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Harvest Time in Nebraska

By Governor Dave Heineman

The fall harvest season is in full swing and Nebraska’s farm families are putting in long hours to bring in what is expected to be record and near-record crops for many commodities.

I had an opportunity to visit with many producers recently when I spent a day last month at Husker Harvest Days. The event is a tradition for many Nebraska farmers and ranchers. It attracts producers and exhibitors from across the country.

Periodic rains this season have helped crops to be prosperous with a much-reduced need for irrigation. The outlook for an above-average yield, coupled with decent prices, led to optimism by many Husker Harvest Days participants I spoke with.

Farmers are eager to be in the fields as reports have predicted the potential for record yields for both corn and soybeans. Good growing conditions across much of the state this year have benefitted corn and soybeans in particular. Both crops have matured ahead of last year, which has allowed farmers to get into the fields earlier than last fall when cool, wet weather made for a complicated harvest.

Western Nebraska producers are busy bringing in dry bean and sugar beet crops, winter wheat is being seeded, and ranchers are preparing to pull cattle in off pastures, moving spring calves to backgrounding or feedlot locations.

Harvest time is a good reminder of how important the success of Nebraska farmers and ranchers is to our state. A recent study of Nebraska’s growing industries highlighted the fact that our strong agriculture industry has helped maintain a relatively stable and positive outlook for the Nebraska economy, buffering many communities from feeling the full impact of the national economic slowdown. The outlook is not as bright in other parts of the country where agriculture plays a lesser role.

Strong demand for Nebraska’s agricultural exports has contributed to our stability. As economies around the globe improve, demand for agricultural exports is expected to remain strong. Asian countries are among the key growth areas and Nebraska is well-positions for continued growth in several markets. In August, Agriculture Director Greg Ibach returned from a trade mission to Taiwan and Hong Kong with an agreement for sales of $436 to $516 million of Nebraska grain commodities over the next two years.

A recent report by Battelle further emphasizes the critical role of our farmers and ranchers to the Nebraska economy. The report noted our diverse economy with at least 12 industries positioned for growth. Some of those industries include: renewable energy, transportation-warehousing and logistics companies, hospitality and tourism, food processors, research and development, and the biosciences. Each of these sectors has a connection to Nebraska agriculture and is the reason that one in three Nebraska jobs is tied to the work of our farmers and ranchers.

Fall harvest is the culmination of months of hard work for our farmers and ranchers. Their work is critical to our state’s ongoing economic development and progress.