Production agriculture is the backbone of the economy in western Nebraska. In fact, it reigns supreme across all Nebraska.
Cash receipts from farm marketing contributed over $21 billion to Nebraska’s economy in 2017, according to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. One in every four jobs in Nebraska is related to agriculture.
Nebraska ranks No. 1 in beef and beef product exports, commercial red meat production, commercial cattle slaughter, Great Northern bean production, all cattle on feed and popcorn production. The state is second in all cattle and calves, all hay production, pinto bean production, proso millet production, light red kidney bean production and bison number of heads.
The list of top 10 honors continues with corn exports, soybean exports, sugar beet production, sunflower production, winter wheat and many more all in the top 10.
In 2017 there were 45,200,000 acres in farms and ranches in Nebraska; only three states had more. This accounts for 91% of all the land in Nebraska.
It is very clear that whether you live and work in Scottsbluff, Valentine, Oakland, McCook or Omaha, the success of those in production agriculture is vital to your well-being.
The old saying, “if the farmer (ag producer) is smiling, everyone is smiling,” is so true.
This is why fair trade deals are so important. Why an extended trade war hurts or why natural disasters such as hail storms or floods cut deep. It is also why a canal breach causes havoc not only on the farmers who will watch their crops dry up, but also on the communities where these ag producers live and shop.
A new report from the University of Wyoming Extension and Nebraska Extension says the impact of the July 17 tunnel collapse on the Gering-Fort Laramie canal could climb as high as $89 million if a total crop loss occurs on the 107,000 acres that use the water provided by this canal.
The estimated direct economic impact from the collapse is $34.5 million in Scotts Bluff County and $17.4 million in Goshen County.
These numbers impact families involved in production agriculture and those reaping the benefits of their hard work or, in this case, feeling the pain from their losses.
A relief fund has been established to help the ag producers impacted by this disaster. Donations may be dropped off at the Oregon Trail Community Foundation office or at any Platte Valley Bank branch in Wyoming and Nebraska. They can also be made online at otcf.org or pvbank.com/give.
These hardworking men and women help provide you with the least expensive food supply in the world. Because of them the vast majority of your hard-earned money, 96.4%, can go to other things besides putting food in you and your family’s bellies.
According to the USDA, in 2015 Americans spent only 6.4% of their income on food. No other country spends less.
If you lived in the United Kingdom, you would be spending 8.2% of your income on food. If you were a Canadian, 9.1% of your income would go toward food. If you lived in Guatemala, 40.6% of your income would go toward food. In the Philippines, it's 41.9% and in Nigeria, you would be spending 56.4% on food.
Take the amount you are presently spending on food, pretend you live in Canada and increase it by 1.8% or pretend to be from the Philippines and increase it by 31.5%. What would you have to give up to cover the difference?
Ag producers play a key role in our national, state and local levels. What happens to them will impact every person whether you live on a farm or ranch, in a small town or a large city.
Property tax relief, profitable prices, illuminating the urban rural divide, and helping your neighbors impacted by the canal breach are a few issues important to ag producers and also to you.
Say a prayer for Nebraska’s ag producers, tell them thank you, and give to the relief fund. If you do, you will be helping yourself.