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Thanks to the recent 2022 USDA Census of Agriculture, Nebraska has new numbers recognizing the top ag products coming from the state.

Curt Arens, Editor, Nebraska Farmer

March 27, 2024

2 Min Read
Cattle in field
WE’RE NUMBER ONE: Beef is still No. 1 in Nebraska, but poultry slipped into the top five ag products category in the state, according to new USDA Census of Agriculture results for 2022. Curt Arens

Poultry and eggs are moving up among the top five commodities produced by Nebraska farmers. Thanks to the recently released results from the 2022 U.S. Census of Agriculture, farmers have a more detailed picture of the ag industry in the state.

A couple of things haven’t changed since the last census was taken in 2017. Cattle and calves, along with corn and soybeans, round out the top three commodities as determined by sales, according to a release by the University of Nebraska Department of Agricultural Economics.

With 44 million acres in agricultural production, 48.8% is in permanent pasture and rangeland, compared with 48.2% in farmland. The balance is considered farmsteads, ponds, roads, livestock facilities, homes and woodlands.

Big in beef

Cattle and calves remain the top business in Nebraska, representing 41.6% of total ag sales, while corn ranks second in the Cornhusker state, raking in 31.8% of total sales. Soybeans is third at 12.1%. Hogs and pigs take the fourth-place spot with 6.7%, but poultry and eggs have moved into fifth, representing $616 million in sales, up significantly from 2017.

Nebraska’s top livestock table

The actual numbers reflect these percentages if you dig into the details. The layer inventory remains very close to 2017 numbers, but the broiler industry in the state has exploded, going from 6.7 million birds reported in 2017 to almost 91 million in 2022.

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The number of acres in corn production harvested for grain has gone down over the past five years, from 9.445 million acres reported in the 2017 census to 8.648 million harvested for grain in 2022. Silage and greenchop acres went up slightly by about 34,000 acres.

Soybean acres harvested have gone down as well, from 5.664 million acres in 2017 to 5.393 million acres in 2022. All wheat for grain, including about 6,533 acres of spring wheat, was reported at 840,937 acres, compared with about 1 million acres in 2017. Over the past five years, sorghum acres for grain or silage and greenchop have increased slightly, along with sunflower acres harvested.

Nebraska’s top crops table

On the livestock side, beef cow numbers, not surprisingly, were down from 1.896 million in 2017 to 1.721 million head in 2022. Total cattle and calves sold were down by about 100,000 head.

The number of dairies has certainly declined since 2017, but the number of dairy milk cows in the state has gone down by only 11,000 head to a total of just over 57,000. The number of hogs and pigs in the state and the hogs and pigs sold have remained relatively stable since 2017.

See the accompanying table to contrast crop and livestock numbers between the Census of Agriculture in 2022 to five years ago in 2017 and 25 years ago in 1997. For more information, go to

About the Author(s)

Curt Arens

Editor, Nebraska Farmer

Curt Arens began writing about Nebraska’s farm families when he was in high school. Before joining Farm Progress as a field editor in April 2010, he had worked as a freelance farm writer for 27 years, first for newspapers and then for farm magazines, including Nebraska Farmer.

His real full-time career, however, during that same period was farming his family’s fourth generation land in northeast Nebraska. He also operated his Christmas tree farm and grew black oil sunflowers for wild birdseed. Curt continues to raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa and runs a cow-calf herd.

Curt and his wife Donna have four children, Lauren, Taylor, Zachary and Benjamin. They are active in their church and St. Rose School in Crofton, where Donna teaches and their children attend classes.

Previously, the 1986 University of Nebraska animal science graduate wrote a weekly rural life column, developed a farm radio program and wrote books about farm direct marketing and farmers markets. He received media honors from the Nebraska Forest Service, Center for Rural Affairs and Northeast Nebraska Experimental Farm Association.

He wrote about the spiritual side of farming in his 2008 book, “Down to Earth: Celebrating a Blessed Life on the Land,” garnering a Catholic Press Association award.

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