Gov. Pete Ricketts has announced he plans a state fly-around next week in celebration of National Ag Week.
Ricketts, State Agriculture Director Greg Ibach, legislative Agriculture Committee Chairman Sen. Jerry Johnson of Wahoo, as well as representatives of agricultural groups will travel to four Nebraska cities on the 14th.
“The purpose of the fly around is to celebrate agriculture with National Ag Week and also talk about the important issues that we need to address with regard to agriculture: property taxes, trade, the infrastructure bank,” Ricketts tells reporters during a news conference at the Capitol. “Those are things that are going to help us grow our agriculture economy, but also, again, in a state where 25% of our economy is linked to agriculture, if we’re going to grow Nebraska, we have to grow agriculture.”
The group will fly to Hastings, McCook, Falls City, and Omaha.
Nebraska ranks first among the states in cattle on feed, second in ethanol production, third in corn production, fourth in overall agricultural receipts, and fifth in agricultural exports.
State Agriculture Director Greg Ibach says Nebraska residents have been given a great example of the importance of agriculture on the state economy.
“When we had the economic downturn in 2008, Nebraska weathered that storm much easier than a lot of the other states around us,” Ibach says, noting that only North Dakota with its oil boom did better in wake of the recession. “And so that made citizens aware at that time that there was something different and recognized that agriculture was involved.”
Conversely, the state is now feeling the pinch of a downturn in agriculture. Commodity prices from fallen, farm income is down, and so is the state budget.
Gov. Ricketts says he hopes the fly around will reinforce just how important agriculture is to jobs in Nebraska, even jobs in Omaha and Lincoln.