‘It was horrendous’: Staggering losses to Nebraska agriculture predicted by the end of the year due

The Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) says the agricultural industry was nearly knocked out by COVID-19.

Nebraska is known for its farmers. From local markets to international trade, their impact can be seen worldwide. But, this year, the Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) says the industry was nearly knocked out by COVID-19.

The numbers? They project agriculture this year will see about a 2.4 billion dollar loss. The beef industry accounting just under one billion of that, at 971 million dollars.

“I saw some figures just yesterday that Kansas’ loss to the beef sector is $1.3 billion,” said NEFB Senior Economist Jay Rempe. “So, if a anything this might be on the low side because it is my sense that our beef sector is a little bit bigger than Kansas'”

In addition to beef, corn and soybeans are expected to lose 1.2 billion dollars. But, the impact on ethanol may be even greater.

“It’s a pretty major sector in the state of Nebraska, it generally runs over 3 billion dollars in revenues and I think it employs close to 1,900 people in the state,” said Rempe. “If nothing else were to change for the rest of the year, we will be looking at some significant losses for the state of Nebraska”.

Although our state’s agricultural scene is pretty resilient, Rempe said the pandemic proved to be a tough opponent.

“It was kind of a one-two punch,” explained Rempe. “People lost their jobs, saw a loss of income… and then with the ethanol with the shutdown, people not traveling as much anymore, they don’t need as much gas, they don’t need as much ethanol. So, that was kind of the first punch. The second punch came in late March and April with the supply shocks to the system”.

Rempe says it wasn’t a complete K.O., but when meat packing plants, like Crete’s Smithfield, closed their doors, it left farmers seeing stars. Coming into the year, they were expecting record productions, “so when COVID came along and we saw the demand shock and the supply shock, it was a double whammy to the livestock sector in Nebraska”.

For more information on this years projected agriculture numbers, visit nefb.org.

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