Nebraska maintains 96 percent of its total land area with farms and ranches. Nebraska farm products contribute approximately $9.5 billion in cash receipts to the U.S. economy annually. Agriculture is Nebraska’s primary source of wealth and its dominant industry. Estimates reveal one-half of Nebraska’s work force depends on agriculture and related industries for employment. Nebraska is a local producer but a world provider, which means the international marketplace plays a vital role in the state’s agricultural marketing efforts. Nebraska is a leader in agricultural exports ranking fifth nationally. While large agribusinesses have been selling products on the world market for years, now many individual producers and local elevators are selling direct to international niché markets.
Getting Nebraska’s abundant production to domestic and world markets is made possible by a vast transportation infrastructure. Nebraska is served by rail, ground, air, and water transportation making it possible and practical to ship anywhere in the world. In 2009, Nebraska’s agricultural products were exported to 109 different countries around the world. Sending Nebraska’s agricultural products around the globe benefits Nebraska right here at home. Every dollar in agriculture exports generates $1.40 in economic activities such as transportation, warehousing, and production. Nebraska’s $5.9 billion in the state in agricultural exports in 2009 translated into $8.3 billion in additional economic activity in the state.
Cattle production is the state’s largest industry and the primary economic source for its residents. Nebraska produces one of every five steaks and hamburgers made in the United States. With over 20,000 beef cow operations, the state produces more beef per square mile than any other state. Nebraska is located in the heart of beef country where there is a unique mix of natural resources. Cattle are raised on 24 million acres of rich pasture, and supported by an abundant supply of fresh water and ample sunshine. Over 1 billion bushels of corn are produced in Nebraska each year, 40% of which is used for feeding of the state’s livestock, thus contributing to the excellent nutrition and health of Nebraska cattle. Many families make their living from the land, which provides them a strong incentive to protect their animals and the environment to the fullest.