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LOCAL BUSINESS HEADLINES

The Illinois Department of Agriculture is leading a trade mission designed to increase foreign sales for the state's export-dependent agriculture industry

The department is playing host to 30 international buyers from Columbia, Peru, Mexico, Vietnam and the Philippines this week in an effort to increase export sales for the Illinois pork industry. Over the last two years the tour has generated $2 million in sales.

Participants began the tour this morning meeting with representatives from Cedar Ridge in Red Bud. The farm was established in 1954 by the late Fred and Betty Grohmann. Their six sons now own and operate the farm, which is one of the nation's top sellers of purebred breeding stock.

"Market development activities like this are vital to our state's farm economy," Agriculture Director Bob Flider said. "Illinois is the third-leading agricultural exporter in the United States with sales of $8.2 billion, and those sales account for more than 40 percent of the industry's cash receipts."

The tour also will make stops at:

- AP International, a division of the GSI Group, Inc., which provides the swine and dairy industries with quality feeding, ventilation and confinement equipment.

- The National Soy Research Lab, where participants will hear presentations by University of Illinois Veterinarian Dr. Corinne Bromfield on Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus and University of Illinois College of ACES Professor Dr. Hans Stein on the benefits of soy in swine diets.

- Prairie State Semen Inc., a full-service commercial boar stud and hog semen supplier that was started in 1995.

- Amlan International, the Animal Health Division of the Oil-Dri Corporation of America. Tour participants will visit Amlan's Nick Jaffee Center for Innovation (IC) located in Vernon Hills. The Innovation Center is dedicated to the research and development of adding value to sorbent minerals.

- The Chicago Mercantile Exchange, an international marketplace enabling institutions and businesses to manage their financial risks and allocate their assets.

On Thursday the tour will depart for Des Moines, Ia., site of the World Pork Expo.

Illinois ranks fourth in pork production, marketing 2.1 billion pounds of pork in 2012.