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Nebraska Counties Explorer

Buffalo County

Communities & Development

Buffalo County Seat: Kearney

Total County Population (2020): 50,084

  • Cities (pop.): Gibbon (1,878 • 2nd Class), Kearney (33,790 • 1st Class), Ravenna (1,441 • 2nd Class)
  • Villages (pop.): Amherst (201), Elm Creek (979), Miller (129), Pleasanton (361), Riverdale (247), Shelton (1,034)
  • Unincorporated Pop. (% of county pop.): 10,024 (20%)

Land Development (2022) (% of total land in county):

  • Agriculture: 86% 
    • By method: Irrigated (row crop/grain/forage) (42%); Pasture (pure grassland) (35%); Dryland (row crop/grain/forage) (9%) • Neb. Dept. of Rev. - total equals agriculture's %
    • By commodity: Livestock (grassland) 35%, Corn 34%, Soybeans 15%, Alfalfa 3%, Sorghum 1% • USDA (NLCD) - equals agriculture's % plus some wetlands (5%) and some wooded grazing land (1%) and minus public grassland/wetlands and reserve
  • Residential, Commercial, Industrial, Conservation Reserve & Exempt (combined): 12%
  • Timber: 2%

County Offices

Courthouse Address and Hours:

1512 Central Avenue
Kearney, Nebraska 68848
M-F 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

County Board Chairperson: Ivan Klein

Complete list of county board members

County Board Meetings: 2nd & 4th Tuesday

View the County's Government Maps

Visit the County Fairgrounds

NACO District: Central

District President: Carrie Miller, Nuckolls County Clerk, Register of Deeds, Election Commissioner

District Vice President: Kali Bolli, Garfield County Assessor 

District Secretary/Treasurer: Cara Snider Wheeler County Clerk

NACO Board Representatives: Bill Maendele, Buffalo County Commissioner

Click for a live look at Buffalo County (east of Miller)


Population: 50,084
Land area (sq. mi.): 968.22
Population per square mile: 52.0



White: 84.1%
African American: 1.2%
American Indian: 0.3%
Asian: 1.3%
Hispanic: 10.1%
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 0.1%
Two or More Races: 2.8%


0-17: 23.0%
18-64: 61.2%
65+: 15.8%


Personal income per capita: $61,763
% of population in poverty: 9.5%
# of housing units: 20,947
Owner-occupied rate: 63%
Median home price: $218,870


Access to broadband (100 Mbps via fiber or cable model): 87.1%

Sources: National Association of RealtorsNebraska Library CommissionU.S. Bureau of Economic AnalysisU.S. Census Bureau

Employment, Schools, and Child Care

Unemployment rate: 1.8% (as of September 2022)

County Employment Website:

High school graduate or higher: 95.5%

School Districts: Amherst Public Schools, Ansley Public Schools, Centura Public Schools, Elm Creek Public Schools, Gibbon Public Schools, Kearney Public Schools, Pleasanton Public Schools, Ravenna Public Schools, Shelton Public Schools, Sumner-Eddyville-Miller Schools

Bachelor's degree or higher: 24.2%

Community College Service Area: Central Community College

Countywide child care capacity: 105 providers; 4,002 children

Find child care: For a list of child care providers in your zip code, visit Nebraska DHHS or the Nebraska Resource and Referral System.

Buffalo County Economy

Annual Gross Domestic Product (2020): $3,088,277,000

Cattle Producers: 468

  • Pastureland Cash Rent (avg.): $38/acre/yr

Crop Producers: 491

  • Dryland Land Cash Rent (avg.): $124/acre/yr
  • Irrigated Land Cash Rent (avg.): $264/acre/yr

Dairy Producers: 2

Grain Co-ops and Purchasers: Aurora Cooperative, Cargill, CHS, CPI, Farmers Cooperative Association, KAAPA Ethanol

Local Grain Market: Click for today's grain prices in Buffalo County

Farmers Markets:

  • Fairgrounds Farmers Market (June - October, Wednesdays 3 - 7 p.m. and Saturdays 8 a.m. - 1 p.m.)
  • Kearney Area Farmers Market - Hilltop Mall (May - October, Wednesdays 2 pm to 6 pm and Saturdays 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
  • Kearney Night Market (Every First and Third Thursday from April 6th, 2017 until October 5th, 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.)
  • Ravenna Farmers Market (June - October, 4 - 7 p.m. on the 1st Friday of each month at 5 - 9 p.m.)

Electricity Providers: Custer PPD, Dawson PPD, Nebraska PPD, Southern PPD

Rail-Served Communities: Buda, Elm Creek, Gibbon, Kearney, Odessa, Ravenna, Shelton

Well Locations (Irrigation/Livestock), Soils, Groundwater & Surface Water

Total Irrigation/Livestock Wells: 3,767

Surface Water Diversions (Irrigation): 91

Click for real time:

Stream data on Elm Creek near the Village of Elm Creek

Stream data on the Platte River near Kearney

Stream data on the South Loup River at Saint Michael

Groundwater level data at Saint Michael

Groundwater level data near Kearney High School

Sources: National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA), Nebraska Cooperative Council, Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary EducationNebraska Department of TransportationNebraska Office of the CIO, Nebraska Power Review Board, U.S. Bureau of Economic AnalysisU.S. Bureau of Labor StatisticsU.S. Census Bureau

2022 Levies and Valuations

County levy rate: $0.3330 per $100 of taxable valuation

County property taxes levied: $22,232,604

Total local government property taxes levied: $116,314,984

Total countywide taxable valuation: $6,675,988,350

Click here for all levy rates in Buffalo County

County Levy and Taxation Laws

Levy limits

Since 1996, counties and other political subdivisions have been subject to the levy limits listed in Neb. Rev. Stat. § 77-3442 and Neb. Rev. Stat. § 77-3443.

Statutes and regulations

Nebraska Revised Statutes (Chapter 77)

Nebraska Administrative Code (Title 350)

Local tax reductions, exemptions, and credits:

Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-902(5)(a) (Deed "stamp tax" exemption): "The [stamp tax] shall not apply to: ... (5)(a) Deeds between spouses, between ex-spouses for the purpose of conveying any rights to property acquired or held during the marriage, or between parent and child, without actual consideration therefor."

Neb. Rev. Stat. § 77-201(2) (Valuation of agricultural land and horticultural land): "Agricultural land and horticultural land as defined in section 77-1359 shall constitute a separate and distinct class of property for purposes of property taxation, shall be subject to taxation, unless expressly exempt from taxation, and shall be valued at seventy-five percent of its actual value, except that for school district taxes levied to pay the principal and interest on bonds that are approved by a vote of the people on or after January 1, 2022, such land shall be valued at fifty percent of its actual value."

Neb. Rev. Stat. § 77-6703(1) (Tax credit for school district taxes paid): "(1) For taxable years beginning or deemed to begin on or after January 1, 2020, under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, there shall be allowed to each eligible taxpayer a refundable credit against the income tax imposed by the Nebraska Revenue Act of 1967 or against the franchise tax imposed by sections 77-3801 to 77-3807. The credit shall be equal to the credit percentage for the taxable year, as set by the department under subsection (2) of this section, multiplied by the amount of school district taxes paid by the eligible taxpayer during such taxable year."

Sources: Nebraska Department of Revenue

State Senator: Tom Briese (District 41)
Committees: Education; Revenue; Executive Board (chairperson); Legislative Performance Audit; Legislature’s Planning; Reference (chairperson)

Map and statistics for Legislative District 41

State Senator: John Lowe (District 37)
Committees: General Affairs (chairperson); Government, Military and Veterans Affairs; Urban Affairs; Executive Board; Committee on Committees (vice chairperson); Reference

Map and statistics for Legislative District 37

Map of all districts in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Buffalo County History

Number of Registered Historic Places: 21

Year Authorized: 1855

Year Organized: 1870

Etymology: The American Bison

     Buffalo County was established in 1855 and named after the American Bison which once dominated the landscape. Prior to the arrival of white settlers, Buffalo County was fertile hunting ground claimed by both Pawnee and Sioux Native American tribes. The first settlers in Buffalo County were Mormons whose early settlement became a stopover for emigrants headed to Utah and Oregon. In 1848, due to westward migration, Fort Kearny was constructed as a formal way station, offering shelter, supplies, and protection in the form of soldiers and a fortified structure. Although the county initially consisted of a few homesteads and small communities, it quickly grew as settlers from the east and other parts of the country arrived in search of new opportunities.

     The first wave of settlers consisted primarily of farmers, ranchers, and traders. These early settlers were drawn to the area by the fertile soil, abundant water resources, and rolling prairies that were ideal for farming and livestock grazing. The arrival of the railroad in the 1870s further fueled the growth of the county, making it easier for settlers to move in and for crops and livestock to be transported to markets.

     Buffalo County played an important role in Nebraska’s early development. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, the county was a major center of commerce and industry, with thriving agricultural and livestock industries, as well as manufacturing and transportation businesses. In addition, Buffalo County was a major player in the state's political and cultural development, with several influential politicians and cultural leaders hailing from the area. The county also played a key role in the nation's military history. During World War II, the area was home to several Army training centers, where thousands of soldiers were trained for service in Europe and the Pacific

     Today, Buffalo County is a vibrant and thriving community, with a rich history and a bright future. The county is home to a diverse population, including families, students, business owners, and farmers, as well as the University of Nebraska - Kearney. The area's strong agricultural and economic base, combined with its close proximity to the cities of Kearney and Grand Island, make it one of the fastest growing areas in Nebraska.

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Local Highlights

License Plate Number: 9

Time Zone: Central

Zoned County: Yes

Number of Veterans: 2,733

Number of County-Owned Bridges: 33

Number of County-Owned Dams: 4

Election Data

General Election Turnout % (2022): 52.78%

Total Registered Voters (2020): 31,204

Number of Precincts (2020): 29

Number of Election Day Polling Places (2020): 25

Land Area per Polling Place (2020): 38.73 sq. miles

Intergovernmental Data

Emergency Mgt. Planning, Exercise and Training (PET) Region: South Central

Natural Resource Districts: Central Platte NRD, Lower Loup NRD

State Lands (acres): Bassway Strip WMA (915), Blue Hole WMA (275.57), Bufflehead WMA (22.74), Coot Shallows WMA (43.35), East Odessa WMA (131.43), Fort Kearney SRA (186.18 Buffalo & Kearney), Kea Lake WMA (28.38), Kea West WMA (11.04), Kearney Rest Area EB (23.5), Kearney Rest Area WB (22.3), Sandy Channel SRA (180.57), Union Pacific SRA (37.95), War Axe SRA (25.07), University of Nebraska-Kearney (515), Windmill SRA (167)

Sources: Nebraska Department of Transportation, Nebraska Emergency Management AgencyNebraska Game & Parks CommissionNebraska LegislatureNebraska Office of the CIONebraska Secretary of StateU.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (eCFR)