The Glories of May

TulipsEvery year as May returns, Mother Nature gives us the return of sunny days and cool spring rains after a long Nebraska winter. And, this year it is a welcome return with our abnormally cool spring. May is also when many gardeners’ hearts seem to beat a bit faster because winter is gone and spring has returned. Whether it is the blooming of flowering trees, the patchwork color of fresh annuals being planted, or the start of the landscape planting, May offers plenty to remind us of the start of our landscape growing season. Continue reading

Nebraska Soybean Yields vs. Corn Yields

Economic Tidbits 12.18.17

Does the exceptionally high soybean yields in recent years mean soybean yields are increasing relative to corn yields?  Gary Schnitkey, an agricultural economist at the University of Illinois, recently examined this question.  Using state yield data from the National Agricultural Statistics Service for 1972 to 2017, Schnitkey examined corn and soybean yield trends across the Corn Belt to see if soybean yield increases are outpacing those in corn.  For Nebraska, Schnitkey found the state average corn yield increased an average of 2.0 bushels per year between 1972 and 2017.  At the same time, the average soybean yield increased by .65 bushels per year.  The soybean yield-to corn yield ratio averaged .30 over the period and did not exhibit any trends. (see Figure 9 below).  The soybean-to-corn yield ratio was .34 in 2016 and .32 in 2017.  Continue reading

Agricultural Land Taxable Values Down . . .

Economic Tidbits 12.18.17

The taxable value on agricultural land declined 2.77 percent in 2018 according to the Nebraska Department of Revenue.  Taxable value for all real property increased 0.96 percent, with residential and recreational property value growing 3.66 percent, and commercial and industrial property growing 6.94 percent. The decline in agricultural land values marks the second consecutive year taxable values have shrunk.  Prior to last year, the taxable value on agricultural land had not declined since at least 1993, and perhaps as far back as the late 1980s.  It may seem like a distant memory, but just three years ago, the taxable value of agricultural land statewide increased almost 20 percent.  Since then, market values for land have declined between 15-20 percent and these declines are now being reflected in taxable values.  Expect taxable values to continue to decline over the next few years due to the lag effect in how taxable values are set.  Values are set using data on sales prices from the three years prior to the tax year for which the taxable values are being set.

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Nebraska Crop Values . . .

Economic Tidbits 12.18.17

The value of Nebraska’s 2017 corn crop is $5.55 billion and the soybean crop is $2.95 billion according to recent USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA-NASS) estimates.  The corn production value is third-highest in the nation, falling behind Iowa at $9 billion and Illinois at $7.7 billion, and the soybean crop value is the fifth-largest.  The figure below shows the values of Nebraska’s corn and soybean crops since 2010.  The 2017 corn crop value is lower compared to 2016, but the soybean crop value is slightly higher.  The corn crop value exceeded $9 billion in 2011, but has since fallen to where it has been around $6 billion or less in recent years.  On the other hand, the value of the soybean crop has consistently hovered around $3 billion through the years.  The drop in corn prices and acres in production are both reflected in the lower crop values for corn.  Soybean prices have also come down, but increases in acres and higher yields have mitigated the effects on overall crop value.    Continue reading

Why I Chose Agriculture

amanda with cowAs a senior in high school, the season of college visits, applications, scholarships and making decisions has arrived. It’s almost a daily occurrence for me to be asked, “What are you going to do after high school?” While this question causes anxiety for some of my peers, I answer it with confidence. Fortunately, I know the passion I want to pursue following graduation: agriculture. My love for agriculture began when I was old enough to say cow and only intensified by my involvement in 4-H and eventually FFA. However, as I provide my solid answer to the frequently asked question about what my major is going to be in college, my reply is often received with surprise. “You’re going to go into agriculture? Really? Don’t you want to do something else? You’re so smart, don’t you want to do more with your life?” I just smile, shake my head, and reassure them that agriculture is the field I desire to work in. Most people don’t understand why my decision to seek a career in agriculture was such an easy one to make. Here are the four biggest reasons why I choose to be the future of agriculture: Continue reading

The Big Mac and the Dollar . . .

Economic Tidbits 12.18.17

“The Big Mac and the Dollar” may read a bit like the title of a children’s fairy tale (i.e. Jack and the Beanstalk), but it isn’t.  Instead, it’s an agricultural economist’s not-so-clever way of introducing a discussion on the value of the dollar.  Nebraska agriculture relies on exports, and the value of the dollar is a key determinant in determining the competitiveness of Nebraska agricultural products in international markets.

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What’s Ahead for 2018 . . .

Economic Tidbits 12.18.17

The USDA expects prices for corn, cattle, and soybeans to be off a bit in 2018.  Prices for wheat and hogs are expected to be higher.  Given the large production levels of all these commodities in recent years, prices, while soft, have been stable due to relatively strong demand, boosted in part by robust export markets.  The strong demand needs to continue, and, thus far, signs point to demand remaining strong.  For example, Jim Robb, director of the Livestock Market Information Center, recently said the average American is expected to eat 219 pounds of red meat and poultry this year, the highest level since 2007.

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