Only one-third of Nebraska’s corn crop is exported out of the state. The rest is processed through livestock and ethanol and then exported as food, fuel and related products.
This value-added activity boosts employment and earnings and adds prowess to Nebraska’s agricultural economy, which is unmatched by any other place except South Dakota in terms of impact on the entire state, according to a new report from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The report uses statistics from 2010.
"The 2010 Economic Impact of the Nebraska Agricultural Production Complex" was written by Eric Thompson, UNL Bureau of Business Research; and Bruce Johnson and Anil Giri, Department of Agricultural Economics.
Some of agriculture’s share of Nebraska's total economy in 2010:
-- Total sales volume: $68.88 billion (41 percent of the state's total sales volume)
-- Total gross state product: $22.64 billion, 27 percent
-- Employment: 289,200 jobs, 24 percent
-- Total wages and proprietor's income: $13.67 billion, 25 percent
In short, the agricultural production complex accounts for about one-fourth of Nebraska's total economy, the report says.
But the authors also caution that Nebraskans should develop a more comprehensive statewide strategy for long-term sustainability of its ag industry to contend with "growing external forces that may not have the best long-term interests of Nebraska in mind."
Economic downturns in agriculture are inevitable and their impact will be magnified in Nebraska. In fact, the report says, economic volatility in agriculture is likely to increase.
Authors predict continued growth for Nebraska's ag production complex, with exports likely to grow to China, India and other countries in Asia and Latin America. They also predict more growth in food processing, agriculture-oriented manufacturers and biotechnology companies and in the transportation industry.
"Overall, Nebraska is positioned, like few other areas of the country, to capitalize on the strength of its agricultural production complex," the authors wrote. "This state has a thriving bio-economy tied to a rich natural resource endowment and skilled human capital which will only increase in importance in a world of rising global demand for food and other agriculturally based output."
"That said, however, economic volatility arising from agriculture will tend to ripple through the state's total economy, often triggered by external forces of both national and global origin.
"This signals a clear need of a more comprehensive state-level strategy for long-term sustainable development around its agricultural base," the authors wrote.
The report said that strategy could include streamlining of regulations, enhancing investment opportunities for new and emerging agricultural technologies, providing workforce training and management education, expanding basic and applied research for innovation in agriculture, sustainable stewardship of natural resources and enhancing quality-of-life for citizens across the state.
"This will involve the need to engage all stakeholders in a shared vision for the state and a commitment to pursue it. To do otherwise could expose the state to growing external forces that may not have the best long-term interest of Nebraska in mind," the report concludes.
The study was a joint effort of the UNL Department of Agricultural Economics and the Bureau of Business Research within the Department of Economics and was funded by the university's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. It is available online at agecon.unl.edu. Hard-copy versions are available for $7 per copy from the Department of Agricultural Economics at UNL, 102 Filley Hall, Lincoln, NE 68583-0922.