Agriculture is Nebraska's dominant occupational pursuit. The state's chief farm products are cattle, corn, hogs, soybeans, and wheat. Nebraska ranked second among the states in cattle production in 1997. Wheat farming flourishes on the southwest plateaus, while irrigation along the Platte and its tributaries has increased the sugar-beet crop. The Univ. of Nebraska maintains agricultural experiment stations throughout the state. A program of soil conservation includes a shelter belt running across the state to check the effect of wind erosion, and dryland-farming techniques have been encouraged. Forest conservation is stressed, and the state (the birthplace of Arbor Day) has been very active in planting forests.
Nebraska's largest industry is food processing, notably including beef production. The state has diversified its industries since World War II, and the manufacture of electrical machinery, primary metals, and transportation equipment is also important. Deposits of oil (discovered in Cheyenne co. in 1949–50) contribute to the state's economy. Omaha and Lincoln are centers for insurance and telecommunications industries, and Offutt Air Force Base, near Omaha, was the cold-war center of the Strategic Air Command .
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