Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Agriculture our state’s strong suit

Agriculture our state’s strong suit


Nebraskans depend heavily upon their agricultural industry. It’s the state’s largest breadwinner, accounting for 34% of the gross state product. That’s $81.88 billion from the state’s agricultural production complex, according to a study of 2017 ag economics. The same study determined that even during hard times, Nebraska agriculture’s diversity insulates it from severe downturns.

If you think 2017 data is dated, researchers tapped it because that year was the last time a census of agriculture was conducted.

Even in a year like 2017 with low commodity prices and modest farm incomes, between one-fifth and one-fourth of Nebraska’s economy was attributed to the agricultural production complex, the study found.

“Few other states have an economy with this degree of agricultural prominence,” said Mike Boehm of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “Even as our cities grow and our economy diversifies, agriculture remains critically important to the economic prosperity of Nebraska, and it will long into the future.”

Many of the jobs in Nebraska — about 23.3 percent — were tied to agriculture in 2017. That’s 321,000 workers earning a total of $14.3 billion.

“Even though commodity prices were relatively low in 2017, producers still hired workers, bought and repaired equipment and made other business decisions that kept most aspects of Nebraska’s agricultural production complex strong,” the study concluded. That fact shows that farmers and ranchers tend to make investment decisions based on long-term trends, rather than based on a single good or bad season.

During the great recession of 2008-09, the tendency of farmers to make decisions based on the long term rather than short term helped insulate Nebraska’s economy from the recession. The study’s authors theorize that, like the insulating effect 12 years ago, Nebraska’s economy also will shield the state from adverse economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The virus is depressing prices, especially for some commodities, but the ag sector isn’t shutting down. Rather, it is holding up Nebraska’s overall income.

The full INAR report is available at Here’s the good news: Just as agriculture has strengthened our state’s economy even as other states’ economies are on the skids, Nebraskans will continues to benefit. We have a product that’s in demand.

Just look at the growing number of middle-class citizens in China. They’re developing a taste for good Nebraska products.

As trade agreements overseas, no doubt, will strengthen our state’s economy.

Catch the latest in Opinion

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

Imagine this scenario: Your daughter comes home from college. She shares with you that earlier in the week, a girl on her floor invited a bunc…

Bubbling mud. Booming caverns. Rising steam. Old Faithful. Locked restrooms. Such were the five memorable days I spent with my son Matt last w…

Our governor has sorely let down our great state of Nebraska. In a recent interview he said, “Please, folks,” begging them to follow COVID-19 …

This week, I returned to Kearney to celebrate the life of my brother, J.R. Martin. When my nieces told me that Horner Lieske McBride & Kuh…

I just wanted to write in response to the “We Care, We Wear” billboard sponsored by UNK and the “Be Kind, Wear a Mask” sign that’s been floati…

How can Christians support Trump? Can they honestly believe he shares our core values as followers of Christ? He is not compassionate. We’ve h…

Let’s start with the COVID-19 virus. I just heard a fellow from Los Angeles blame his own state’s Rep. Nancy Pelosi for the virus because when…

Nebraska took a beating from the COVID-19 virus during the last few weeks. Indications are it will get worse. COVID-19 is in all of our 93 counties.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


Breaking News