Steve NelsonSupporting One Another in Tough Times

Blizzards, floods, tough economic conditions…2019 has tossed them all at Nebraska agriculture, creating plenty of challenges for many of our farm and ranch families and our rural communities.

The latest setback happened July 17, when a tunnel collapse and subsequent canal breach left roughly 107,000 acres of crops in Nebraska and Wyoming without access to surface water irrigation during a critical time of the growing season. Many will have no other option for moisture than what Mother Nature might provide in an area of our state that averages less than 20 inches of precipitation a year.

As I write this, repair work on a temporary fix is underway, but it’s unclear when water will return to the canal. Of the total acres impacted, 55,000 are in Nebraska, where farmers planted corn, sugar beets, dry beans and alfalfa. In this dire situation, yield loss is a certainty, with total crop failure a possibility. The unknowns of this difficult situation will play out over the next several weeks. In a year where sharing thoughts and prayers for so many in agriculture is the norm, please add these farm families to your list, as I have to mine.

As you know, farmers and ranchers tend to be independent thinkers and doers. The “can do” attitude and accompanying optimism is in their DNA. It has to be when your livelihood involves the risks associated with putting a seed in the ground or producing livestock. The realities of agriculture don’t allow for anything less. With that said, disasters are called “disasters” for a reason, and we’ve had more than our fair share this year. They can take the steam of out of the strongest strides and cause doubt in the strongest of wills.

In a year like this one, it’s my hope that Nebraska farmers and ranchers know that being open to accepting help in tough times isn’t a weakness, it’s a strength. It doesn’t matter if the situation involves recovering from a flood or facing a challenging financial situation. There are many resources available to help. The Nebraska Rural Response Hotline (800-464-0258), is a good place to start. The University of Nebraska Extension has also developed a “Wellness in Tough Times” online resource available at

For those who might feel uncomfortable reaching out for help, know this, there are thousands of people around this state and this country who support and appreciate the work of our farm and ranch families. It’s one of the things that became abundantly clear to me working around the Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Disaster Relief Fund and witnessing the generosity of those who donated to the cause. More than anything, that experience has shown me there are plenty of people who want Nebraska farmers and ranchers to do well and to succeed.

Similarly, if you know someone who needs help, don’t be afraid to reach out or tell someone. Letting others know we care can make all the difference.

Working together for agriculture is what Farm Bureau is all about. Never is that more important than when farm and ranch families are working through tough times.

Until Next Time,

Steve Nelson