Ag Week 2023
Happy National Ag Week! What happens in ag impacts all Nebraskans as 1 in 4 Nebraska jobs are connected to ag. A strong ag economy (Nebraska ranks #1 in farm cash receipts of all commodities/capita) helps Nebraska’s overall economy. “In 2020, every dollar in agricultural exports generated $1.03 in economic activities such as transportation, financing, warehousing and production. Nebraska’s $7.1 billion in agricultural exports in 2020 translates into $7.4 billion in additional economic activity.” Also, 92% of Nebraska’s land is used for farming and ranching to grow the food, fiber, and fuel we rely on each day. The following are from Nebraska Dept. of Ag’s ‘Nebraska Ag Facts Brochure’: https://nda.nebraska.gov/publications/ne_ag_facts_brochure.pdf and 2023 Ag Facts card: https://nda.nebraska.gov/facts.pdf. Thank you to all who are involved ag-related careers! And, for youth, there’s numerous opportunities to pursue ag-related careers in the future!
#1: Nebraska’s largest ag sector is beef production with Nebraska leading the nation in commercial cattle slaughter. We moved up and are currently tied with Texas as #1 in all cattle on feed at 2.78 million. #2 in all cattle and calves, beef and veal exports, and commercial red meat production. Nebraska’s beef industry generates approximately $10.6 billion in annual cash receipts. With 6.8 million head of cattle, cattle outnumber people in Nebraska more than three to one.
#1: Nebraska ranks 1st in U.S. popcorn production with approximately 34% of the popcorn consumed in the U.S. produced in Nebraska. Nebraska also ranks 1st in Great Northern bean production, 2nd for pinto bean production and 4th in the nation for all dry edible bean production.
#2: Nebraska is #2 in ethanol production capacity. With 24 operating ethanol plants utilizing 32% of Nebraska’s corn crop as the main feedstock, Nebraska produces more than 2.5 billion gallons of renewable fuel annually. Distillers grains, a co-product of ethanol production, is an important livestock feed. Nebraska is also #2 in bison production.
#3: Nebraska is #3 in corn exports and we fell to #4 in corn production (perhaps another result of 2022 storms). Today’s corn farmers grow 87% more corn per ounce of fertilizer than they did 30 years ago.
#4-7: Nebraska is ranked #4 in dry edible pea production. We rank 5th in soybean exports and we fell to 6th in soybean production. We also rank 5th in grain sorghum production and 5th in the nation for production of sugar beets, with half of U.S. sugar production coming from sugar beets. Nebraska is 6th for all hogs and pigs on farms and in commercial hog slaughter. Nebraska ranks 7th in alfalfa hay production.
Nebraska is the 14th largest wheat producing state; one bushel of wheat weighs 60 lbs on average and can make 64 loaves of bread. We are ranked 8th for organic cropland acres and 8th for all hay production.
I’m unsure of avian influenza’s impact on these numbers in 2022: Nebraska has approximately 9.1 million birds populating Nebraska’s commercial laying facilities producing more than 2.6 billion eggs/year. Nebraska ranks 25th in total milk production from dairy cattle. There are around 78,000 sheep and lambs raised in Nebraska and Nebraska is home to more than 24,000 meat goats and around 3,500 dairy goats.
There’s so much to be proud of regarding agriculture in Nebraska! Yet, ag increasingly is blamed for many problems. Every industry can improve. It’s times like this, like now, that I wish I could see more unity within ag. So often I hear divisions…divisions around tillage practices, use or not of cover crops, grass fed vs. grain fed, conventional vs. organic, direct vs. non-direct marketing, etc. Divisions impact our ability to provide united messages and solutions when attacked. These divisions also impact our consumers’ view of ag. I’m blessed with an incredible career to learn from all of you I serve…to learn why you each do what works for you and watch you adapt! We all observe each other’s operations as we drive around the countryside. Do we silently criticize or are we curious? How often do we actually have a conversation, seeking to understand why a neighboring farmer/livestock producer chooses a specific practice or marketing strategy? My encouragement to all of us, especially within ag, is to seek to understand, learn from, and encourage each other. Find common ground on the things that unite us so we can continue to produce food for our families, this nation, and the world in years to come. As we’re seeing throughout the world, we can’t take farming and food production for granted! May we seek to celebrate the opportunities we all in ag provide consumers: safe products and a choice of products at various price points consumers can purchase!