Farmers patience put to test as trade disputes linger

September 18, 2018

LINCOLN - Nebraska agricultural groups are coming together to press for expanded trade.

Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson says a third of Nebraska agriculture’s gross revenue comes from sales to other countries.

“We also know that the average farmer in Nebraska exports about $100,000 worth of product,” Nelson tells a news conference held at Husker Harvest Days in Grand Island. “Now that would vary depending upon what you produce and the size of the farm, but that is a huge number, again telling us how important trade is.”

Nebraska agricultural groups say farmers and ranchers are patient, but that patience is being strained as President Trump and his administration work to reach trade agreements with Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and even China.

Trade disputes have resulted in tariffs and product restrictions.

Nebraska Soybean Association president Robert Johnston says for his farmers trade isn’t always about exporting soybeans.

“But our number one consumer of soybeans in Nebraska is animal ag and so we want to keep that in mind,” Johnston says. “We just as well add value to the state and export those meat products.”

Trade is huge for Nebraska.

In 2016, Nebraska ranked fifth among the states in exports, shipping more than $6.6 billion of agricultural goods. Nebraska ranks first in beef exports, third in corn, feed, and other grains, as well as processed grain products. It is the fifth largest exporter of soybeans and soybean meal.

Farm groups say what they have heard from the administration is encouraging, but they are quick to add that resolution of the trade disputes with several nations is vital to the bottom line of Nebraska farmers and ranchers.

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