NEFB Newspaper

President’s Column – October 2021

Challenges bring opportunity for Nebraska to be agriculture epicenter

Have you ever seen the humorous t-shirts with the saying “I’m kind of a Big Deal”? I’ve found them to be cute on kids (particularly grandkids) and funny on adults. It’s hard not to appreciate the light-hearted way in which they allow someone to “toot their own horn” letting the world know they’re important.

When it comes to agriculture, we (farmers and ranchers) tend not to be gratuitous self-promoters. Tooting our own horn doesn’t come naturally, despite the fact our family operations are critical to produce the food, fuel, and fiber that powers our country and the world. Calling those contributions “kind of a Big Deal” would be more than an understatement. That’s why a considerable amount of my time as Nebraska Farm Bureau President is dedicated to connecting with influencers outside of agriculture. It’s imperative they understand the importance. We have a tremendous story to tell about how Nebraska farmers and ranchers (working in conjunction with our industry partners) have made Nebraska agriculture a powerhouse.

The numbers alone paint quite a picture. Nebraska has the third largest agriculture economy in the nation, ranking first in the U.S. in commercial cattle slaughter and popcorn production; second in the number of cattle and calves, commercial red meat production, beef exports, and ethanol production; and third in corn production, corn exports, and hay production. The list goes on and on.

Nebraska is also a major global player due to the United States prominence in agriculture trade. The U.S. is the world’s largest agriculture exporter sending nearly $140 billion worth of agriculture products into international markets each year, with Nebraska being the sixth largest exporting state in the country.

I’m also quick to point to the critical role agriculture plays in our state’s economy where nearly one-third of business sales, roughly 22 percent of our gross state product, and one out of four Nebraska jobs are generated by agriculture and agriculture related businesses. Needless to say, “kind of a Big Deal”.

Nebraska agriculture’s achievements haven’t happened by accident. They’re built on the work of farmers and ranchers and their willingness to adopt new practices and access new technologies developed by our industry partners.

New challenges present new opportunities, opportunities that could elevate Nebraska agriculture from powerhouse to agriculture epicenter. In a world where science fiction has rapidly become science fact through advancements in digital technology, it will take great support and collaboration from production agriculture, public and private entities, and our elected leaders to make sure the research and development of cutting-edge technologies exist to help production agriculture meet the challenges of our modern world.  

It’s the reason Nebraska Farm Bureau is leaning into important dialogue with partners across the supply chain on issues like cybersecurity, climate and environment, and technology’s role in addressing labor issues. I’ve made it a priority to carry our members voices into these conversations to point out that Nebraska not only has the potential to lead the country, but the world in these areas. And we should. Few states are as reliant on the work of farmers and ranchers, and the businesses that support them on the front side of production and the backside in converting commodities to food, fuel, and fiber.

For more than 100 years, Nebraska Farm Bureau has been a leader for agriculture and the voice of Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers. Our support for our members continues to grow and in the process we’re working to elevate Nebraska agriculture form powerhouse to epicenter.  Because whether it’s on a t-shirt or not, agriculture is “kind of a Big Deal”.

Wishing you a safe and bountiful harvest,

Mark McHargue, President

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