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NE ag. losses projected at nearly $3.7 billion due to COVID-19

The economic impact of COVID-19 on agriculture in NE
Posted at 11:40 AM, Jun 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-10 19:40:11-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — A new report by Nebraska's Farm Bureau is estimating billions of dollars in losses due to the ongoing economic impact of COVID-19.

The bureau said, "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 give that some perspective, Nebraska Farm Bureau senior economist and author of the report, Jay Rempe said, "$3.7 billion is more than 80 percent of the state of Nebraska’s entire budget."

The report breaks down the losses in each sector as so:

  • $1 billion in the beef sector
  • $1.17 billion in the soybean and corn sector
  • $1.3 billion in the ethanol sector
  • $166 million in the pork sector
  • $66 million in the dairy sector
  • $8.7 million in the wheat sector

Bill Armbust, who farms in Elkhorn, says due to low prices over the last several years, farmers have produced more product than usual to make up for the lost.

Now with decreased demand, there's nowhere for the crop, or livestock to go.

“It becomes as you can probably find out pretty quick a problem that doesn’t have a solution,” says Armbrust.

And he's someone who planned on farming until he wasn't physically able, he's now re-thinking that strategy.

“I would farm as long as I possibly can. When does it become a hobby farm is probably the question on my wife’s mind or my banker’s mind," says Armbrust.

He also worried about young farmers, who don't have family financial backing.

“I don’t think they’re going to have a choice, I think they’re going to be removed from the business," says Armbrust.

Although things look grim, the Nebraska Farm Bureau is hoping things might take a turn for the better.

“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.

You can find the full report here.