PAXTON, Ill. — Ford County is the youngster among the
state’s 102 counties and produces both crops and end-products for global use
within its boot-shaped boundaries.
Established in 1859, Ford was the last of Illinois’ 102
counties after being carved from part of Vermilion County, but quickly became a
major agricultural player with the arrival of the railroad.
The market value of agricultural products sold within the
county increased 77 percent from $82.376 million in 2002 to $145.87 million five
years later, a statewide trend driven by commodity prices.
Of those 2007 sales, $128.92 million was from crops and the
remainder from livestock, including $12.4 million in swine sales and more than
$4 million in cattle.
The total commodity sales average per farm was $278,379 in
2007, up 79 percent from $155,426 in 2002.
Ford County had 530 farms in 2002 and 524 in 2007. The
latest census data is not finalized.
Farmland covered 286,069 acres in 2002 and dropped 5 percent
to 270,720 in 2007, reducing the average farm size from 540 acres to 517.
But the story of Ford County goes beyond corn, soybeans and
David Treece, Ford-Iroquois Farm Bureau manager, said the
county features diverse agriculture-related businesses, and its farmers are
conservation conscious. The county’s Soil and Water Conservation District was
the 13th to be organized in the state that eventually grew to 97
He said the diversity ranges from a family that operates
Select Exotics, a Savannah cat-breeding business, in the north end of the county
at Cabery to a pair of large corn- and soybean-processing companies in Gibson
Treece provided some examples of where agriculture is
bolstering the local economy.
The DuPont Nutrition and Health Gibson City plant purchases
more than $170 million of soybeans from area farmers annually and produces
soybean end-products ranging from meal to oil and protein flour. The plant
operates two distribution centers in Gibson City.
One Earth Energy in Gibson City uses about 39 million
bushels of corn annually to meet its capacity production of 100 million gallons
of ethanol and produces 320,000 tons of distillers’ dried grain with solubles,
as well as 2 million pounds of corn oil from locally-grown corn.
The Precision Soya facility in Piper City partners with seed
companies and growers to produce seed and Identity Preserved products using the
latest technologies and innovations.
Soybeans, corn and wheat seeds, as well as food-grade
Identity Preserved products, can be produced and conditioned at Precision Soya
and provide a range of maturities and geographies.
Specialty Grains Inc. in Gibson City produces and delivers
specialty crops, particularly non-GMO corn and soybeans, and works with clients
in overseas markets to provide specialty grains.
The processing and warehouse facility at Gibson City
provides the latest in grain-processing technology. The facility includes
temperature- and humidity-controlled storage and provides an ideal climate to
maintain the quality of seed and grain for food-grade purposes.
Specialty Grains recently acquired a new property dedicated
solely to the transloading of corn and soybeans for overseas delivery. As an
established partner for trading companies and processors in Japan, Korea,
Mexico, Spain, Belgium and other European and Asian markets, Specialty Grains
has become a renowned supplier of the high-quality corn and soybeans on a world
Producer And Seller
Central Lean in Paxton is operated by a group of area
livestock producers that market their products through their store. The store
carries all of Central Lean’s products — both fresh and frozen — along with
products by Kilgus Dairy, as well as some locally-produced pork products and
Several other producers market their products from their
farm. Examples include Miller Farms and Bauer Crops and Cattle, both near
The Bauer family raises and markets beef, poultry and
vegetables and sells those products via on-farm, farmers markets and wholesale.
Miller Farms, a sixth-generation family farm, offers pork
products ranging from chops to ham and also sells half and whole hogs for the
Wind farms also became part of the Ford County landscape
when Pioneer Trails went online in 2012.
O.ON Climate Renewables constructed 94 turbines stretching
across the landscape in Ford and Iroquois counties. The project encompasses more
than 12,000 acres.
The 1.6-megawatt turbines provide more than 150 megawatts of
power — enough to provide power to more than 45,000 households in Illinois using
North American-made turbines, blades and towers.