Tariff Threats No Longer Just Bluster

Economic Tidbits 12.18.17

Last week marked a new extreme in the trade tensions between the U.S. and China as President Trump moved forward with tariffs on $34 billion of imported Chinese machinery, auto parts, and medical devices.  China responded immediately with tariffs on several U.S. products including soybeans and pork.  Several U.S. trading partners have now imposed tariffs on U.S. commodities and processed foods in response to tariffs imposed by the U.S.  With all the threats and tariffs imposed, it’s difficult to stay abreast of where things now stand.  Table 1 summarizes recent tariffs enacted by other countries on U.S. agricultural products which will affect Nebraska.  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

2016 Farm Program Payments . . .

Economic Tidbits 12.18.17

Nebraska crop producers received $646 million in Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agriculture Risk Coverage—County (ARC-CO) payments last fall for the 2016 crop year.  In total, the USDA distributed $6.9 billion in payments to participating producers under these two programs.

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.

Farmers talk about how many acres of land their farm, how big is an acre?

We had another great question come in to the blog from a reader:

Farmers talk about how many acres of land their farm, how big is an acre?

An acre is about the size of a football field.

One acre of land can produce many different types of crops, depending on the fertility and type of soil, how much rain falls and how much the sun shines.

For example:

Wheat: 2,784 pounds (46.4 bushels)

One bushel of wheat produces about 42 pounds of flour, which can be used to make 42 loaves of bread or 42 pounds of traditional pasta. One bushel of whole wheat yields even more: pounds of flour to make 64 loaves of bread or 64 pounds of pasta.

– American Farm Bureau Federation’s “Food and Farm Facts”

Keep asking great questions! Our Nebraska farmers and ranchers look forward to explaining what they do every day to produce safe food for you and your family.

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 Farmers and Ranchers: Duane and Rosie Sugden

Duane and Rosie Sugden.

Tecumseh farm girl Rosie Wilhelm graduated from Lincoln School of Commerce and got a job in Lincoln so she wouldn’t end up marrying a farmer. That plan went out the window when she met Duane Sugden.

Rosie and her girlfriends were cruising around Tecumseh when they met Duane and his friends driving around in Duane’s new ’62 Chevy and the couple started dating.

Rosie, who’s known as a talker, remembers, “Duane said he dated me because he wouldn’t have to worry what to talk about.” He was rather shy in those days. Rosie would fill in any gaps in the conversation, and still does. They’ve now been married 48 years.

Duane’s family farmed near Adams, but he was working as a hired man when he met Rosie; none of either family’s land was available to the young couple. Rosie continued her job in Lincoln at a real estate insurance firm until they became parents.

In 1969, they were able to buy land from an estate because the executor was willing to work with the young couple to get them started in farming – even though the land could have been sold to someone else for more and with less effort.

They’ve now been farming for 42 years, three miles northeast of Sterling in southeast Nebraska. They own over 700 acres on five different farms, spread out from Sterling to Tecumseh, and rent another quarter. They grow corn, soybeans, wheat and grain sorghum and have prairie hay and a little ground in the Conservation Reserve Program, along with a small stock cow herd.

In the mid-’70s, the Sugdens were among the first in their area to install a center pivot irrigation system, a Valley water-drive. Four of their farms are irrigated, three with pivots and one with flood irrigation.

Duane and Rosie had a farrow-to-finish hog operation until the 1990s. They were also among the first farmers to build a confinement building for the hogs they finished in the ’70s.  At that time, most hogs were finished outdoors, without the benefits of climate control. “The hogs kept the cash flow going, but it was a lot of work,” Rosie remembers.

Ryan Etheridge, Tim Sugden, Alex Etheridge, Duane Sugden, Rosie Sugden, Christi and Jeff Etheridge.

The Sugdens have two children. Son Tim lives on an acreage near them and they’re helping him get into farming on his own. They bought one of their farms jointly with Tim and he will eventually buy their share.  He does the family’s farming at Tecumseh and also works full-time as an auto mechanic at Brinkman’s in Tecumseh.

Their daughter Christi is married to Jeff Etheridge. They live in Waverly and Christi commutes to her job in nearby Lincoln at Associated Anesthesiologists, PC. Jeff drives a little farther, to his job in Omaha where he is a train dispatcher for Union Pacific. The Etheridges have two sons: Ryan, 11, and Alex, 8.

Duane and Rosie’s grandsons Alex, 8, and Ryan, 11.

Both Duane and Rosie have been president of Johnson County Farm Bureau. Rosie’s father and brother also were county presidents, so Farm Bureau is a family tradition. Today Rosie is Johnson County Farm Bureau’s PKR – Person Keeping Records. It’s like being an office secretary without the office. Part of the job is reminding the county president what to do – the current county president being Duane, who is serving another term. Their son Tim is also on the board of directors.

Duane is a past member of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Board of Directors and served on many committees; he’s also a director of the Nemaha Natural Resources District and a director on the Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board. Rosie has served on Farm Bureau’s Credentials, Nominating and Membership Committees, and is currently serving on the Johnson County Farm Service Agency board. They’re active members of Immanuel Lutheran Church near Sterling.

And for the past many years, they’ve been Ag Pen Pals with a city classroom, exchanging letters with the children and explaining what they do on the farm and why. For the last several, they’ve been paired with Nancy Dondlinger and her students at Maxey Elementary School in Lincoln. They enjoy their relationship with Nancy and are able to visit her classroom and attend their annual Ag Fair. The Sugdens provide grain and plants for the students to display at their fair.

The Sugdens explain to the children that farmers do everything they can to conserve water and are careful to apply only the amount of chemicals and fertilizer the crops need. “They do the best job they can to create the product that they sell,” Rosie says.

“I think sometimes consumers forget where their food comes from and that the price they pay isn’t what the farmer receives,” she adds. “A lot of the cost of food goes for processing, transportation and other things that make jobs for people in towns and cities.”

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.