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Nebraska estimates COVID ag losses

Nebraska estimates COVID ag losses

The state’s ag economy could lose nearly $4 billion, the Nebraska Farm Bureau says

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

The COVID-19 pandemic could cost Nebraska’s ag economy billions of dollars the state’s Farm Bureau says.

If economic conditions don’t improve and the pandemic continues to hurt the state’s ag sector, losses could be as high as $3.7 billion, the organization said in an industry update snapshot on June 10.

“To provide some perspective, $3.7 billion is more than 80 percent of the state of Nebraska’s entire budget,” said Jay Rempe, the organization’s senior economist, in a recent report.

Rempe authored the report, “COVID-19 and Nebraska Agriculture Potential Estimated Losses,” which offers insights into the parts of the industry that could experience the highest losses if conditions remain the same.

Rempe, for example, estimated the total losses for corn and soybeans around $1.17 billion, beef cattle at $971 million and pork at $166.5 million.

The figures in Rempe’s report, however, don’t account for the government assistance programs aimed to help farmers through these challenging times.

Other organizations are estimating potential ag losses too.

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) staff project an average revenue decline of US$59 per acre for the 2019 corn crop and a $89 per acre loss on the 2020 corn crop.

In the first two months of 2020, before the pandemic started, corn prices sat around $3.79 per bushel.

“Since the beginning of March, prices have fallen, reaching levels below $3 at the end of April,” Gary Schnitkey, an ag economist from the University of Illinois, wrote in the NCGA’s report. “In the first week of June, cash corn prices in central Illinois have been between $3 and $3.10 per bushel.”

Farms.com has reached out to government officials and ag economists for comment.

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