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Poll: Ag remains driver of economic well-being

Poll: Ag remains driver of economic well-being

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LINCOLN — Most rural Nebraskans believe that agriculture is a driver of economic well-being in their households, communities or both, according to the 2020 Nebraska Rural Poll.

Most rural Nebraskans also have deep roots in the state’s agricultural industry, the poll found. Half of those surveyed are one generation or less removed from the farm or ranch, while just 28% of households have no farming or ranching history in the previous four generations. These findings are similar to the 2010 survey.

Four in 10 rural Nebraskans surveyed said their economic well-being is dependent on the success of production agriculture, said Rebecca Vogt, survey manager of the Nebraska Rural Poll, an annual survey of rural Nebraska households conducted each spring. Another 23% of respondents said some of their economic well-being is tied to production agriculture. When looking at animal agriculture in particular, a third of respondents said their economic well-being is dependent on it, and another 23% said it impacts some of their economic well-being.

Furthermore, most rural Nebraskans surveyed say the economic well-being of their community or county is dependent on the success of both production and animal agriculture. Three-quarters said the economic well-being of their community or county is affected by the success of production agriculture in general. In addition, 71% said the economic well-being of their community or county is dependent on animal agriculture in particular.

The importance of agriculture as a driver of personal and community well-being is consistent with the findings of a recent report on the economic impact of the ag sector in Nebraska, said Brad Lubben, Extension associate professor and policy specialist at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

“With nearly one in four people across the entire state — metropolitan areas included — employed in ag production or an ag-related profession, it’s obvious that overall well-being and agriculture are tied closely together in Nebraska,” Lubben said. “As the survey results show, even those not directly involved in agriculture connect the success of agriculture to the success of their communities.”

The 2020 poll was mailed to 7,000 rural households across the state in April. It is the largest annual poll of rural Nebraskans’ perceptions on quality of life and policy issues. This year’s response rate was 33%. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 2%. Complete results are available at ruralpoll.unl.edu. The university’s Department of Agricultural Economics conducts the poll with funding from Nebraska Extension and Rural Prosperity Nebraska.

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