Celebrating and Growing Nebraska Agriculture
March 24, 2021 | View PDF
From March 21-27, 2021 we celebrate National Agriculture Week in Nebraska. It’s a great opportunity to highlight the hard work our farmers and ranchers do to produce high-quality and affordable food. The crops and livestock they raise feed families in our state, across the nation, and around the world.
Agriculture is our number one industry. It adds more than $21 billion to our state’s economy each year. Nebraska’s cash receipts from agricultural commodities are greater than ag receipts in Florida, Colorado, and New York combined. On a per capita basis, we generate more revenue from agricultural commodities than any other state.
Even with the global pandemic, 2020 was a strong year for U.S. corn and soybean exports. Soybean exports were up 38 percent over 2019, and corn exports were up 20 percent. American wheat exports in 2020 also topped 2019’s totals. The outlook is good for ag export growth to continue. Last month, the USDA forcasted the value of U.S. ag exports to hit record highs in 2021 (federal fiscal year).
While Nebraska beef exports in 2020 were down slightly (4 percent) compared to 2019, we fared better than the national average. This allowed us to climb past Texas to regain our #2 ranking among beef exporting states. We also gained market share in the European Union. Nebraska now supplies 62.6 percent of beef exports to the EU.
Activists like PETA are pushing a radical anti-agricultural agenda aimed at hurting states like Nebraska. They’re using false stereotypes of livestock agriculture to gain control over how Americans eat, drink, and make a living. While other states may abandon agriculture to appease radical environmentalists, the State of Nebraska will continue our proud and unwavering support of livestock producers.
Nebraska is the Beef State. The livestock industry is a prominent part of our state’s history and culture. Ranchers and feedlot owners in Nebraska are committed to quality care of the land, the water, and their animals. Beef is one of the most nutritionally dense foods we have, and it’s a great part of a healthy diet. To counter ill-informed attacks on animal agriculture, I declared March 20th as “Meat on the Menu Day” in Nebraska. I encouraged Nebraskans to fire up the grill or visit their favorite steakhouse on Saturday.
We’re continuing to grow Nebraska by taking the crops raised here and adding value to them through innovative manufacturing processes. Promoting biofuels is an important part of supporting value-added agriculture in our state. Ethanol saves drivers money at the pump so that they can keep more money in their wallet. Filling up with ethanol reduces toxic emissions, which leads to cleaner air. Ethanol also creates opportunities for Nebraska’s farmers—35 percent of the corn grown in our state goes to our ethanol industry.
In June 2019, the State launched an EPA-approved pilot program to study the use of locally sourced E30 biofuel in conventional state-owned vehicles. We wanted to find out if the vehicles could run on E30 without maintenance problems or any decrease in performance. Teammates in the Nebraska Department of Administrative Services (DAS) outfitted 40 State vehicles with onboard vehicle tracking systems to capture data on vehicle performance. The Nebraska State Patrol also participated in the study with 10 patrol vehicles. They monitored those vehicles for an entire year. At the end of the evaluation period, DAS submitted the data to engineers at UNL for analysis.
Earlier this month, I joined the Nebraska Ethanol Board and a professor from UNL to announce the groundbreaking results of the study. The results clearly demonstrated that E30 is a safe and reliable fuel for conventional vehicles. Having proof of its effectiveness will be a great benefit as we advocate for increasing the volume of ethanol in our nation’s fuel supply.
While the State of Nebraska stands behind our ag producers, the Biden Administration is pursuing policies that threaten the future of agriculture in America. I am especially troubled by President Biden’s January 27th executive order on the climate. It sets a goal of restricting “at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030.” Attaining this goal would require far-reaching federal interventions to regulate the use of land and natural resources. While purporting to encourage conservation, this sort of government interference would hurt agriculture by taking away opportunities for our ag families to grow their operations.
Our farmers and ranchers are the original conservationists. They’re innovators in managing the soil, stewarding our abundant water resources, and enriching animal habitats on their lands. Earlier this month, US News & World Report ranked Nebraska as the sixth-best state in the category of “Natural Environment” due to the great quality of our air and water. By contrast, the State of Delaware—which President Biden represented as a U.S. Senator from 1973 to 2009—ranked sixth-worst in the nation for its natural environment. Nebraskans don’t need bureaucrats in Washington telling us how to care for the land.
We’re watching the Biden Administration closely, and we’ll take action to oppose federal overreach that would harm agriculture here in Nebraska. We’ll also continue looking for creative ways to support our farmers and ranchers through initiatives like “Meat on the Menu Day.” If you have questions about our work to grow agriculture in Nebraska, email [email protected] or call 402-471-2244.