Good news for farm economy

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

On back-to-back days, the people of Nebraska and rural America have received good news about the economy. First came the news Monday that net tax receipts in Nebraska are up for the fourth straight month. In the most recent month, October, the state collected $17 million more than projected. That was a striking 10 percent more than estimated receipts.

Then, Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that cash farm income will climb by 13 percent to $77.5 billion this year. That will be the highest total ever.

In its announcement, the USDA said the surge in farm income is due to high crop and livestock prices and record corn, cotton and soybean harvests.

Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman called the news of the farm income surge "astonishing," and she's right on the mark. Just three months ago, after a wheat crop that fell below expectations in this area, there were widespread concerns about the strength of the ag recovery.

But the corn crop is turning out better than expected and the other segments of the farm economy are continuing on pace.

Even so, it's not a bed of roses for farmers. As always. ag producers are at the mercy of weather and prices, and each day brings new concerns.

Still, the economic situation is better than usual, with this year's forecast is 50 percent better than the average for the past 10 years.

How quickly things can change. The downturn after 9-11, three short years ago, is still fresh in our minds. The aftermath forced drastic cutbacks in Nebraska state government, and it has taken the better part of those three years to get back to an even keel economically.

We are encouraged by the economic improvement, but -- from past experiences -- we have learned to be prudent as well as positive as we go forward into the future.

Locker Room Project -- For years, McCook has been in need of additional restrooms and better locker room facilities at Weiland Field. Therefore, it's good to see that the McCook Board of Education and Activities Director Rick Haney are moving in that direction.

And, the good thing is, it appears much of the money for the improvement will come from private donations. Thirty thousand dollars have already been pledged, putting the school well on the way towards the goal.

Having seen the success of the locker project at the high school gym, we're confident of the school's success on this project, too. Bison spirit is good for the entire community. The Weiland Field locker room project will provide further proof of that.

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