I hope that Nebraskans express their appreciation for the livestock industry on March 20th (now proclaimed Meat on the Menu day by Governor Pete Ricketts) by visiting their local meat counter and purchasing their favorite cuts (whether beef, pork, lamb, or chicken). I hope that we buy enough meat on that day to show the rest of the world how much we value our livestock producers in our state!
Agriculture is Nebraska's top economic industry, with cattle production representing the ag industry's largest segment. With roughly 6.85 million head of cows and calves in the state, our estimated 1.93 million people are vastly outnumbered. It is estimated that 76,600 jobs are directly or indirectly associated with animal ag in Nebraska.
So what does all that mean, and why should you care? It means that the largest sector of the most significant economic industry in Nebraska directly affects one out of every four people, without even factoring in the indirect impacts (such as clothing retailers, grocery stores, etc). You more than likely know a large percentage of people who would be affected if the livestock industry took a significant hit. And maybe, more folks than you would think would be affected!
It doesn't take long in a conversation around here to realize the direct impact our local ranchers have on our community. Stop in and talk "shop" with local businesses, and they KNOW how the markets are doing, without even being directly involved. Ranchers are historically a conservative group, purchasing commodities when prices are high and holding back when prices are low. When prices are reasonable, the community directly benefits from their purchases, whether buying extra groceries or a new pickup. They donate to their local youth organizations through serving on boards, livestock premium auctions, or the FFA Labor Auctions. When a tragedy strikes, you better believe that the local ranchers will be lined up with their heavy equipment (tractors, skid loaders, trailers, hay, fencing supplies, and more) to make sure their neighbors (I use this term rather broadly) have what they need to get through.
I hope you all take a moment to purchase meat on March 20th, even if you don't need it, to show your support for the state's farmers and ranchers. You know that if the tables were turned, and you needed support, they'd be there for you!