Nebraska hosts a unique mix of industries – all of which contribute greatly to the local and statewide economy. Twelve industries have a notable presence in the state. According to the Department of Economic Development, Nebraska’s major industry clusters include biosolutions, transportation logistics, software and technology, finance and insurance, R&D and engineering, tourism, health care, renewable energy and manufacturing.
But Nebraska’s diverse market is made possible in large part by one particular industry – agriculture and agribusiness. The Nebraska Department of Agriculture notes that farm marketings contribute approximately $23 billion to the state economy. A remarkable 92 percent (45.3 million acres) of Nebraska’s total land area is used for farming or livestock production. The state supports around 49,000 farms and ranches, with the average operation being around 920 acres.
Leading commodities produced in Nebraska include corn, cattle, soybeans, hogs, wheat, dairy products, eggs, hay, dry beans and sugar beets. Nebraska is the nation’s leader in beef and veal exports; commercial red meat production; commercial cattle processing; Great Northern beans production; all cattle on feed; and popcorn production.
Livestock and poultry account for roughly half of the total agricultural cash receipts in Nebraska. It is said that one in every five steaks and hamburgers consumed in the U.S. is produced in Nebraska, which produces more beef per square mile than any other state.
Corn is also a major player in the Nebraska economy. More than 1.5 billion bushels of corn are produced each year here. Of that, nearly a third of the state’s corn is used for ethanol production. In 2015, Nebraska ranked second in the nation in ethanol production capacity with 25 operating ethanol facilities.
Agriculture has a hand in supporting various other state industries, as well. Nebraska’s $6.4 billion in agricultural exports in 2015 stimulated an estimated $7.8 billion in additional economic activity.
Meanwhile, seven of Nebraska’s ag cooperatives are currently ranked among the very largest in the country, according to data from the National Cooperative Bank.