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

Get To Know Your Nebraska Farmers: Debbie and Terry Borg

You might say Debbie and Terry Borg of Allen, Neb., had their first date in a cornfield. She had just moved to the state as district sales manager for eastern Nebraska for a seed company that is now part of Syngenta. Two-and-a-half hours of discussing the health and potential of the crop led to other meetings and their marriage two years later in 1995.

Debbie Borg

Debbie grew up on her family’s acreage near Berthoud, Colo., and helped with her family’s purebred Suffolk sheep operation. She showed sheep in 4-H and earned college money by “fitting sheep” – getting them ready for competition. She earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business and later coursework for a master’s of agriculture with a communications emphasis, both from Colorado State University.

Terry’s great-grandparents purchased 160 acres near Wakefield after they came to the U.S. from Sweden; he’s the fifth generation of his family to farm. Terry and Debbie’s wedding on July 1, 1995, was exactly 100 years after his great-grandparents’ wedding on the same date in 1895. It was a great honor, Debbie says, when they had the opportunity four years ago to buy the home place where Terry’s grandmother grew up.

Terry and his three brothers all farm together and also have their separate farming operations. Some of his brothers have cow-calf operations, but Terry and Debbie “background” cattle: They care for cattle weighing about 500 to 600 pounds and feed them hay and corn from their farm until the animals are about 900 pounds and ready to go to the feedlot.

Daughters of Debbie and Terry Borg: Hannah, almost 16; and Heidi, 14.

“The feedlots are really great at putting the last 300 to 400 pounds on them,” Debbie explains. The Borgs retain ownership of their animals so they have options for marketing the finished cattle.

The couple has three children: Hannah, almost 16; Heidi, 14; and Hunter, 11. The children attend Wakefield Public Schools and all are 4-H’ers. They’ve shown horses and bucket calves, along with doing sewing and cooking projects.

Hunter has five cows of his own and also feeds bucket calves, with some support from his Dad and Uncle. His bucket calves are put in with the family’s pens of cattle and he retains ownership of the animals when they go to the feedlot.

Terry and son Hunter, 11, pouring cement.

“As someone who grew up outside of production agriculture, I really believe some farmers are born with dirt in their blood – and that would be our son,” Debbie says. This summer Hunter ran the tractor and packed silage by himself.

The Borgs grow soybeans as well as corn and Debbie has been a leader for the industry. She is a soy educator for the Nebraska Soybean Board and visits fourth grade classrooms in northeast Nebraska, explaining how soybeans are used in so many products that affect our lives daily.

“I’m continually amazed how many rural kids don’t know any more about agriculture than city kids,” she says. “I have to be intentional with my own children, in making sure they understand what we do on the farm and why. They are bombarded with so much information and a lot of it doesn’t support sustainable agriculture.”

Debbie also educates and informs about agriculture through her blog, “Growing Food….Our family farm story.”

She is also past president of the Nebraska Soybean Association and was the American Soybean Association’s point person on animal care issues. Her leadership experience has been wonderful, she says. “It’s been an amazing opportunity and privilege to represent soybean farmers” with the Nebraska Legislature and Congress. She urges all farmers to participate in their commodity and farm organizations:

“Every acre counts, just as every vote counts. There’s so few of us (farmers and ranchers), we need everyone to be involved, no matter what size your operation. We need to have a collective voice on issues and that’s why our organizations are so important: If we are not there to share our stories, a lot of other organizations will try to do it for us. There’s no better people to tell our story than those who get their hands dirty and make farming work.”

Continue to check back to the blog each Thursday to get to know more farmers and ranchers from across Nebraska as they share their everyday stories. And to read past farmer and rancher profiles, click here.

Learn more about ag families in Nebraska by visiting www.nefb.org. And while there, be sure to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Meet Your Nebraska Farmer and Rancher: Justin Roberts

Cattle producer Justin Roberts of North Platte grew up on his family’s farm near Minot, N.D., where his family grew wheat, flax, barley and oats. Sixty years ago, he moved to Nebraska – for a teaching career. But he didn’t leave his love for agriculture behind.

Justin Roberts (left) was among Lincoln County Farm Bureau leaders who helped the county achieve Livestock Friendly County status in August 2008.

Justin met his wife Mary when both were students at Minot State College. Both earned degrees in education. They married and moved to North Platte, Neb., because both were offered teaching positions in their specialties – Mary in elementary education and Justin at the junior high level where he taught geography and social studies and also did some coaching.

Justin later earned a degree in educational administration from the University of Wyoming. He became an assistant principal at North Platte High School in 1969 and was the principal of Adams Junior High when he left the school system in 1979.

He took his educational expertise to a new position with what is now Region II of Nebraska’s Health and Human Services agency, working in alcohol and drug prevention and intervention programs in 17 counties until retiring in 2005. He set up new programs, worked with high school students and counseled prisoners on avoiding drugs and alcohol after release. Beginning in the 1980s and continuing today, he co-teaches classes on preventing and ending domestic violence.

At the Nebraska Farm Bureau Policy Issues Orientation in Kearney Aug. 17, Justin Roberts (right) waited to hear more information on Health Care Exchanges and the costs they may have for state governments.

Since moving to Nebraska, Justin had helped cattle producers in the North Platte area work their cattle and he still does. In 1991, he and Mary bought a small acreage where they put up some hay and ran 25 cows and calves.

During the last Nebraska drought six or seven years ago when prices for cattle were high and his hay production was low, Justin sold some older cows and is down to eight head today. He also cares for 15 cow-calf pairs for a distant neighbor, and he and another neighbor help each other out: “I help him rake his hay and he bales mine for me,” he explains. Justin also helps a different neighbor with branding and vaccinating calves and herding the cattle to pasture 15 miles away.

Justin and Mary have three children. Son Matt and his wife Tracy both work in the corporate office at Cabela’s in Sidney. Daughter Meghan, who’s been paralyzed since birth, formerly worked at Cabela’s and is now preparing for a job in a grocery store, learning to use a new wheel chair that raises and lowers. Daughter Amy Klinkafus lives in Lincoln and has one son.

Some years ago – he’s forgotten how many – Justin joined Farm Bureau after persistent urging from another neighbor – who later convinced him he should serve as Lincoln County Farm Bureau president.

Justin Roberts takes a Learning Barn like this one to schools in North Platte and Brady.

Justin’s educational background is apparent in his favorite Farm Bureau projects: he takes the Agriculture in the Classroom mobile Learning Barn to classrooms in North Platte and Brady. He’s proud of the college scholarships Lincoln County Farm Bureau has established, and he’s excited that there’s a concerted effort to form an FFA chapter at North Platte High School again.

He’d like the general public to know more about what farmers and ranchers do. “People don’t know anything about agriculture. For those who are involved in agriculture, it’s really important to put that message out about how agriculture operates. And it would be my hope that people who aren’t involved would do some things to educate themselves and find out where their food comes from.”

Continue to check back to the blog each Thursday to get to know more farmers and ranchers from across Nebraska as they share their everyday stories. And to read past farmer and rancher profiles, click here.

Learn more about ag families in Nebraska by visiting www.nefb.org. And while there, be sure to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Get to know your Nebraska farmer: David Grimes

Farming skipped a generation in David Grimes’ family:  Both sets of his grandparents farmed, but his father contracted polio as a teenager and couldn’t do the physical labor. Dad moved from Cheyenne County to Lincoln, worked for the former Production Credit Association and married David’s Mom.

David got his first hands-on experience in farming as a member of FFA at Lincoln Northeast High School, which had farm ground a few miles from the school during the early ’70s. He worked on his friends’ family farms north of Lincoln during the summer and eventually rented ground from his Dad, who’d bought some farmland as an investment, and other landlords. David farmed while going to UNL, where he majored in ag econ and graduated in 1980.

Today David has 1,500 acres of corn and soybeans north of Lincoln and youngest son Matthew, 16, has hay and a small cow herd. David’s wife Becky is a physician’s assistant. Oldest son Mark is a law student at UNL, soon to be married to Megan Blume, and middle son Nathan has just graduated from high school and will study diversified agriculture at Southeast Community College in Beatrice. Their daughter, Elizabeth, is a spring UNL grad and will teach bilingual education for second graders in La Joya, Texas.

As a leader in Lancaster County Farm Bureau, David enjoys working on public policy issues and participating in events that connect farmers and consumers, such as Prairieland Dairy Days and the county fair.

He also works to help farmers in developing countries, through the Raymond United Methodist Church and Food Resource Bank, a Christian mission project. David and other volunteers are doing the field work on a small donated field, using seed and other inputs contributed by the local farmers cooperative and other businesses. They’ll sell the crop and send the proceeds to Food Resource Bank, to assist farmers in Colombia. David’s been involved in previous projects that helped farmers in Zambia and Ghana as well. He says, “I like helping people to feed themselves and have a little extra to sell and help their families.”

Continue to check back to the blog each Thursday to get to know more farmers and ranchers from across Nebraska as they share their everyday stories. And to read past farmer and rancher profiles, click here.

Learn more about ag families in Nebraska by visiting www.nefb.org. And while there, be sure to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.