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

Nebraska County Export Values . . .


Economic Tidbits logoInternational trade and foreign markets are critical to Nebraska agriculture.  To get a sense of which Nebraska counties are most reliant on international trade, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture has created a map showing export values by county for select commodities (see below).  Commodities included are beef and beef products, corn, dairy products, distillers grains, ethanol, pork and pork products, pulses, sorghum, soybeans and soybean products and wheat.  The map was created using 2015 Nebraska cash receipts data and attributing shares to counties based on county production data.  Platte County topped the state with export values of $245 million.  Custer, Holt, Boone and Cuming Counties fall in the next tier with export values between $125-$150 million.  Most counties in Nebraska generate at least $25 million in export values, which no doubt contributes significantly to their local economies.

The top counties stand to gain the most from increased access to foreign markets.  Free trade agreements with Mexico, Canada, Korea, Colombia and others, while benefitting all counties, have been particularly beneficial to these counties.  An analysis last year of the benefits of the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) by Nebraska Farm Bureau showed many of these same counties would have benefited from the $378 million in increased receipts Nebraska was projected to receive under the agreement.  The map clearly demonstrates it is in the interest of Nebraska agriculture to continue to press for more open international markets in agricultural products.
county exports


Jay Rempe is the senior economist for Nebraska Farm Bureau. Rempe’s background in agricultural economics, years of experience in advocating at the state capitol, and firm grasp of issues allow him to quantify the fiscal impact of a regulatory proposal, and provide in-depth examination of key issues affecting Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers.

Nebraska Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Maintain Optimism in the Face of Tougher Economic Times


Left to right: Matt & Elizabeth Albrecht, Brian & Amy Gould, James & Katie Olson, Todd & Julie Reed

The future of agriculture relies upon the ability of young people to maintain and grow their farms and ranches. While the recent downturn in the agricultural economy could lead one to be pessimistic about the future, after a recent National Affairs visit to Washington D.C., the Nebraska Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee, continue to remain optimistic about the years ahead.

“Given the importance of agriculture to the overall health of Nebraska’s economy, it isn’t hard to see why Nebraska has successfully weathered and even prospered through the economic uncertainty of the past. Yet, recent USDA projections of an over 30 percent reduction in net farm income, as compared to 2013, along with continued tax and regulatory challenges, could signal trouble on the horizon. These continued challenges make it more important than ever for our state’s young farmers and ranchers to speak out about the challenges they face on their operations,” Steve Nelson, president of Nebraska Farm Bureau said.

“Of particular concern is a 33 percent rise in operating debt since 2012. As farmers and ranchers are adding debt, they have also been drawing down financial assets, such as cash or equity. Young and new farmers and ranchers are of particular concern as their ability to handle such a downturn is significantly less than a well-established farmer or rancher,” Nelson said.

However, with great challenges comes even greater opportunities. Throughout the trip, increased agricultural trade, Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), was highlighted as a way to provide a necessary boost to the agricultural economy. Passage of TPP continues to be a Farm Bureau priority. According to analysis conducted by the American Farm Bureau (AFBF), the TPP will increase annual net farm income by $4.4 billion and increase U.S. agricultural exports by $5.3 billion per year.

“Nebraska also stands to make significant annual gains from the TPP with a $378.5 million increase in ag cash receipts and a $229.2 million boost to ag exports. According to the Nebraska Farm Bureau analysis, Cuming, Custer, Platte, Dawson, and Lincoln counties would be among the biggest winners under TPP, as those counties would each experience more than $10 million in additional cash sales of agriculture commodities per year once TPP trade protocols are fully enacted. Congress needs to pass the TPP quickly as we continue to lose market share in many of the TPP member nations each day this agreement is not in place,” Nebraska Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee Chairman Todd Reed said.

Another issue front and center during the trip was the GMO Labeling bill, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives while the group was in town. This important piece of legislation will help provide certainty to food companies who would have been unable to work through a patchwork of state GMO labeling laws.

“As with all compromises, there are pieces we like and pieces we don’t. The bill’s mandatory nature continues to be a problem for us, however we simply could not allow a system of state-based GMO labeling to occur. While not perfect, the Roberts-Stabenow compromise bill will set a national standard on GMO labeling utilizing digital disclosure technologies,” Reed said.

Besides visiting with Nebraska’s Congressional Delegation, the Nebraska Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers met with the Federal Aviation Administration to discuss recently released rules regarding the commercial use of “unmanned aircraft systems”, or “drones”, and met with CropLife America and Syngenta to discuss the latest efforts to remove the well-known product Atrazine from their toolbox of crop protection products.

“The list of challenges young farmers and ranchers face is no doubt long. However, the need for young producers to answer the call of growing food for our nation and world remains as strong as ever. Continuing to communicate our message to key decision makers is vital to the future success of our nation as well as for farm and ranch families,” Reed said.

Those attending the National Affairs visit are:

Steve Nelson, president Nebraska Farm Bureau – Kearney/Franklin County

Todd and Julie Reed, chairman YF&R Committee – Lancaster County

Brian and Amy Gould, District 3 representative YF&R Committee – Cedar County

Matt and Elizabeth Albrecht, District 7 representative YF&R Committee – Dawson County

James and Katie Olson, District 6 representative YF&R Committee – Holt County

Husker Walk-Ons, Ag Economy – Strikingly Similar

Memorial Stadium Blimp Color

Whether you’re a passionate fan or simply a bystander, it’s hard to escape the hype that surrounds college football recruiting today. If you somehow managed to missed it, Feb. 6 was national letter of intent day, where high school senior football players from across the country signed on the dotted-line to let colleges and die-hard followers know where they will be taking their lightening quick and physically gifted talents over the course of the next four or five years.

It’s the day ESPN and others put the hype machine in gear to try and generate drama from decisions made by 17-18 year old kids that have never so much caught a pass, made a tackle or much less scored a touchdown on a Division 1 college football field. The popping of flash-bulbs, talk of three-, four- and five-star prospects and efforts to compare this new crop of athletes to college football legends is all in full swing. That of course all leads to the talk of what schools did well, and which schools have been seemingly left with little hope for the future. It’s simply a sign of the times.


Being a true-blue (or red) Husker fan, we all want to do well in the recruiting game. But not that long ago there was a time when the average Nebraska fan didn’t worry quite so much about whether a Husker class was loaded with four- and five-stars. Nebraska had a secret weapon, one that replenished every year. This weapon didn’t draw attention from national pundits, but was widely known even in the smallest communities across our state. Our secret weapon was the walk-on. The blue collar, lunch pail carrying kid, who showed up in Lincoln maybe not with the most talent, stars or hype, but simply a whole lot of pride, passion and old-fashioned want to.

On numerous occasions I’ve heard past Husker greats talk about what it was like to come play at Nebraska and the impact the walk-ons had on them as they watched the dedication in action and witnessed it carry some of these determined kids from relative obscurity into the starting rotation. The walk-on was and is the foundation of something bigger. While they don’t necessarily get the headlines, their contributions over the years have been unmistakable and reflected in decades of winning and championships.

It hadn’t struck  until recently just how much Nebraska’s agriculture economy had in common with the tradition of the walk-on program. Certainly many of these athletes come from rural communities, but the comparison was more so in agriculture’s broader public perception.


As a state we don’t often publicly celebrate or acknowledge the decision of a young farmer or rancher to return to their community to reinvest in the family farm or ranch like we do the placement of a more prominent, well-known company. The scope of investment and job creation between the two are most likely different, however, for the vitality of a rural community that decision by a young farmer or rancher is equally important. As a state we are always aggressively looking to create a climate to land that next four- or five-star business that will bring with it hundreds of new, high-paying jobs. And we should. But it would be a mistake to lose sight of the economic importance and role agriculture plays in our economy.

A UNL study released this past June shows agriculture accounted for more than 40 percent of our state’s total economic output and created more than 289,000 jobs (one out of every four in the state). That’s enough jobs to employ every man, woman and child in Kearney, Neb., more than nine times over. Certainly agriculture is an economic player.

Not so long ago we had a coach who was in charge of the Husker football program who chose not to embrace the value and culture of the walk-ons, ignoring history, and instead choosing to focus solely on the more flashy four- and five-star recruits. The results were less than stellar and a foundation built on decades of commitment and passion crumbled. The winning simply stopped. It was a tough lesson for coaches and fans alike.

As a state we would be well served to make that connection when it comes to our economy. Just like the Huskers we should continue to grow and bring in the best to fill Nebraska’s business roster, but it would be a mistake to forget the farmers, ranchers and other associated agriculture businesses that the foundation of our state’s economy is built upon.