Statewide economic impact of flooding

Published: Apr. 22, 2019 at 5:54 PM CDT
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We are now getting a closer look at the large economic impact the historic flooding will have on the agricultural communities and the state of Nebraska.

But will it have a national effect, costing consumers?

The flood killed thousands of livestock and destroyed crops is something that is expected to cost the local economy $2 Billion but when buying products from Nebraska at the register, it might not have as much of an impact as you thought.

Between the harsh winter, blizzards and flooding, farmers in the state are some of the people that have experienced devastating loss over the last few months.

"The farm economy and the rural communities are struggling anyway economically, and so this is just an added burden on to them,” said Nebraska Farm Bureau Senior Economist, Jay Rempe.

The Extension Policy Specialist for the University of Nebraska says while he estimates a $1 Billion loss to agriculture production across the state, it could take a $2 Billion hit to the state economy as a whole.

"We see loses in terms of wage income, we see loses in terms of commercial sales,” said UNL Extension Policy Specialist, Brad Lubben.

But he says it shouldn't change the prices you see in the store too much.

"It's still relatively minor in terms of its impact. That means that consumers don't have quite the sticker shock awaiting them at the retail counter as might have been feared,” said Lubben.

The Nebraska Farm Bureau says the agricultural economy overall doesn't look like it will be picking back up again anytime soon, only adding to the problems.

But Lubben says farmers are resilient and will re-build.

"For the next four to five years, all signs point to this continuing to be an ongoing struggle for rural communities and agriculture in the state,” said Rempe.

"We do see a pathway to recovery. It's a long one, but we do see a pathway there,” said Lubben.

To give you some perspective on the livestock impact, it's estimated thousands of calves died in the flooding.

In total, Nebraska has 2.7 million calves and there are 36 million calves nationally.

Meaning the state's calves as a whole is about 7.5% And experts say the thousands that died are not enough to drastically change national beef prices.