Governor Dave Heineman says the State Fair plays an important role in reminding Nebraskans about the importance of agriculture to the state.
Heineman says more than a quarter of the state economy depends on agriculture.
“As I’ve said before, more and more Nebraskans are a generation or two removed from the farm or ranch. So, these types of experiences are increasingly important,” Heineman says.
A new exhibit at the State Fair attempts to fill in the gap for consumers who don’t have that direct knowledge of the farm.
The Raising Nebraska exhibit in the Nebraska Building features 25,000 square feet of interactive displays which answer questions from consumers and demonstrate how the raw products of the farm and the feedlot become food for the kitchen table or gas for the car.
The University of Nebraska, the Department of Agriculture, commodity groups, and agribusinesses sponsor the Raising Nebraska exhibit.
Even as consumers learn more about the importance of agriculture, state officials are working to expand the agricultural economy.
They recently entertained English and German business executives who are considering increasing their purchase of Nebraska beef and other products.
State Agriculture Director Greg Ibach says one English customer first visited Nebraska five years ago, after receiving Nebraska beef for his London restaurant, Goodman. He returns annually with members of his staff to buy even more Nebraska beef.
“That’s just part of the ongoing good story of what’s going on across the world, but specifically in Europe where we’ve seen our exports to Europe have grown over 200% in the last five years,” according to Ibach. “So, we’re really excited about the opportunities that communicating with customers around the world provide.”
State officials say Nebraska beef exports to Europe have grown from $41 million in 2009 to more than $132 million last year.
Ibach says the state livestock industry also has seen expansion in the swine and dairy industries. Crop production in corn, soybean, dried beans, and sugar beets continue to grow.