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Nebraska Farm Bureau estimates state ag losses could approach $3.7 billion

Staff Writer
Syracuse Journal-Democrat

Analysis conducted by the Nebraska Farm Bureau indicates Nebraska’s agricultural economy could face nearly $3.7 billion in losses due to COVID-19 in 2020 if economic conditions do not improve. The estimate is based on a “snapshot” of revenue losses projected for 2020 commodities that make up the bulk of the state’s agricultural economy including corn, soybeans, wheat, beef cattle, and pork production, as well as dairy and ethanol.

“To provide some perspective, $3.7 billion is more than 80 percent of the state of Nebraska’s entire budget. We are talking about the potential for major losses. And while the analysis does not account for any financial assistance farmers and ranchers may receive through state and federal COVID-19 relief programs, it clearly demonstrates the magnitude of the financial challenges currently facing farm and ranch families and the potential impacts that could be felt across the broader rural economy,” said Jay Rempe, Nebraska Farm Bureau  senior economist and author of the report.

The analysis shows potential estimated losses in the beef cattle sector alone could reach nearly $1 billion in 2020, with corn and soybean losses combining for another $1.17 billion. Potential losses for the ethanol sector could reach $1.3 billion according to the report, assuming Nebraska’s ethanol plants are unable to run at more than 75 percent of capacity for the remainder of the year. The analysis further pegs potential losses in the pork sector at $166 million, with dairy losses near $66 million, and $8.7 million in COVID-19 related losses for wheat growers.

“As we reach the halfway point of the year, we’re hopeful things will improve between now and December, but this analysis clearly shows how damaging COVID-19 has been to our agricultural economy and what we could be facing moving forward,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president. “We greatly appreciate the fact that our elected leaders have understood the importance and need for financial assistance programs so farmers and ranchers can continue to ensure the food supply for the people of our state, our country, and the world.”

The “COVID-19 and Nebraska Agriculture Potential Estimated Losses” analysis is available on the Nebraska Farm Bureau COVID-19 webpage at www.nefb.org/covid-19.

The Nebraska Farm Bureau is a grassroots, state-wide organization dedicated to supporting farm and ranch families and working for the benefit of all Nebraskans through a wide variety of educational, service, and advocacy efforts. More than 58,000 families across Nebraska are Farm Bureau members, working together to achieve rural and urban prosperity as agriculture is a key fuel to Nebraska’s economy. For more information about Nebraska Farm Bureau and agriculture, visit www.nefb.org.