Federal agriculture official visits Will County
Local leaders showcased Will County’s importance on the global trade market
JOLIET – Today, Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael T. Scuse joined Will County Executive Larry Walsh and leaders from the Will County Center for Economic Development and the Will County Farm Bureau for a tour to showcase the importance of agriculture and Will County‘s role in transporting grains to the global market.
“Our location at the crossroads of America and our successful agricultural industry has positioned Will County as an important part of the world market,” said Will County Executive Larry Walsh.
The visit began with a presentation by John Grueling, President and CEO of the Will County Center for Economic Development, highlighting Will County as North America’s largest inland port. Greuling enumerated the number of companies that are looking to relocate to Will County due to its transportation assets and availability of skilled workers.
“Will County continues to lead the region in our import/export capabilities,” Greuling said. “We are happy to show Under Secretary Scuse the success of our intermodal system and its critical role in the shipment of goods worldwide.”
Mark Schneidewind, manager of the Will County Farm Bureau, provided insight to the county’s significance in the agricultural market. He reported Will County exports 85 to 95 percent of the grain produced here.
“Last year, 86.8 million bushels of grain were shipped through Will County intermodal centers to be delivered around the nation and around the world,” Schneidewind said.”Of this, 24 to 25 million bushels were grown right here in Will County.”
Scuse, who comes from a family of farmers in Delaware, said he is very impressed with Will County’s position in the global market. During a tour of the Centerpoint Intermodal Center, Scuse said he understands the “big future in grain exporting”.
“You can have the best farmers or ranchers in the world but if they can’t get their goods to market, no one knows,” he said. “Will County has an impressive intermodal facility. Will County is well positioned to further its exports business in emerging markets such as Viet Nam, Russia, and China. You should take great pride in this because many states want this.”
During a visit to the Will County Farm Bureau, Scuse had the opportunity to meet with local farmers. He said he will continue to look for ways to help which include continuing to lobby for a Farm Bill.
“Producers across the country know that we need this assistance from a Farm Bill,” Scuse said. “And we need it now so our farmers know how to plan for the next growing season. The American farmers are very resilient and they will bounce back with much optimism. We are gonna survive this.”
Walsh said he was pleased with the success of the visit. He said he was impressed Scuse could personally relate to the struggles of the local farmers.
“Under Secretary Scuse really understands the day to day challenges our farmers are facing this year,” Walsh said. “His interest in Will County confirms he is aware of our critical role in the intermodal and agricultural markets. I am proud to show him our unique blend of agriculture and transportation opportunities.”