Ongoing drought raises big concern for agricultural future

Saturday, December 8, 2012
By Paul Martin

By Robert Pore
Friday, December 7, 2012

Agriculture is critical to Nebraska’s future, but Gov. Dave Heineman said the ongoing drought presents a challenge to the future of the state’s largest industry, which represents about 45 percent of the state’s gross domestic product.

From massive flooding along the Missouri River in 2011 to a massive drought that has engulfed all of Nebraska this year, Heineman told members of the Nebraska Farmers Union Friday that the weather has made a 180-degree turn from one extreme to another.

And the main concern is now “what is going to happen next year and the year after that,” he said.

Heineman spoke to members of the Nebraska Farmers Union at their annual state convention in Grand Island. He made a number of remarks in his address about the severity of the drought. Climate was also a topic of discussion as the convention featured several speakers who addressed climate change and the long-term impact it will have on Nebraska and its agricultural industry.

Heineman said Nebraska is the nation’s most irrigated state for crop production and that has helped the state manage the drought. But the lack of rain has depleted soil moisture to nearly zero through most of the state, raising concerns about next year’s grass and crop production.
“What I really worry about is what is going to happen next year,” he said. “I think there is going to be a great deal of tension if we don’t get enough moisture, between agriculture users of water resources, businesses and cities.”

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