Agriculture has always been an important part of the Illinois economy. Although the number of farms continues to decline, farmland still covers about 75 percent of the state. The average size of an Illinois farm, including hobby farms, is 358 acres. Most farm acreage is devoted to grain, mainly corn and soybeans. Nearly 10 percent of Illinois farms have swine. Beef cows are found on about 23 percent of farms, while about 3 percent have dairy cows. Some farms produce specialty crops and livestock, including alfalfa, canola, nursery products, emus and fish. Many farming operations also support recreational activities such as hunting and fishing. Right here in Massac County you are most likely to see corn, soybeans, wheat, beef cattle, some swine and dairy. Contrary to popular belief, more than 90 percent of Illinois farms remain family farms.
Most Illinois Farmers are over the age of 50, and nearly half hold additional jobs off the farm. The state is consistently a national leader in both corn and soybean production, but Illinois farmers also produce a variety of specialty crops, often leading the nation in pumpkin and horseradish production. While livestock is not as common as it used to be, Illinois also ranks in the top five in the United States in hog production.
Along with agricultural production, Illinois is also a leader in food manufacturing, ranking first in the nation with approximately $180 billion in processed food sales. The food and fiber industry in Illinois employs nearly 1 million people.
A strong transportation infrastructure, including river, rail and roadway transport opportunities helps Illinois export more than $8 billion in agricultural goods annually.
Illinois also ranks third in the United States for ethanol production capacity and sixth in overall installed wind-energy capacity.
In Massac County alone, one can find, hogs, sheep, goats, beef and dairy cattle, corn, soybeans, wheat, and many different types of fruits and vegetables.