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Potential COVID-19 Nebraska ag losses pegged at $3.7 billion
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Potential COVID-19 Nebraska ag losses pegged at $3.7 billion

From the Milestones in Lincoln and Nebraska's coronavirus fight series
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Nebraska could suffer nearly $3.7 billion in agricultural income losses this year due to the coronavirus if economic conditions do not improve, the Nebraska Farm Bureau estimated Wednesday.

The analysis is based on a "snapshot" view of revenue losses projected for 2020 commodities, including corn, soybeans, wheat, beef cattle and pork production, as well as dairy and ethanol products.

It was not presented as a forecast during a virtual news conference, but rather as a view of the ongoing potential impact of the pandemic and its economic repercussions on the state's agricultural economy.

"To provide some perspective, $3.7 billion is more than 80% of the state of Nebraska's entire budget," Jay Rempe, the Nebraska Farm Bureau's senior economist, said in presenting the report.

"While the analysis does not account for any financial assistance farmers and ranchers may receive through state and federal COVID-19 relief programs, it clearly demonstrates the magnitude of the financial challenges currently facing farm and ranch families," he said.

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And that impact could be felt "across the broader rural economy," Rempe said.

"Farmers and ranchers are really struggling," Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson said.

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The analysis pegs potential estimated losses in the beef cattle sector at nearly $1 billion in 2020.

Potential corn and soybean losses were estimated at $1.17 billion.

Potential losses in the ethanol sector could reach $1.3 billion, assuming that ethanol plants are unable to operate at more than 75% of capacity for the remainder of the year.

Other potential losses: pork, $166 million; dairy, $66 million; wheat, $8.7 million.

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"This analysis clearly shows how damaging COVID-19 has been to our agricultural economy and what we could be facing moving forward," Nelson said. 

"We greatly appreciate the fact that our elected leaders have understood the importance and need for financial assistance programs so farmers and ranchers can continue to ensure the food supply for the people of our state, our country and the world."

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSdon

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