- Associated Press - Saturday, May 7, 2016

RAYMOND, Ill. (AP) - Hog producers in Illinois have already filed half as many expansion notices with state regulators as they did all of last year.

According to the state Department of Agriculture’s website, there were 61 intent-to-construct applications filed so far in 2016. The (Springfield) State Journal-Register (https://bit.ly/1SKYrCi ) reports there were 122 such applications for the entirety of 2015.

Final regulatory say on new Illinois hog farms is with the state Department of Agriculture, which notes there are usually 100 to 120 applications for new and expanded hog operations each year.

Phil Borgic, who has a hog operation near Raymond, said the expansion is being driven by demand from consumers and improved pork prices. He said exports to Asia have played a part in heightening demand for pork from the state.

Borgic expects to add a facility or two to his operation.

“We’re looking for locations,” Borgic said Monday while showing a group of Illinois lawmakers through facilities. “I want to find something in Montgomery or Macoupin County. I’d like to keep the operations close to our people.”

Legislative tours are part of a strategy from the Illinois Pork Producers Association. Executive director Jennifer Tirey said tours particularly focus on urban and suburban lawmakers.

Producers also are encouraged to put out their message to members of the public, particularly when there’s planning of new facilities, to help steer clear of controversy that can surround building of hog farms.

“It’s part of our proactive approach,” said Tirey. “We encourage them to talk to the residents, to talk to the county board, before it gets to that point.”

In 2012, Illinois was the fourth-biggest state for hog production with $1.5 billion in annual sales, per the most recent census of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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Information from: The State Journal-Register, https://www.sj-r.com

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