National Ag Week: As a kid growing up on the farm, I don’t remember thinking about how many jobs outside of farming are agricultural-related. Yet, one in four Nebraska jobs are connected to ag. These jobs provide food, feed, fiber, and fuel and include farming/ranching/livestock and poultry production, processing, manufacturing, transportation, advising/education, storage, inspecting, veterinary/medical, technology, sales, research and development, conservation, government, etc.
What happens in ag impacts all Nebraskans. A strong ag economy (Nebraska ranks #1 in farm cash receipts of all commodities/capita) helps Nebraska’s overall economy. This week is National Ag Week with National Ag Day celebrated on March 22. So, this week I dug into ag facts from Nebraska Dept. of Ag’s ‘Nebraska Ag Facts Brochure’ at: https://nda.nebraska.gov/publications/ne_ag_facts_brochure.pdf and 2022 Ag Facts card: https://nda.nebraska.gov/facts.pdf. Thank you to all who are involved with 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, #2 in cattle on feed, all cattle and calves, beef 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. Every part of a cow is used for a wide variety of products, including leather, fishing line, biodegradable outboard motor oil, pet chew toys and gummy candies.
#1: Nebraska ranks 1st in U.S. popcorn production with approximately 34% of the popcorn consumed in the U.S. produced in Nebraska. Popcorn is a nutritious and low-calorie snack! 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. With approximately 25 operating ethanol plants utilizing corn as the main feedstock, Nebraska produces more than 2 billion gallons of renewable fuel annually. Distillers grains, a co-product of ethanol production, is an important livestock feed. Nebraska also ranks 2nd in alfalfa hay production and 3rd in total grass and alfalfa hay production with hay grown in every county in Nebraska, which is vital to the state’s livestock producers. A surprising fact I learned is that Nebraska is also #2 in bison production.
#3: Nebraska is #3 in corn production. There are 21,500 corn farmers across the state, producing seven times more corn than in the 1920s. Today’s corn farmers grow 87 percent more corn per ounce of fertilizer than they did 30 years ago and have cut erosion by 44 percent through new tillage practices.
#4: Nebraska ranks 4th in soybean production. Soybeans are used in animal feed, human food products, renewable fuel, ink, coatings, solvents, plastics, lubricants and adhesives. 1 bushel of soybeans can make 1.5 gallons of biodiesel. Nebraska also ranks 4th in grain sorghum with it used for livestock and poultry feed, ethanol, and for human food. Nebraska is also ranked #4 in dry edible pea production.
#5-6: Nebraska ranks 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 is the 11th largest wheat producing state; one bushel of wheat weighs 60 lbs on average and can make 64 loaves of bread. For potato chip lovers, Nebraska ranks 11th in potato production with 1/3 of Nebraska’s potatoes processed as potato chips.
In egg production, Nebraska ranks 14th nationally with 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.
Happy Ag Day (March 21) and National Ag Week!
The Agricultural Council of America began celebrating Ag Day in 1973 with the desire to recognize and celebrate the contribution of agriculture in our everyday lives. This program encourages every American to understand how food and fiber products are produced; value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy; and appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant, and affordable products.
Today, each American farmer feeds more than 168 people which is a large increase from 25 people in the 1960s.
Today’s farmers also produce 262 percent more food with 2 percent fewer inputs (labor, seeds, feed, fertilizer, etc.), compared with 1950. Farm and ranch families comprise just two percent of the U.S. population. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, America’s rural landscape is comprised of around 2 million farms with 99 percent of U.S. farms being operated by families – individuals, family partnerships or family corporations. Farmers on average receive only $0.13 of every dollar spent on food at home and away from home.
Regarding Nebraska, the Nebraska Department of Ag reports in its “2016 Ag Facts” card that cash receipts contributed almost $23 billion to Nebraska’s economy in 2015 and 6.1 percent of the U.S. total.
- Nebraska’s ten leading commodities (in order of value) for 2015 cash receipts are cattle and calves, corn, soybeans, hogs, chicken eggs, dairy products, wheat, hay, dry beans and potatoes.
- Every dollar in agricultural exports generates $1.22 in economic activities such as transportation, financing, warehousing and production.
- Nebraska’s $6.4 billion in agricultural exports in 2015 translates into $7.8 billion in additional economic activity.
- Nebraska’s top five agricultural exports in 2015 were soybeans, feeds and fodders, beef and veal, corn and soybean meal.
- Nebraska had 48,700 farms and ranches during 2015; the average operation consisted of 928 acres.
- In 2015, Nebraska had 25 operating ethanol plants with a total production capacity of over 2 billion gallons. Nebraska ranked 2nd among states in ethanol production and utilized 31% of the state’s 2015 corn crop.
- Livestock or poultry operations were found on 49% of Nebraska farms.
- 1 in 4 jobs in Nebraska is related to agriculture.
- From east to west, Nebraska experiences a 4,584 foot elevation difference and the average annual precipitation decreases by one inch every 25 miles.
- Between 2007-2012, Nebraska experienced a 5% increase in the number of farms and 10% increase in the number of new farmers.
So agriculture is of huge importance to our economy! It was interesting to see the change in some of these numbers compared to last year, a sign of the economic times we currently face in the agricultural industry. Information is being shared each week at our CropWatch web site to help.
Please be sure to thank a farmer and those who work in the agricultural industry this week! Without them, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the safe, affordable, healthy food supply and choice we have as consumers!