Farmer Appreciation Day July 25 Celebrates State's No. 1 Industry

Farmer Appreciation Day July 25 Celebrates State's No. 1 Industry

July 24, 2009

Did you know?

  1. Nebraska ranks No. 1: Nebraska ranks first nationally in production of commercial red meat. — Nebraska Agriculture Fact Card*
  2. No. 1 again: Nebraska has more irrigated farmland acres than any other state. One in six acres of U.S. irrigated farmland is in Nebraska. — 2007 Census of Agriculture
  3. No. 2: Beef is big business in Nebraska. Nebraska ranks second in the U.S. in cattle and calf sales, with a Jan. 1, 2009 inventory of 6.35 million head. — Nebraska Agriculture Fact Card*
  4. No. 4: Nebraska ranks fourth nationally in amount of acres in farms and ranches, and also consistently ranks fourth in total agricultural receipts. — 2007 Census of Agriculture
  5. Top 100: Cuming, Dawson, Phelps, Lincoln and Platte counties in Nebraska are in the top 100 agricultural counties nationally, largely because of livestock receipts. — 2007 Census of Agriculture
  6. No. 1 and 2 again: Nebraska is first in Great Northern bean production. Nebraska also ranks second nationally in pinto beans and proso millet production. — *Nebraska Agriculture Fact Card
  7. And No. 3: Nebraska is third in the nation in producing corn for grain, with nearly 1.4 billion bushels produced in 2008. Nebraska also is third nationally in production of grain sorghum and all dry edible beans. — *Nebraska Agriculture Fact Card
  8. Top 10: Nebraska's 10 leading commodities, in order of importance for cash receipts, are: cattle and calves; corn; soybeans; hogs; wheat; dairy products; chicken eggs; hay; grain sorghum and dry beans. — *Nebraska Agriculture Fact Card
  9. No yolk: 2.78 billion eggs are produced in Nebraska annually, which ranks it seventh nationally. — USDA National Ag Statistics Service
  10. What we eat: The average person in the U.S. each year consumes 21 gallons of milk; 126 pounds of fresh fruits; 197 pounds of flour and cereal products; 245 eggs; 117 pounds of red meats; 33 pounds of cheese; 85 pounds of poultry; 21 pounds of rice; 202 pounds of fresh vegetables. — USDA Economic Research Service
  11. Spent on food: Less than 10% of American disposable income is spent on food — less than is spent on taxes. — USDA/Department of Commerce
  12. The world is our customer: Nebraska is a leading state in agricultural exports, ranking fifth overall in total dollar volume in fiscal year 2008, with a rank of third in feed grains and products, and second in live animals and meat. — USDA Economic Research Service
*The Nebraska Agriculture Fact Card is a cooperative effort of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, USDA, NASS, Nebraska Field Office, Nebraska Bankers Association and Nebraska AgRelations Council.

State Sen. Heath Mello took some good-natured ribbing from fellow senators questioning the amount of agriculture in his district when he proposed a resolution making July 25 Farmer Appreciation Day in Nebraska.

Mello, who represents Omaha's District 5, took it in stride. "My intent with LR256," Mello said, "was to raise awareness of the importance of agriculture, especially as an urban senator. Agriculture is the backbone of the Nebraska economy."

Mello said that whether food in Nebraska is grown for local farmers markets or for worldwide distribution, "we want to build a healthy, sustainable way of life that cuts across urban and rural communities."

Sustainability is key to Nebraska's agricultural strength.

Bruce Johnson, agricultural economist in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said strengths found in variations in Nebraska's water, land and soils make the state a rich and diverse source of crop and livestock enterprises.

Differences in climate from the southeast to northwest corners of Nebraska are as great as from the East Coast to Nebraska's east border, Johnson said.

"Nebraska has a unique set of natural resources that position it to be a national and international leader," Johnson added.

Brad Lubben, IANR public policy specialist, agreed, saying the art and science of Nebraska agriculture has continually grown since 1862, when the Homestead Act, the Morrill Act creating land-grant colleges, and the Pacific Railway Act that built the transcontinental railroad all passed, and fueled it.

Nebraska's standing as a powerhouse agricultural state not only provides consumers a safe and plentiful food supply, it also provides a number of Nebraskans employment.

One in three Nebraska jobs relates in some way to agriculture, according to a 2006 Nebraska Policy Institute report on the importance of agriculture and agribusiness to Nebraska's economy. Those jobs occur in both rural and urban areas, and range from agriculture and agribusiness to transportation, processing, insurance, banking and much more.

Citing USDA data, Lubben added that in 1950, U.S. farmers and ranchers received 41 cents of every retail dollar spent on food eaten in the U.S. Today, their share of the food dollar is 19 cents, with the other 81 cents going for packaging, transportation, labor, etc.

Mello said that "Nebraska farmers make important contributions to the conservation of our natural resources, including water, soil and forests."

"The farmer/producer is a major resource manager for society," Johnson said, which grows ever more important as the world's population and needs increase.

He pointed out that Nebraska has five of the top 100 agricultural counties nationwide, largely because of livestock receipts.

Lubben and Johnson both said human resources are among Nebraska's — and agriculture's -- most significant assets. Nebraska producers often are community and state leaders, and are "economically astute with a commercial mindset," Johnson said. "We all prosper from that."

Lubben agreed. "When agriculture does well, it contributes to the strength of the state's economy."

Saying it is his understanding that high agriculture prices helped the state in the current recession, Mello noted, "If the ag economy was not as strong, we would have felt a much stronger hit economically. With Farmer Appreciation Day, it is important to be mindful of the challenges of a new global economy."

While agriculture is not immune from general economic crunches, such as the global price of oil, Lubben and Johnson said agriculture's future, and that of bioenergy, continues bright in Nebraska.

Nebraska agriculture accommodates large-scale producers and also is seeing a growing number of smaller-scale direct market producers, Johnson said, showing resiliency in terms of adaptability, and providing "a mosaic of agriculture of which Nebraskans can be proud."

Daniel Moser