Celebrating Nebraska Agriculture
All across America, producers, consumers, and educators are participating in National Ag Week from March 16th-21st. Here in Nebraska, the celebration recognizes many faces within our number one industry. Whether it’s a farm family’s decades-long success or the creativity of future ag leaders, those who contribute to agriculture in Nebraska come from many backgrounds.
During National Ag Week, I’m working with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to promote the ag industry, which contributes up to $23 billion dollars annually to Nebraska’s economy. On Monday, I visited Omaha, Broken Bow, North Platte, and Seward to recognize the success of our state’s many agribusinesses. Nebraska’s Ag Director Greg Ibach, Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson, and chair of the Legislature’s Agriculture Committee, Senator Jerry Johnson, joined me on the tour.
This month, I have teamed up with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to publish its annual magazine, “Nebraska Agriculture and You.” This issue includes success stories from Nebraska’s poultry, honey, popcorn, and potato businesses. The magazine’s 2015 “featured family” highlights a dairy farm in northeast Nebraska, which spans 44 years and 2 generations. Mike and Joy Malena share ownership of their operation, near Leigh, with their 3 grown children and their children’s spouses. The family produces and sells 120,000 pounds of milk, per day, and also farms more than 2,000 acres of corn and alfalfa. The Malena Family’s story exemplifies the pride, loyalty, and hard work many Nebraskans can relate to when sharing the success of an agribusiness with a new generation. Readers may request magazines by calling 800-422-6692. A digital copy of the magazine is also available on the NE Dept. of Ag website, at www.nda.nebraska.gov.
National Ag Week also celebrates some of our state’s youngest ag visionaries, with a Nebraska Department of Agriculture-sponsored poster contest. This year, Nebraska’s elementary-aged students portrayed “a day on the farm” in their drawings, and I am honored to help judge the contest.
Keeping our youth inspired and informed about agriculture starts with education. Members of Nebraska’s Agricultural Youth Council (NAYC) are college-age students who advocate agriculture on behalf of our state’s youngest residents. NAYC members promote the industry to elementary students, and also introduce high school juniors and seniors to ag-related leaders and programs, through the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute (NAYI). A few weeks ago, both groups participated in their first-ever “Youth in Agriculture” meeting at my Governor’s Ag Conference in Kearney. Close to 100 students met, and more joined via the internet, to hear stories from several recent college graduates, now working within Nebraska’s ag industry. NAYC Counselors Trent Mastny and Johnny Ference moderated the event, and hope to return to their home communities to work in agriculture. Both are great examples of up-and-coming talent within our state. After graduation, Trent plans on gaining outside agribusiness experience to help his family farm in Howells, and Johnny is already working to establish his own seed corn and agronomy services business in Ord.
I’ve long said that Nebraska’s number one resource is our people. Preparing our next generation of ag leaders is more important than ever, to keep Nebraska growing so we can continue to feed the world. As your Governor, I am proud of our state’s top industry and efforts by young Nebraskans to promote agriculture. We must also take time to thank our state’s many ag producers, who are working every day to Grow Nebraska.
As agriculture continues to grow, my administration welcomes new ideas from each and every one of you across our great state.
As always, you are welcome to contact my office at (402) 471-2244, or by email, at firstname.lastname@example.org.