The American Family Farm

Family farms are the perfect example of roots. Many of us may have memories of riding in the tractor with grandpa or going out to feed the cows with dad. Those memories create roots, and we grow from our roots. Establishing a positive beginning is key to a positive experience. Without family farming, we essentially wouldn’t have anything. People who work in most ag fields today got their taste of agriculture through family farms. Continue reading

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

Five Tips That Can Make Life Easier for Crop Insurance Claims.

Whether its rain, hail, or heavy winds, fall harvest has been rough in Nebraska. Tough weather can mean yield loss and reasons to look at whether losses are covered by your crop insurance.

Continue reading

Precision Technology and Profitability . . .

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Research by Mike Castle, Brad Lubben, Joe Luck and Taro Mieno of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln shows the adoption of precision technology on farms is associated with profitability, but the researchers couldn’t definitively answer whether precision technology adoption led to increased profitability.  The researchers sought to answer the question of whether the adoption of technology drives increased profitability, or whether increased profitability drives technology adoption.  Using survey data gathered from members of the Nebraska Farm Business, Inc. (NFBI), estimates of adoption rates for various precision technologies since the 1990s were developed.  Technologies examined included global positioning system (GPS) guidance, automated section control, telematics, yield monitors, site-specific soil sampling, variable rate application of inputs, and crop imagery.

Figure 1 shows the adoption rates of various technologies by NFBI producers.  The researchers found yield monitors (YM), grid soil sampling (GSS), GPS-based guidance and auto-steer (AS) have been widely adopted with 70 percent or more of the NFBI members surveyed saying they have adopted the technology.   Over one-half of the NFBI members surveyed said they use GPS-based automatic section control (ASC) and variable-rate application of fertilizers and seed.  Only small percentages of producers have adopted the remaining technologies.  The adoption rates for NFBI producers are substantially higher than those reported in a USDA ARMS survey.  The researchers attribute the higher adoption rates to the fact producers in the NFBI program are more concentrated in crop production and are likely to be more progressive and management-oriented than average crop producers.


tech and profit

Source:  Precision Agriculture Adoption and Profitability, Cornhusker Economics, June 21, 2017

The researchers’ initial analysis found the adoption of technology was associated with higher net farm income. However, association alone does not prove causation.  A more in-depth analysis showed positive effects on net farm income of technology adoption, but the results were not conclusive enough to determine definitively whether the adoption of precision technology had a positive effect on net farm income.  The analysis also showed the profitability of technology adoption increases over time as producers’ experiences with the technologies mature.

The research concluded the overall economic impact of technology adoption remains unclear.  Clearly more research is warranted to study the economics surrounding the use of precision technology.   Experience in the field would suggest there are benefits of technology, or their adoption would not rise over time.  Further research will help illuminate these benefits.  For more information on the research, Click Here.


Jay RempeJay 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.

Life Happens – Learn to Bounce

Despite what you do for a living, who your friends and family are or where you live – life will present you challenges. While moms are often a sounding board for all of their family members’ life challenges, how moms handle these challenges is what often defines the direction of family life.

As a city-born kid turned farmer’s wife and mom, Susie Oberdahlhoff (O for short) uses her life lessons as a farm wife, mother and preachers daughter to bring a unique sense of humor to everyday experiences and brings a positive outlook to life. Susie O has traveled around the country from her home in Missouri to bring this message to mothers, business people and organizations.

“Life isn’t about how fast you run or how high you jump; but how well you bounce!” – Susie O

Recently, Susie came to Nebraska and gave her program, Kids, Crops, Sows & Cows; Life Happens – Learn to Bounce. The presentation showcases her 4 P’s of Prosperity in an upbeat manner that matches her life motto: if you rest, you rot!

4 P’s of Prosperity –

Be Proud of what you do
Be Positive about life
Be Patient – Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Be Persistent – Keep trying and trying and trying


See a portion of Susie’s presentation here –


–Kassi Williams is a proud farmer’s daughter growing up on a cow/calf and grain farm in Iowa. She earned a Bachelor of Science from Iowa State University, majoring in both animal science and public relations. She has been involved with agriculture from birth, working in multiple facets of the industry including the USDA and Extension. Kassi relocated to Nebraska in 2012 to work for a marketing communications agency for a multitude of agriculture clients.

Snow Dancing

The state of Nebraska was hit with its second snow storm of the winter earlier this week causing snow days for many and traffic delays for all. While the snow brought an inconvenience, Nebraska is still many inches of precipitation behind for most years. Leading to the looming question, how will the continued lack of snow and rain impact the ongoing drought?

With record lows for precipitation and highs for temperatures, 2012 took the record for both in the 12-year U.S. Drought Monitor data history. Nebraska was the epicenter of the drought this summer, and drought conditions continue to worsen in the beginning of 2013. As you can see in the maps below, at this time last year only a small section of moderate drought conditions existed in Nebraska. However, this year the entire state is in exceptional or extreme drought.

Jan. 3, 2012 Drought Monitor

Jan. 3, 2012 Drought Monitor

Jan. 29, 2013 Drought Monitor

Jan. 29, 2013 Drought Monitor

Nebraska’s family farmers are using innovation to ensure they meet growing global demand, while protecting and preserving precious natural recourses we all depend upon, such as water, by using:

  • Conservation tillage – Many farmers don’t use plows any more, as new tillage practices focus on disturbing the soil as little as possible. This cuts back on the number of trips across the field saving fuel and reducing soil compaction. Also, leaving residue such as cornstalks in the field conserves soil moisture and reduces the amount of fertilizer, nutrient and irrigation required to grow a healthy crop. Field residue also prevents soil run off when snow melts.
  • Advanced seed technology – Seed companies have led the charge to develop seed that is resistant to drought
  • Irrigation research – Through soil moisture monitoring, Nebraska farmers are working to cut back on the water they use without affecting yields
  • Precision technology – Modern tractors and machinery are equipped with GPS to eliminate overlaps in planting and fertilizer application. Satellite mapping ensures farmers apply just the right amount of nutrients in the right place.

Energy required to produce a bushel of corn over the past two decades has decreased by 37%

While the technology farmers are using helps them to be more environmentally responsible, efficient, and accurate, they still need certain levels of moisture to produce a yield required by a growing and hungry population. So, here’s to rain dancing…or snow dancing!


–Kassi Williams is a proud farmer’s daughter growing up on a cow/calf and grain farm in Iowa. She earned a Bachelor of Science from Iowa State University, majoring in both animal science and public relations. She has been involved with agriculture from birth, working in multiple facets of the industry including the USDA and Extension. Kassi relocated to Nebraska in 2010 to work for a marketing communications agency for a multitude of agriculture clients.

Fiscal Cliff Breakdown

Lawmakers finally broke a deal in the 13th hour of first day of 2013, below are details of the fiscal cliff deal that was passed by the House last night and signed into law this morning by the president. The deal prevents numerous taxes credits and the expiration of President Bush tax rates. However, the bill also sets the stage for continuing battles on spending for the duration of 2013.

U.S. Capitol night2

Income Taxes

  • Permanently extends the 10% income tax bracket
  • Permanently extends the 25%, 28% and 33% income tax rates on income at or below $400,000 for individual filers, $425,000 for heads of households and $450,000 for married couples filing jointly
  • Increases to 39.6% the rate on incomes above $400,000 for individual filers, $425,000 for heads of households and $450,000 for married couples filing jointly

Estate Taxes

“We encouraged Congress to extend 2012 estate tax provisions to preserve the $5 million exemption level and maintain a 35 percent tax rate to protect a significant number of Nebraska farm and ranch families from being subject to the death tax. Had Congress failed to act the exemption would have lowered to $1 million which would have broadened the reach of the estate tax to more Nebraska farms. Congress’ action to keep the $5 million exemption is a positive. However, Congress ultimately raised the rate to 40 percent which is a concern,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation president.

  • Permanently extends the current exemption amount, exempting estates up to $5.12 million ($5 million indexed for inflation for years after 2011)
  • Increases the maximum rate to 40% — an increase from the current 35% rate — for estate values above the exemption amount
  • Extends gift tax levels of a $5.12 million ($5 million indexed for inflation) exemption and a 40% top rate

Capital Gains and Dividends

  • Extends the current capital gains and dividends rates on income at or below $400,000 (individual filers), $425,000 (heads of households) and $450,000 (married filing jointly)
  • Under current law, the capital gains and dividend rates for taxpayers below the 25% bracket is equal to zero percent. For those in the 25% bracket and above, the capital gains and dividend rates are currently 15%.
    • Increases the rate to 20% for both capital gains and dividends for income in excess of $400,000 for individual filers, $425,000 for heads of households and $450,000 for married couples filing jointly

Small Business Tax Credits

“We are pleased Congress included tax provisions to help small businesses, the backbone of America’s economy. Congress increased the maximum amount small businesses can expense for capital purchases up to $500,000 for next year while also extending the 50 percent bonus depreciation for the purchases of capital assets. Both provisions will help farmers, ranchers and other small businesses when they invest in new equipment and assets to improve their operations,” said Nelson.

  • Extends the provision to allow businesses to deduct from their taxes 50% of the value for property placed in service before the end of 2013 in addition to amounts that they could otherwise claim under depreciation rules. Bonus depreciation is allowed against both the regular tax system and the Alternative Minimum Tax.
  • Increases for 2012 and 2013 the Section 179 expensing limit to $500,000, with the phase-out beginning when investments exceed $2 million

Individual Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) Relief

  • Increases the AMT exemption amounts for 2012 to $50,600 for individuals and $78,750 for married couples filing jointly and indexes the exemption and phase out amounts thereafter

Farm Bill Programs Extension

“Disappointing for Nebraska farmers and ranchers is the decision to include, but not fund, much needed livestock disaster programs, despite the fact that both Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate supported re-authorization for these programs. Given the seriousness and impacts of the lingering drought, re-authorization and funding for these programs was critical, and now all we have is uncertainty and a reality that funding is highly questionable,” said  Nelson. “It is our hope that a new Congress will use 2013 to reevaluate the opportunities to address these issues through a new five-year farm bill.”

  • Extends through the end of FY 2013 (Sept. 30, 2013) most provisions of farm policy as they were in effect on Sept. 30, 2012, under the 2008 Farm Bill, including direct payments
  • Extends current commodity terms and conditions for all commodities for the 2013 crop year including sugar beets
  • Extends through Dec. 31, 2013, the Dairy Product Price Support Program and the Milk Income Loss Contract Program
  • Maintains the maximum enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program at the same level (32 million acres) that has applied for fiscal years 2010 through 2012
  • Authorizes $30 million in discretionary funding for the beginning farmer and rancher development program, which received $49 million in mandatory funding in FY 2012
  • Authorizes funding, but does not provide actual dollars, for certain agricultural disaster assistance programs for FY 2012 and 2013, including:
  1. $80 million a year for livestock indemnity payment
  2. $400 million a year for the livestock forage disaster program
  3. $50 million a year for emergency assistance for livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish
  4. $20 million a year for the tree assistance program
  • Authorizes discretionary funding for two programs under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps). SNAP’s employment and training programs would be authorized at $79 million for FY 2013 (an $11 million reduction from the $90 million in mandatory spending it received in FY 2012).

What are your thoughts on the deal? Take action and contact your senator or representative.