Extension initiative aims to strengthen ag economy

Extension initiative aims to strengthen ag economy
#StrongNebAg launched in part to find hidden cost savings, income potential

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Through the Strengthening Nebraska’s Agricultural Economy initiative Nebraska Extension specialists and educators from multiple disciplines are sharing researched-based information to help producers reduce input costs, increase efficiencies and improve profitability of farm and livestock operations.

Low commodity prices paired with high costs of doing business have crop and livestock producers operating in a low profit-environment. To help manage operations during this challenging time, Nebraska Extension has launched a new initiative called Strengthening Nebraska’s Agricultural Economy.

The state department of agriculture estimates one in four jobs in the state is related to agriculture. In addition, Nebraska’s farms and ranches utilize over 90 percent of the state’s total land area.

“We understand the importance of the agricultural economy to Nebraska, so we’ve created this initiative to help navigate this challenging time,” said Rick Rasby, associate dean of Nebraska Extension. “It’s about putting tools into the hands of producers to help them make critical decisions when faced with low commodity prices and high-input costs.”

Through the initiative, Nebraska Extension specialists and educators from multiple disciplines are sharing research-based information to help producers reduce input costs, increase efficiencies and improve profitability of farm and livestock operations.

To finance day-to-day operating needs such as feed, fuel, labor, seed, fertilizer and other essential ag inputs, many producers rely on annual operating notes, which can be challenging to obtain in this economy. As part of the initiative, Nebraska Extension’s CropWatch website features information for producers preparing for their renewal appointment with their lender. Costs for the coming year, a reasonable cash flow and spending for family living are all estimates that producers should be prepared to cover during their renewal appointment.

Other CropWatch articles, which will be shared in coming months, feature options for changing crop production or farm management practices to find hidden cost savings or income potential.

Analyzing inputs against the value of production can improve profit potential. Through the Strengthening Nebraska’s Agricultural Economy initiative, beef experts from Nebraska Extension have compiled a series of beef profit tips that outline management strategies for producers to consider that influence input costs. One of those tips is to purchase protein supplements after comparing options on a cost per pound of protein basis.

“The objective of a good supplementation program should be to supply the required amount of protein rather than a specific amount of supplement. Therefore, when choosing among various supplements, a good strategy is to calculate the cost of each supplement on a cost per pound of crude protein, then purchase in the most economical way,” Nebraska Extension Educator Aaron Berger said.

Many of the topics within the initiative have been featured in the Farm Financial Management webinar series by Nebraska Extension, the Department of Agricultural Economics at Nebraska and the state's department of agriculture. The webinars focused on economic outlook, cost control, negotiating a lease, communicating with ag bankers and decision-making in an uncertain world. Those webinars are available here.

There are a variety of places producers can find resources provided through this initiative. Educational materials will be featured on the Nebraska Extension CropWatch website and the beef site. Additional interviews will be provided through Ag Almanac radio and Market Journal. Producers can find information related to the initiative on Twitter at #StrongNebAg.

Despite today’s economic challenges, those at Nebraska Extension don't want producers to feel discouraged.

“Cattle and crop cycles aren’t new to the industry," Rasby said. "We just came off higher-than-ever commodity prices and now that they’re lower, producers should know that Nebraska Extension is here to support them."