With very little taxpayer investment, last week’s grain tour could help spur more than $100 million in economic activity for the state’s agricultural industry.

Illinois Department of Agriculture Marketing Representative Jim Mackey said 44 guests from 10 different countries split between Latin America and Asia visited several parts of the state last week. Afterward, Mackey said the visitors were asked to evaluate their visit.

“We ask them to give us an estimate of how many dollars of business they might be willing to do with some of the companies they met on the tour,” Mackey said. “We add those together for an aggregate estimate. Last year, that number came in well over a hundred million dollars.” 

Mackey said grain wasn’t the only thing they got to see. They also saw the private sector step up to the plate.

“I think it’s important for people that come to this country to understand that government doesn’t do everything here,” Mackey said. “A lot of it is done by voluntary organizations and producer organizations, things like that. So that’s an important part of what we’re doing.”

Mackey said the guests paid for their own travel to Illinois and a fee to assist with hotel reservations, while the Illinois Corn Growers and Illinois Soybean associations helped pick up the costs for dinners.
A spokesperson with the Illinois Department of Agriculture said taxpayers only covered the $3,800 cost of a charter bus. 
(Copyright WBGZ Radio/ www.AltonDailyNews.com)