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The ripple effects from Midwest flooding will make a difference in people’s lives far beyond the water’s original reach. Annette Tait & Kate "Katy" Kassian / Agweek

Yes, the Nebraska flooding WILL reach you

We don't claim to be expert economists or financial folk. But we are pretty darn good consumers. And all it takes is common sense for a consumer to see how the flooding in Nebraska will reach so much farther than that state's boundaries.

Think about it. The exaggerated version has been done in holiday movies and TV shows for years. Someone just absolutely HAS to have the hottest toy that season for their kid/niece/nephew/grandchild. It's sold out online, so they start trying EVERY store in the area. The first few are sold out, until — thank goodness! — there's ONE left at the last place they look.

The problem? EVERYBODY wants it, and only ONE person will actually get it.

Yes, we know there will be more than one steak or pound of hamburger left in the nation. Other places produce livestock and grow crops. We'll all get our food from somewhere else. Right?

Not exactly. Let's start by taking a look at Nebraska's beef — and other livestock and crop — production. The state is a major player in the nation's agriculture industry. In 2017 Nebraska was ranked No. 1 in the nation for beef and beef product exports, and in 2018 it ranked No. 1 in the nation for commercial red meat production, No. 2 for all hay production, and No. 3 for corn exports. And that's just the tip of Nebraska's ag production iceberg. The state's producers are very good at what they do, and they share it with the nation and the world.

Or at least they were. And they did. Now, many Nebraska producers are only able to do whatever they can to clear away the flood's aftermath and figure out what they can salvage, if anything. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

In the meantime, much of our nation hasn't yet grasped that the damage will reach far beyond Nebraska's borders. We are spoiled by the wealth of our nation and our blessings of plenty, and we're not accustomed to suffering from short supplies.

Sure, our pocketbooks have taken a hit. Remember when gasoline prices climbed like crazy a few years back, and we griped and moaned about $4/gal. gas? BUT — it was still available, and we still bought it.

The key is "available."

A lot of what Nebraska grows helps support agriculture in other states. Ranchers in nearby states buy Nebraska corn to finish their cattle, or they send their cattle to finish in Nebraska feedlots. That's not going to happen this year.

And other Nebraska ag products — cattle and calves, corn, soybeans, hogs, dairy products, wheat, hay, eggs, potatoes and dry beans — aren't going to be shipped to other markets this year. The 40 percent of Nebraska's corn crop that's been used in past years to produce ethanol won't be going into our gas tanks any time soon, either.

And the money — from producers, elevators, truckers, implement dealers, farm and ranch supply stores, you name it — that usually goes to support Nebraskans' purchases both inside and outside state borders isn't going to contribute to the economy.

We don't expect to see groceries rationed in stores. But it won't surprise us one bit to see a little less on the shelves at higher prices than what we're used to.

So don't click away or change the channel when the photos and videos tug your heartstrings. Instead, imagine how our neighbors in Nebraska feel, and do something about it.

It doesn't matter how much or how little you can help. Please help however you can.

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