April 18, 2014

Gov. Heineman says it’s hard to determine impact of drought (AUDIO)

Gov. Dave Heineman

Gov. Dave Heineman says it is hard to determine how the drought will impact the state economy.

Heineman says he has heard more positive than negative when talking with farmers.

“Yields are a little higher than people anticipated. We were fortunate that we are the most irrigated state in America, so that has helped. Corp insurance is going to help,” Heineman says. “The biggest challenge, I think, is in the livestock area where input costs are up, because of the high price of corn and soybeans.”

The USDA has cut its corn production estimate, again. The USDA’s October 1st estimate has been revised downward to 10.7 billion bushels, 21 million below the September number. The soybean crop is projected to total 2.8 billion bushels, which would reflect a soybean crop 196 million bushels below last year.

The USDA projects the Nebraska corn crop to be 1.2999 billion bushels, well below the 1.536 billion bushels harvested last year. The Nebraska soybean crop is expected to be 202.95 million bushels, compared to 261.36 million in 2011.

Heineman says farmers remain upbeat, despite the hot, dry summer.

“I will say anecdotally and talking to farmers and ranchers all across the state like I have been doing, it’s a positive attitude out there,” according to Heineman. “They prepared. They always assume there are going to be one in four or five or six years where they’ll have a drought and I think they have adjusted admirably in that regard.”

The governor says the big worry is whether the drought extends beyond this year.

“If it goes into next year and we have a drought there’s no doubt in my mind we’re going to have tension, as I’ve said, for water resources among agriculture and cities,” Heineman states. “That’s why we hope there’s a lot of snow this winter. We could still use additional moisture even as this late stage. But, it’s next year’s concern and the year after that I think is the greater issue relative to the drought.”

AUDIO: Gov. Heineman discusses the impact of the drought on the state economy. [1:35]