Celebrate Nebraska Agriculture!
National Ag Week is March 21-27
Director, Nebraska Department of Agriculture
Agriculture is more than Nebraska’s number one industry. It’s the heart and soul of Nebraska and cause for celebration! Every year during National Ag Week, we celebrate agriculture and thank the people behind the food, feed and fuel we depend on every day. This year, National Ag Week is March 21-27.
If we’ve learned anything in the ag industry these past two years, we’ve learned that life certainly has a way of handing us many unexpected challenges and opportunities. Even with our best efforts of planning, we sometimes deal with unexpected events and even unprecedented ones. Who would have predicted historic flooding, an irrigation tunnel collapse and a world health pandemic all within a two-year span?
One thing we know for certain. Nebraska agriculture has always responded positively when needed most. The state’s farmers, ranchers, agri-businesses and ag organizations have risen to the task time and time again. Such was the case with Nebraska’s historic flooding in 2019 and has been the case since the onset of COVID-19.
Farmers and ranchers across the state felt the rippling effects of COVID-19 from the start as the food industry was one of the hardest hit. The constant positive for Nebraska, is the persistent response and productivity driven by our farmers and ranchers. Once again, Nebraska agriculture delivered an abundant, safe, healthy and sustainable supply of food, feed and fuel for us and for consumers around the world. Productivity and persistence show in everything that we do and in every top national ranking we achieve.
Nebraska ranks first in the nation for commercial cattle slaughter (2020) and second in the nation for just about every other aspect of cattle and beef production: beef and veal exports (2020); all cattle and calves (Jan. 1, 2021); all cattle on feed (Jan. 1, 2021); and commercial red meat production (2020).
The top national rankings start with beef but go much further. Nebraska is ranked first in Great Northern bean production (2020) and first in popcorn production, too (2017, Census of Agriculture). Nebraska also has a reliable supply of corn (third in the nation—2020) and soybeans (fifth in the nation—2020) for livestock feed and renewable fuels, like ethanol where Nebraska ranks second in the nation for production (2020). Our grain and livestock production places us number three in total ag production value in the U.S. These rankings and more make Nebraska agriculture worth celebrating.
Agriculture continues to be Nebraska’s largest economic driver and job creator by supporting one out of four jobs plus contributing more than $21.4 billion a year to the state’s economy in 2019. Ag exports, $5.8 billion of that number, are only part of the story. Every dollar in ag exports generates $1.28 in economic activities such as transportation, finance, warehousing and production.
Agriculture touches everyone’s lives and connects all of us somehow. While we cannot predict the details of what is in store for the industry in the future, we can set our priorities and expectations to move forward. Nebraska agriculture will continue to grow and add value by expanding livestock production, attracting investments and business expansions, and growing international trade.
Since Nebraska farmers and ranchers produce more food than we use, we need to continue to help expand our domestic and international markets for their products. Their safe, high quality food products fill our plates and fuel tanks here and around the world.
Thank you for letting me use National Ag Week as an opportunity to shine a spotlight on Nebraska agriculture. During this week and always, remember to thank the farmers, ranchers and ag industry for providing us with the food, feed and fuel that we use every day.
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