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Dairy industry provides big contribution to rural economies


Nebraska's dairy industry produced about 1 billion pounds of milk last year, and in the process it helped drive the economy in many rural communities through employment, taxes, purchasing feed and equipment and more.

"The state's dairy receipts totaled about $200 million last year, but when you figure in the impact that reverberates through the economy based on those dollars, the true economic impact is in the neighborhood of $500 million," said Randy Klein of the Nebraska Corn Board.

Klein noted that for each 75 cows a dairy has, it directly employs one person. That means a 300-head dairy would employ about four people. A 1,200 cow dairy would employ about 16 people. "Really, employment goes well beyond the dairy farm because a dairy needs feed, veterinary care, equipment, trucking, milk processing and more. Dairies are incredible at boosting rural economies," Klein said.

An average cow consumes about $1,000 in feed each year, which means Nebraska's 58,000 dairy cattle consume about $58 million in feed. "A portion of that feed is corn and distillers grains, the corn ethanol feed product," said Mark Jagels, a member of the Nebraska Corn Board and a farmer from Davenport. "Dairies add a lot of value to those products and many others, and it would be great to see Nebraska's dairy industry strengthen and grow."

One way the Nebraska Corn Board supports the dairy industry is by backing the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska, or A-FAN. When farmers are looking to expand or add a livestock operation, A-FAN can help by providing guidance.

Over the last year, however, A-FAN has produced a series of videos that highlight agriculture in Nebraska, including several that pertain specifically to the dairy industry.

Dairy-focused videos take viewers on a tour through a modern dairy and examine issues like cow care, food safety, how a dairy recycles its water, the economic impact of a dairy and other relevant subjects that viewers may find fascinating.

"These videos offer a tremendous insight into dairy farms, and some even include the reaction by people who had never been on a large dairy before," Jagels said. "I'd encourage anyone to go to A-FAN's website and take a look at these videos and all the other videos A-FAN has posted."

The videos are available at www.a-fan.org or through A-FAN's YouTube channel at www.YouTube.com/NebraskaAgriculture.

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