The Largest Agriculture District in America

The economy, culture, and values of rural America are largely shaped by agriculture.  This is especially true of Nebraska’s Third Congressional District.  We are incredibly grateful for the contributions and innovations of our ag producers which not only fuel our economy, but feed the world. 

A new report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) now confirms the Third District is the largest agriculture district in America based on total value of products sold.  We are the second largest district in value of livestock and poultry, and the third in value of crops.

Because of the incredible success of our agriculture producers, it is more important now than ever for federal policy to support their efforts rather than undermine them.  Implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill is an important step in this process, which will provide farmers with a choice of a price or revenue-based assistance if there is a loss. 

The new Farm Bill eliminates direct payments, counter-cyclical payments and the ACRE program.  In their place, three programs were created for covered commodities or program crops: Agriculture Risk Coverage, County Option (ARC-CO), Agriculture Risk Coverage, Individual Farm Coverage (ARC-IC), and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) with the option to buy the Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) on insurance. 

Farmers will be able to visit their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices to learn more about these tools and make the best decision for their operation.  Producers will have through early spring of 2015 to select a program.

The new Farm Bill increased funding for outreach to the next generation of producers, including beginning farmers and veterans.  This concept is not new in the State of Nebraska, which has been recognized nationally for its success in recruiting beginning farmers and ranchers.  Recently I had the opportunity to visit a veteran participating in the “Homegrown by Heroes” marketing program which has helped start and grow a business in the heart of the Third District.  Additionally, the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture offers initiatives like the “100-cow” program for beginning farmers and the “Combat Boots to Cowboy Boots” program for veterans.  These are great examples of innovative ways to get young people involved in farming and support those who have served our country in uniform.    

As we continue to look for ways to expand production at home it is also important to open new markets for our products abroad.  We are producing an abundance of affordable, nutritious food which could help feed people around the world while befitting our consumers at home.  The Third District is currently the fifth largest exporter of agricultural goods.

With the continued success of agriculture, we must remain vigilant and responsive to the needs of producers to foster their continued growth.  Smart policy and continued innovation will help feed the world, and producers and rural America to thrive.