As we’re celebrating National Ag Week in Nebraska this week, be sure to thank a farmer.
Whether it’s the fruit and vegetables we enjoy so much each year when the farmers markets open up, the meat, eggs and daily products that are a daily part of a nutritious diet, the corn that is used to make the ethanol in our fuel, or the wool and fleece from livestock that are used to make our clothing, we all are reaping the rewards of ag producers’ hard work.
Gov. Pete Ricketts visited central Nebraska Tuesday to tout the importance of agriculture to the state. He visited Loup River Distilling in St. Paul, a company that distills whiskey, vodka and gin using the corn grown on the Montemagni family’s farm. The state also has vineyards, wineries and breweries, all of which are good examples of value-added agriculture, providing employment to small towns like St. Paul and contributing greatly to the state’s economy.
The governor also visited the Frenzen Sale Facility in Fullerton on Tuesday and then planned to go on to Diller and Johnson to visit more ag-related businesses.
Agriculture is Nebraska’s No. 1 industry. Ricketts said one in four jobs in the state are linked to agriculture. It also represents about 20% of the state’s economy.
“It is one of the reasons why our state had done so well through this pandemic,” he said. “Everyone needs to eat and our farmers and ranchers work very hard to make sure that we can put food on our table.”
On a per capita basis, Nebraska generates more revenue from agricultural commodities than any other state. In order of value, Nebraska’s top five agricultural commodities in 2019 were cattle and calves, corn, soybeans, hogs and dairy products.
Last year, Nebraska ranked No. 1 in the nation in commercial cattle slaughter with 6.982 million head. It was also the nation’s second-leading beef exporter at nearly $1.3 billion.
The state was also second with all cattle and calves, as of Jan. 1, totaling 6,850 million head. It was also second in all cattle on feed, as of Jan. 1, with 2.72 million head.
Nebraska is also second in the nation in commercial red meat production with 7,911 billion pounds last year. Nebraska is the nation’s sixth leading pork slaughter state.
The state’s livestock production and grain production are intertwined as 40% of the corn produced in the state is used as livestock feed. Ethanol is also a big user of Nebraska corn, making the state the second leading ethanol-producing state in the nation. There are two dozen corn ethanol plants in Nebraska employing thousands of people and adding value to a commodity that Nebraska is the nation’s third leading producer.
Ricketts pointed out that Nebraska’s agricultural receipts total $21 billion - with $12 billion of that from the livestock industry.
To add to the strength of Nebraska’s beef industry in the future, it recently was announced that a group of feedlot owners, ranchers and former Cargill employees are looking to break ground on a nearly $300 million packing plant in North Platte this fall. The packing plant is planned to be completed by 2023 and employ about 875 people, with a planned kill capacity of 400,000 head per year.
The plan is for the plant to procure and kill subscribed cattle from ranches and feedlots within a 200-mile radius. North Platte officials say the plant could create a $1 billion economic boost for the community and that’s good for all Nebraskans.
Grand Island and the state of Nebraska are in good shape economically because of the contributions of our state’s ag producers.
Thank a farmer for The Good Life that we all enjoy in Nebraska.