to an audience of key leaders and decision-makers, Governor Pat Quinn promoted Illinois agricultural exports during his trade mission to Mexico -- already one of the state's biggest agricultural customers. The governor's trade mission is part of his agenda to drive Illinois' economy forward and create jobs. Following last night's event, today the governor will tour Ingredion Inc.'s Mexico City agricultural production facility. Earlier this year Governor Quinn cut the ribbon on the company's new production facility in Bedford Park, Illinois.
"Agriculture is big business in Illinois, and Mexico is one of our best customers," Governor Quinn said. "Every year, almost 40 percent of our commodities - the corn and soybeans we grow and the pork and beef we raise - are sold overseas. With sales of $8.2 billion, Illinois currently is the third largest agricultural exporter in the United States, and Mexico is one of our most loyal agricultural trading partners."
Illinois Department of Agriculture Director Bob Flider and representatives of several Illinois agricultural companies have joined Governor Quinn on the trade mission, including ADM, Tate and Lyle, and Ingredion. The Illinois delegation is meeting with top Mexican agriculture officials to reaffirm the state's existing trade relationship and discuss having Mexico purchase more Illinois agriculture and related products. Since 2010, Mexico has purchased $1.9 billion in agricultural products from Illinois, including $780 million in 2012 alone, making it the state's third largest agricultural export market.
"We are fortunate to have a governor who understands the economic vitality of Illinois depends upon its ability to cultivate global markets," Director Flider said. "Governor Quinn has set an ambitious goal of doubling Illinois exports by 2015 and created an Export Advisory Council to help achieve it. The Illinois Department of Agriculture is one of two cabinet-level agencies on the council and is playing an instrumental role in creating markets for Illinois food and agricultural products."
The Illinois Department of Agriculture maintains a trade office in Mexico City where buyers are identified and brought to Illinois for tours of grain, pork and dairy industries. The department also sponsors pavilions in Mexican trade shows and takes Illinois companies there to do business. The trade office works with the Illinois Export Advisory Council, formed by Governor Quinn to help double Illinois exports by 2015, since exports to Mexico are a major part of the council's efforts.
In the last year alone, the Illinois Department of Agriculture has participated in 13 international and domestic trade shows, led five foreign buyers' missions, facilitated 5,474 buyer-seller introductions and disseminated 1,741 trade leads. Later this month, Illinois will host the International Biotechnology Conference, where experts, universities and companies will meet to discuss and promote advancements that will help feed the world's growing population more efficiently and productively. Governor Quinn was named the 2011 BIO International Governor of the Year as a result of Illinois' efforts to provide feed, fiber and fuel to the world.
The state of Illinois has 36 million acres of land, of which 75 percent is devoted to production agriculture. In a typical year Illinois farmers grow 16 percent, or two billion bushels, of the nation's corn crop and 14 percent, or 400 million bushels, of its soybean crop, ranking second in production only to Iowa. Illinois farmers also rank fourth in pork production, marketing nearly two billion pounds of the commodity. Illinois ranks first in the country with $162 billion in sales of processed food, and many of the 2,514 plants that produce these sales are located in urban communities.
Illinois also has a large network of agribusinesses that provide the tools farmers need to produce their commodities, from seed, chemical and feed companies to equipment manufacturers and implement dealers. Combined, these agriculture and agriculture-related businesses employ nearly one of every four Illinois workers.
The Mexico trade mission is the latest by Governor Quinn as he seeks to promote Illinois to an international audience. Past missions include China and Japan in 2011, and Canada and Brazil in 2012.