Determination that let homesteaders thrive survives in modern agriculture

Thursday, March 22, 2018

To outsiders, Nebraska can be something to be endured, rolling through the flattest part of the state on Interstate 80, peering out of a window when momentarily awakened during an early-morning Amtrak stop, or pondering the purpose of all those circles on the patchwork quilt observed from 38,000 feet.

Even those of us who live here and love the state can become blind to the miracle that is playing itself out on the rolling prairies that surround us.

Day after day, month after month, year after year, producers are turning seemingly sparse resources into valuable commodities to feed the world and support their families and communities.

Sunshine, land and water ó from rare rain and carefully shepherded river flows and pumped Ogallala Aquifer groundwater ó provide whatís needed to turn a few kernels of corn or soybeans into bountiful harvests.

Domestic cattle and swine have, for the most part, replaced the millions of bison that once roamed the plain, but an abundance of grass and grain place the state at or near the top when it comes to the production of red meat, with major growth on the horizon for poultry.

One only has to read the menu at a family restaurant to see the fruits of Nebraska farmersí efforts.

Eggs, dairy products, wheat, sugar beets, sorghum, dry edible beans and potatoes are all major products for the state, but recent innovations have increased production of crops such as table vegetables.

When the workday is done, itís easy to enjoy popcorn produced in the Cornhusker state, washed down with a Nebraska wine or craft beer.

As we celebrate National Agriculture Week, we recognize that the industry is facing the usual cyclical challenges of lower prices for commodities as well as unusual threats such as disruption of foreign trade.

But the same spirit that enabled homesteaders to eke out a living the expansive plains will enable agriculture to adapt and thrive.

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