For one thing, a booming ag industry means that agricultural manufacturers will be busier than ever. Because of our long agricultural tradition, Nebraska’s history is filled with innovation designed to improve efficiency and productivity on farms. From feed and seed machinery to corn husking hooks to siphons and irrigation products, it’s worth taking a peek at this Made in Nebraska Exhibit from the Nebraska Historical Society to see the ways in which agricultural manufacturers have transformed the industry.
This week, from March 13-19, 2016, we’re joining in the celebration of National Agriculture Week, which was kicked off by Governor Pete Ricketts at Prairie Loft on Monday morning. “One of the things we want to emphasize from the Department of Ag standpoint is while we’re celebrating farmers and ranchers, because of the interconnectedness of our agriculture industry to the rest of our economy in Nebraska, it’s really an opportunity to celebrate all jobs in Nebraska because there are so many of them that are tied to the agriculture industry,” Nebraska Agriculture Director Greg Ibach told the Hastings Tribune.
This sentiment certainly rings true for manufacturing, where many jobs are tied to the agriculture industry. Take, for example, Orthman Manufacturing, located in southeast Lexington. Since the 1960s, the company has been pioneering inventions in row crop cultivators and tillage systems, now sold worldwide and recognized as the world’s leading products in precision strip-till agriculture machinery.
With hard work, innovative design, and attention to detail, the company has become a world-famous brand for modern production agriculture. The company is expanding into a 115,000-foot facility, and those jobs are made possible by the need to continuously make our farms more efficient and productive. Each job at the company is tied to the agriculture industry, even though they’re a manufacturer.
On Monday, Ricketts said that agriculture creates 25% of the state’s jobs. However, as a Nebraska study explains, there are actually fewer farms in Nebraska than ever before: There were 135,000 farms in 1934, whereas there were only 53,000 in 2001. The total acreage of farming land has dropped, as well.
Often, however, agricultural companies are included in other market segments, like food processing or agricultural manufacturing, because farming itself has been changed by technology: “Farmers are learning how to use computers to determine everything from how much fertilizer to apply to cropland to how to seek out the best markets in which to sell their products. One of the major suppliers of data to farmers is based in Omaha. Farmers have always worked with land, labor, capital, and management economic factors; they are now adding computer technology, which will greatly add to their ability to acquire the knowledge needed to most effectively utilize the factors of production.”
This year, as we celebrate National Agriculture Week and the farmers who make our economy tick (and provide us with food to eat!), let’s not forget about the other sectors that make agriculture possible, as well as continuously improve our processes and systems. It’s impossible to celebrate Ag Week without celebrating the manufacturers of Ag Week and our long history of innovation.