Category Archives: Livestock
Reflecting on conversations the past week, I think of the challenges those dealing with disaster and cleanup continue to face, the perhaps blessing in the fact more fall tillage didn’t occur for additional soil loss due to the rainfall and flooding, and the anxiety surrounding this planting season for many.
Waiting is hard for many of us in any aspect of life, yet has its benefits. As we think of this planting season, we can mess up the entire growing season with wrong decisions now through planting. Mudding in fertilizer and seed or tilling when too wet will have lasting effects. This also goes for planting in cold soil temps and/or planting shallow. Economically we also can’t afford these practices either. While I mentioned I’d share research on in-season fertilizer applications this week, I need more time to compile the results. So I’ll share on that and other planting considerations next week.
April 29 Application Deadline for Livestock Losses: On the livestock side, we know livestock losses had occurred due to the severe winter in January/February/March prior to and including the Blizzard/Flood event. Nebraska Extension worked with Farm Service Agency (FSA) to provide additional criteria for consideration of these losses qualifying for the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP). There is now an extension granted for livestock producers to report livestock losses for LIP till April 29th for any losses that occurred the past three months due to adverse weather event or loss condition. An FSA press release last week shared, “Extended cold combined with above-normal precipitation during the months of January, February and early March created an adverse weather event that has had a significant impact on some livestock producers. We encourage them to reach out to our (FSA) office by the April 29 notice of loss deadline. LIP compensates livestock owners and contract growers for livestock death losses in excess of normal mortality due to an adverse weather event. The payment rate is based on 75 percent of the average fair market value of the livestock.” Documentation of loss can include beginning inventory and losses, pictures or video records documenting loss, records of the number and kind of livestock that died, vet records, or other production records.
The following is an excerpt from some information Extension provided: “As we think about February weather data, what created challenges in particular for cow-calf producers was the extended period of wet combined with cold. Most recently, additional challenges have included blizzard conditions and flooding. The draws and sheltered areas that protected calves from the cold and wind are sometimes the same places that were swept away during the most recent flooding events. Even for cattle out in pasture or grazing cornstalks, for many locations, there hasn’t been an opportunity for cattle to truly dry out, prolonging stress. Even for producers that bedded cattle, the bedding would get wet quickly because of saturated soil conditions. Cattle with a wet hair coat are much more susceptible to cold and windchill. A wet hair coat raises the lower critical temperature at which cattle experience cold stress (from a temperature of 19° Fahrenheit to 59° Fahrenheit). This higher critical temperature means that cattle have to use more energy to maintain their body temperature and creates a situation where often the cattle just can’t eat enough to meet their energy requirements. When this occurs, they begin to use body fat reserves. If this happens for an extended period of time, those reserves can become depleted and the animal will not be able to maintain body temperature and will die.”
Wellness in Tough Times Webinar: Farmers and ranchers have many stressors in their lives. A free webinar will be offered April 23 from Noon-1 p.m. CST for farm and ranch families and will provide strategies for dealing with the stress of farming or ranching in today’s difficult economic environment. Perhaps anyone involved with agriculture could benefit from this additional information? The webinar can be accessed at http://go.unl.edu/farmstresswebinar and will be presented by Nebraska Extension Educators Glennis McClure and Brandy VanDeWalle. Participants will learn: How to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress; understand the role stress plays in our lives; and strategies and resources to manage stress. For more information, contact Brandy VanDeWalle at firstname.lastname@example.org or (402)759-3712. Dates and locations for a separate workshop available to agribusiness professionals and service providers working with farmers and ranchers will be released soon: Communicating with Farmers Under Stress. For more information on this workshop contact Susan Harris-Broomfield email@example.com
Gardening Expo in York: Join the Upper Big Blue NRD’s Project GROW, Nebraska Extension-York County and Common Ground for a Gardener’s Expo! It will be held on Saturday, April 27 from 10 a.m.-Noon at the Killgore Memorial Library in York. Vendors from the Prairie Plains Research Institute, Nebraska Extension, Nebraska Bee Keepers Association, Miller Seed & Supply, Harmony Nursery, and Project GROW will answer questions about gardening, soil health, pollinators and trees. Door prizes include a rain barrel and composting bin. There are also free trees for the first 25 attendees.
#NebraskaStrong also means being strong enough to ask for help. Nebraska Family Helpline: 888-866-8660. Nebraska Farm Hotline: 800-464-0258.
This past week was tough at times yet also incredible to see people pull together, rally around each other, and donate so much. All of this is so hard to put into words…praying for those impacted and grateful for the many heart-warming stories amidst all the loss! I realize not everyone reading this is directly affected by the flooding. However, we all most likely know others affected and there’s several resources and information Nebraska Extension wishes to share. Please help us in sharing this information!
Flood Website: http://flood.unl.edu Information for Rural/Urban, Families, Business, Crop and Livestock Producers, Home Damage, and English/Spanish resources all in this one spot. Grateful for all my colleagues working really hard to redo/update this site! Also, all flood-related questions can be directed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Volunteers: https://flood.unl.edu/how-can-i-help Individuals and organizations should never self-deploy. Support relief organizations that are already established in the area by contacting local organizations to see what support they need. You can also check with your county Emergency Manager. It’s also recommended to get a tetanus shot if you’re cleaning up in flood affected areas.
- Get a tetanus shot before removing flood damaged items.
- Test private wells that may have come in contact with flood water before drinking or cooking. Kits can often be obtained from your local Health Department or Extension office. More info: https://flood.unl.edu/well-water
- First Steps for flood recovery: https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/ACS/ACS-101-W.pdf
- Cleaning up after a flood (includes videos and also questions to ask to ensure contractors are trustworthy). Remove drywall and carpeting as quickly as possible (24-48 hours) to prevent mold growth. Don’t rebuild until studs are 13% moisture: https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/cleanup/facts.html
- Free legal assistance for low-income flood survivors: https://flood.unl.edu/legal-aid
- Financial recovery and documentation: https://flood.unl.edu/family-financial
- Handling food following a flood: https://flood.unl.edu/foodsafety
Livestock: https://flood.unl.edu/livestock Our livestock producers care so greatly for their animals and work so hard to keep them safe and healthy. Prayers for all affected.
- Options for Disposal of Animal Carcasses including rendering and landfill locations, burial and composting considerations. EQIP assistance for disposal costs may be available; apply for waiver through local NRCS office before disposal: https://beef.unl.edu/beefwatch/options-disposal-animal-carcasses
- Contact local Farm Service Agency regarding losses. Phone call starts the process and only have 30 days to report for Livestock Indemnity Program. Can report losses from severe winter prior to flooding in addition to flood and blizzard events: https://beef.unl.edu/beefwatch/extreme-weather-events-and-livestock-indemnity-program
- Article I’ve promised for a few weeks regarding the extreme winter before the flood/blizzard event: https://beef.unl.edu/beefwatch/considerations-attributing-livestock-losses
- Flood damaged grain and hay is considered adulterated and cannot be used as a food or feed source; it must be properly disposed: http://deq.ne.gov/publica.nsf/pages/11-023
- Post bomb-cyclone recovery
- Wet hay has the potential to combust so remove hay from building structures if impacted by flooding. Best practice for flooded hay and silage is to dispose of by spreading on fields as a fertilizer. Most practical way may be just unrolling bales for now. Hay bales that are at 30 to 40 percent moisture content pose the greatest risk of fire. Check hay storage often for pungent odors, hot damp areas on the stack, emission of water vapors and other signs of heating. To check a stack’s temperature for fire risk, drive a sharp pointed pipe into the hay, lower a thermometer inside the pipe and leave it there for about 20 minutes. At 150 degrees F, the hay is approaching the danger zone. At 170 degrees F, hot spots or fire pockets are possible. Have the fire department on standby.
Flooded Grain Bins: Flooded grain is considered adulterated and needs to be disposed. Grain above that can be salvaged by removing it from the top or side of bin with a tool like a grain vacuum. This article shares info. on considerations and grain vac service/suppliers: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2019/grain-vacuum-services-rentals-suppliers
Flooded Pesticides: https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/flood/farm-ranch/flooded-pesticides
I don’t have room to mention all the resources! Please check out: https://flood.unl.edu/
Please keep talking to each other, share your stories, and don’t isolate! Eat a good meal, drink plenty of water, get some rest and be mindful of your personal well-being. Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. We’re all being impacted by this. #NebraskaStrong is so true. It also takes strength to ask for help when we need it; help is always available!
- Nebraska Farm Hotline/Rural Response Hotline: 800-464-0258.
- The Nebraska Counseling, Outreach and Mental Health Therapy (COMHT) Program: 800-464-0258.
- Nebraska Family Helpline: 888-866-8660
Perspective. I spoke a little of this last week. This week, in the midst of much occurring, it was all about perspective for me. It’s hard to find words for the devastation occurring in Nebraska. Perhaps like me, you found yourself feeling a tad overwhelmed or helpless by the images of damage…cattle being dug out of snow or stranded on islands and whole communities engulfed by water… I think what made this extra hard for me is that so many of our people are hurting and affected. Tornadoes and hail damage are somewhat more isolated for allowing people to more easily respond. This has been harder to help with road and bridge infrastructure damaged in so much of the State. And, unfortunately, we will feel these effects for a long time.
Perspective for me was counting my blessings. Because I rely a great deal on my faith, considering worse things I’ve personally gone through and remembering God’s faithfulness to me helps me with perspective. My family is all safe and we have each other, and my dad’s livestock are also safe. Those statements aren’t true for some I know who lost family and livestock this week and many more that I don’t know. In talking to a farmer friend, he was also sharing how he kept thinking about his blessings and that was the message he was sharing with others. So perhaps thinking of our blessings can help all of us with so much loss all around us? That actually is one of the research-based tips mentioned in this article: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2019/coping-stress-during-crisis.
Nebraskans are so resilient! In the midst of tragedy, the stories of people pulling together to help however they can is heart-warming. Though we may experience more devastation for a time, we will get through this! #NebraskaStrong.
Considerations and resources for now:
- Please heed the warnings of emergency management and Nebraska State Patrol regarding road closures, bridges, etc. People not doing so has put them at additional risk for rescue operations.
- There may be additional places in the future, but this is what was shared with me thus far. Anyone in need of feed for livestock or wishing to donate to help farmers/ranchers affected can consider doing so at Nebraska Farm Bureau’s website: https://www.nefb.org/get-involved/disaster-assistance
- For anyone who has lost livestock, feed, fences in the past month due to weather or flooding, please call your local Farm Service Agency office to report those losses. Losses have to be reported within 30 days and a phone call will start that process. We have additional information regarding considerations for livestock losses that occurred due to extreme weather conditions before this most recent blizzard and flooding. I just don’t have room to cover all that here now.
- We also realize that loss of livestock, farms, etc. is more than a source of income; it’s a livelihood. There’s an emotional component to loss that financial compensation can’t replace. Nebraska Extension cares about you and recognizes the additional stress that can occur to producers and your families during times of crisis and loss. A number of resources are available. The following has helpful tips on how to cope during crisis: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2019/coping-stress-during-crisis
- I’d also ask us all to consider two things. One: continue checking in on each other and seeking to encourage as I wrote about in an earlier news column. Two: consider adding two phone numbers into your address book as we never know when we may need them.
- The Nebraska Counseling, Outreach and Mental Health Therapy (COMHT) Program, 800-464-0258, offers no-cost vouchers for confidential mental health services for persons affected by the rural crisis.
- Nebraska Farm Hotline/Rural Response Hotline – 1-800-464-0258.
- All our flood information can be found at: http://flood.unl.edu.
- We’ve seen entire farmsteads and elevators engulfed by water. Flood-damaged grain is considered adulterated due to the potential for chemicals and other contaminants in the water. It’s also at higher risk for mold damage. More info here: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/flooding-and-stored-grain-cropwatch-june-27-2011.
- If you’re concerned your private well may have been contaminated by flood water, here are some considerations for protecting your well, testing your water, and how to treat it if necessary: https://flood.unl.edu/well-water.
- All disaster recovery resources can be found at: https://extension.unl.edu/disaster-recovery-resources. In particular, those dealing with food safety after power outages: https://extension.unl.edu/disaster-recovery-resources/#tab4
Been hearing reports from our cattle producers about calf loss prior to birth and also after birth. Wet hair coats, low air temps with the windchills we’ve experienced have been brutal. We would recommend reporting your losses. We realize that the Livestock Indemnity Program has criteria for wind chills that may not have been met for each part of the State. However, the unusual weather events this year compounded upon each other led to a very extreme winter and we feel additional factors should be considered. Some Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices have contacted us for additional considerations as well. There’s a team of us working together on this and we hope to release information for consideration by local Farm Service Agency offices and others.
Tyler Williams, Extension Educator in Lancaster County who specializes in weather, shared the following stats with the team of us working on the additional considerations for FSA. Since February 1st:
- Above normal snowfall: 5” (West) to 20” (East) above normal
- Total Snowfall at least 10” for most of Nebraska – Eastern Nebraska 20-30”
- Average temperature was 10°F North/East and 20°F South/West
- Min temps were 10-15°F below normal, Max Temps 10-20°F below normal
- 20 (Southwest) to 30 (Northeast) days the max temp was below freezing
- 6-10 (South) to 20-24 (North) Days the temp dropped below zero
- 10-15 days with measurable precipitation
In the last two weeks:
- Minimum temps dropped to 20 below Central and West, 6-12 below East
- 4-6 (North) to 7-11 (South) days with min temp above zero i.e. 8-10 (North) to 3-7 (South) days the temp dropped below 0
- 4-7 days with measurable precipitation – Almost every other day
- 0 days temps were above 32°F, except for NE/KS border and Southwest Panhandle
- Snowfall 2 (Southwest) to 10 (Central/East Central) inches above normal
- Snowfall ranged from 2-4” in Southwest and Northeast to 7-12+ in Northwest, Central and East Nebraska
- Wind chills dropped to 20-30°F below zero
- Cattle comfort index in “extreme” category
I know a lot of crop farmers have been concerned about field work and how far behind they feel due to the fall. Right now our livestock producers could really use some encouragement too with the brutal calving season, ice/snow covered stalks, high hay prices and blowing through feed with the added energy requirements due to the cold. Another thing that put this winter into perspective for me was seeing the tornado damage in parts of the U.S. There’s just been a lot of crazy weather! Al Dutcher’s forecast doesn’t sound great for the next few weeks either and I realize our next challenges may include potential flooding and muddy lots. However, for now, just seeing the sun shine does wonders in lifting my spirits and have heard several others remark on this too!
Kiwanis and SCCDP Ag Banquet: The 51st Annual Agriculture Recognition Banquet will be held on Monday, March 18 at the Seward County Fairgrounds in Seward. The banquet begins with wine and cheese at 5:30 p.m. and a prime rib meal at 6:30 p.m. Rancher, humorist and cowboy poet R.P. Smith will be the evening’s entertainment. The Brett Borchers family of Utica will be honored as the 2019 Kiwanis Farm Family. Bill Hartmann, owner of Hartmann Construction, will receive the 2019 Seward County Chamber and Development Partnership Ag Business award. Fifteen Seward County students will also be recognized by the Briggs family and the Seward County Ag Society for their agricultural achievements. Tickets for the prime rib dinner are limited to 500. Contact Pam Moravec, banquet chair, (402) 643-7748, or Shelly Hansen, (402) 643-3636, for tickets or information about becoming a banquet sponsor. Tickets are $30 each. The Kiwanis Club of Seward will use the proceeds from the event to support the youth of Seward County through a variety of programs and events, including the Agronomy Academy.
Many stalks in Nebraska are left ungrazed for various reasons. One reason I’ve heard is the potential impact of increased compaction and reduced yield of the next crop. Nebraska Extension has long-term research addressing this concern…in fact, 16 years of research conducted at the Ag Research and Development Center near Mead. There’s various components to this study and you can view the full report at: http://go.unl.edu/8mp6.
In this study, cattle were allowed to graze corn residue in the spring (February to mid-April) or the fall (November through January) and these treatments were compared to an area not grazed. Corn and soybeans were planted the spring after grazing the residue for 16 years to determine the effect of grazing on the subsequent crop yield.
In the fall grazing treatments, the corn and soybeans were planted no-till. For corn or soybeans planted into the spring grazing treatments, three tillage treatments were also implemented for nine years: no-till, ridge-till, and spring conventional till, after which all treatments were converted to no-till. This result of the tillage by spring grazing treatments for either corn or soybean yield over nine years showed no interaction and suggested the same effect on yield regardless of tillage treatment used after spring grazing.
Spring grazing across all tillage treatments did increase soybean yields statistically (58.5 bu/ac for spring grazed vs. 57.0 bu/ac for ungrazed) and had no effect on corn yields. The results were similar looking at 16 years of grazing vs. not grazing under no-till for both corn and soybeans in the spring; there was no yield effect found for corn and the soybeans showed a slight yield increase with grazing.
Looking at a 10 year period of no-till management for both spring and fall grazed corn residue and subsequent corn and soybean crops, fall grazing statistically improved soybean yields over both spring grazing and no grazing (65.5 bu/ac vs. 63.5 bu/ac and 62.1 bu/ac respectively). No grazing effects were observed on corn yields in either season. All statistics were at the 95% confidence level meaning the researchers were 95% confident any yield differences were due to the treatments themselves vs. random chance.
Regarding compaction, in the fall, the field was typically frozen and the researchers felt any mud and compaction associated with grazing cattle was minimized; highest subsequent soybean yields were achieved with fall grazing. The spring treatment was designed to look more at potential compaction and muddy conditions after spring thaw till right before planting-thus the implementation of different tillage treatments as well. They used a stocking rate consistent with UNL grazing recommendations resulting in removal of half the husks and leaves produced (8 lbs of leaf and husk per bushel of corn grain produced). Results of this study indicate that even with muddy conditions in the spring, grazing increased subsequent soybean yields compared to not grazing regardless of tillage system used and that corn yields were not different between grazing vs. not grazing and regardless of tillage system used in the spring. This study was conducted in Eastern Nebraska in a rainfed environment with yields ranging from 186-253 bu/ac with a 16 year median yield of 203 bu/ac.
Additional Grazing Study
A five year fall grazing study (December through January) was conducted in an irrigated continuous no-till corn field at Brule, NE to determine the effect of corn residue removal via baling corn residue or fall grazing on subsequent corn yields. That environment receives limited rainfall and residue is deemed important for reducing evaporation of soil moisture in addition for catching/keeping snow on fields. Farmers were questioning the effects of any residue removal on subsequent corn yields and the study was implemented.
Treatments were 1) fall grazing at 1 animal unit month/acre (AUM), 2) fall grazing 2 AUM/ac, 3) baled, or 4) ungrazed. The researchers found that residue removal did not affect corn grain yields from 2009-2013 in the continuous corn rotation. There were no statistical yield differences with 5 year average yields of: 152 bu/ac, 155 bu/ac, 147 bu/ac and 148 bu/ac respectively for the above-mentioned treatments.
It’s nice seeing cattle being turned out into corn stalks! One point that I haven’t mentioned recently is that we all need to be checking the herbicide label for any grazing restrictions of crop residues.
So check the labels from in-season applied herbicides to row crops and fall-applied herbicides to crop residue for any potential grazing restrictions…and any restrictions on grazing cover crops planted into crop residues following application of those chemicals to a row crop. If the label doesn’t specify any restrictions, then it should be ok. If you want to be on the safe side, a rule of thumb many chemical reps use is to use the pre-harvest interval for the amount of time to wait before grazing stalks.
Some labels will say that residue should not be grazed or baled and fed to livestock. Sometimes studies were actually conducted to know there is a safety concern. In other cases, the chemical company may not choose to conduct all the studies the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) required for labeling due to high costs. If that’s the case, the EPA requires the strongest restrictive language be placed on the label.
Regardless, if it says there’s a grazing restriction on the label, the label needs to be followed as it is a legal document and the law. Your cattle may/may not be affected by grazing stalks or cover crops where a chemical with a grazing restriction is on the label, but there may be other concerns such as problems with the chemical affecting the calf or being retained in the cow’s milk.
For quick references, the 2015 UNL Guide for Weed Management shows Forage, Feed, Grazing Restrictions for Row Crop Herbicides on pages 174-177. A new weed guide will be released January 2016. These pages just provide a reference; it’s truly best to read and follow the label.
Dr. Sheila Purdum, Nebraska Extension Poultry Specialist asked us to share the following
information about avian influenza. Unfortunately, Nebraska has HPAI H5N2 in a commercial flock of laying hens in Dixon County. This is the same virus that has been infecting turkeys in MN and WI and laying hens in the state of IA for the past 3 months. It is a deadly flu virus to poultry, killing as many as 90% of the flock within 3 days of the first symptoms. The major source of the virus has been migrating waterfowl, but it is believed to be airborne now traveling on numerous vectors to include people’s clothing, vehicles and other animals that may have come into contact with migrating waterfowl excrement, dust, etc.
The good news is that Biosecurity measures such as disinfecting all equipment coming into contact with your bird’s environment will help keep it out of small flocks. It is highly advised that backyard flock owners move their birds into indoor shelters and keep them away from interaction with migrating waterfowl on ponds. Simply do not share pasture or space, water with wild birds. This may be hard for some backyard folks, but they are just as susceptible to this nasty virus as the big producers.
USDA is working quickly on an Avian Influenza vaccine; it does have some problems matching strains to what the outbreak virus is (just as in human vaccine development). One other positive outcome is that this strain of AI is not harmful to humans; it is species specific to birds. The USDA/APHIS website provides current updates about outbreaks.
Infected birds that do not perish by natural causes are euthanized when a premise is tested positive and birds are composted on site. If backyard flocks have high mortality, we urge you to call the Nebraska Department of Ag at 877-800-4080.
What if I purchased chicks from a local farm store?
All of those chicks should be clean; breeders could not sell chicks from positive flocks
according to State and National regulations. The virus can incubate and live in an environment for up to 3 weeks before the birds become sick. That is why Biosecurity is the best precaution. Do not visit your neighbors flock, live bird auctions or parks with migrating birds, stay in a high awareness alert to protect your birds. If you have questions, please feel free to call Dr. Sheila Purdum, Extension Poultry Specialist, 402-472-6362; email@example.com.
Dr. Dennis Hughes, Nebraska Department of Agriculture State Veterinarian has shared that swap meets, exotic sales and live bird auctions east of Highway 281 will not be permitted to sell poultry until further notice. In addition, poultry from east of Highway 281 will not be permitted to be sold at swap meets, exotic sales and live bird auctions anywhere in Nebraska until further notice. Questions on this topic may be directed to Dr. Tom Schomer at (402) 471-2351.
County Fairs and Other Shows:
Your local County Extension Office and/or FFA Advisor will keep you updated regarding the status of County Fair 4-H/FFA poultry shows. For those coordinating additional upcoming poultry shows, they would appreciate you informing them. While they have not enacted a ban on poultry shows at present time, they would like to process the risk associated with each show on a case by case basis and help you determine the best course of action for your event.
They ask that you please report a contact name, phone number/email address, the name of your event, date and location via email to Jeanne Egger at NDA via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (402) 471-6880.
This week, I’d like to share some information that came out in a white paper from the UNL Agricultural Economics Department on the special relationship we have here in Nebraska between crops, livestock, and biofuel production capacity not found in other parts of the U.S. to the extent we have here. It’s called the “Nebraska Advantage”.
I think it’s important for all of ag industry to realize we need each other as it seems we sometimes forget how inter-dependent we are. Crop producers need the livestock and ethanol industries as they are a high percentage of our end users. Yet many times I hear of crop producers fighting livestock expansion or livestock coming into an area. The purpose of the white paper was to share the numbers of where Nebraska livestock, grain production, and ethanol production currently stands, and what Nebraska could gain if we worked to increase livestock production in-state where we have a wealth of resources with our crops, water, and biofuel production.
Nebraska currently ranks 1st in irrigated acres, 1st in commercial red meat production and is tied with Texas for cattle on feed, 2nd in corn-based ethanol production, 3rd in corn for grain production, 4th in soybean productions, 6th in all hogs and pigs, and 7th in commercial hog slaughter, and 9th in table egg layers. However, in reading this white paper, one quickly realizes we’re not taking advantage of the tremendous grain production capacity here in the State.
We export over 1/3 of our annual corn crop, at least half of the in-state production of distiller’s grains (a co-product from ethanol production that is fed to livestock), and more than 80% of our soybean meal output. Corn and soybean production have increased in our State by 50 and 25% respectively, which is a blessing due to our irrigation capacity. But increasing amounts of this grain are being shipped out-state instead of benefiting rural economies in Nebraska if it was used in-state for value-added livestock production and processing instead.
In the white paper, graphs are shown comparing Nebraska to neighboring states. These graphs show Nebraska lagging neighboring states in growth of the livestock industry. For example, while Nebraska overall increased in hog production, the inventory increased 17.2% during the first half of the decade, but declined 11.8% in the second half. In comparison, Iowa realized an increase of 31.5% within the decade. What was really interesting to me is the fact that Nebraska exports 2.5 million pigs annually to neighboring states to be finished and shipped back to Nebraska for processing, showing potential for growth in the market hog sector. The dairy sector has also declined in herd numbers in Nebraska compared to other states and Nebraska’s poultry industry (mostly egg laying hens) has declined over the past decade in spite of constant numbers across the U.S.
When one looks at Nebraska’s economy, cash receipts from all farm commodities totaled over $25.6 billion in 2012 and livestock/livestock product sales was 45% of this total ($11.6 billion). Increased employment, local tax revenue, value-added activity, and manure for fertilizer are all economic benefits of livestock expansion. The paper stated,
A base expansion scenario that includes a 25% increase in market hogs, a doubling of dairy cow numbers, a ten percent increase in fed cattle production and a tripling of egg production, along with the associated processing industries, has the potential to provide an additional 19,040 jobs, with labor income of almost $800 million and value-added activity of over $1.4 billion. This activity has the potential to generate over $38 million in local tax revenue. While this amounts to a fairly small percentage of Nebraska’s total economy, these impacts will occur almost entirely in non-metropolitan areas of the state and would be quite beneficial to rural economies.
Livestock development has been held back by various issues and policies including: limitations on corporate farming activity in Nebraska, state and local permitting processes, nuisance roles and lawsuits, and issues/concerns from the general public and interest groups. The final conclusion of the paper was that significant growth in employment and economic output throughout Nebraska is dependent upon these issues being overcome.
I would challenge all of us to keep an open mind when producers desire to diversify by including livestock in their operations or through livestock expansion. In many cases, doing so allows another person to come back to an operation, or allows someone to get started farming, which in the long run benefits our rural economies. It’s ok to ask questions, to become more educated. It’s through these questions that one learns how production practices have changed to ensure the health and welfare of our livestock and in odor reduction from the facility and manure application. You can read the entire white paper contents here.