Beef is the top industry in Nebraska, but state officials say there remains room for growth.
Gov. Pete Ricketts signed a proclamation making May Beef Month in Nebraska during a ceremony in his office.
Nebraska ranks first among the states in beef exports with a total export value last year topping one billion dollars. It is the top state in cattle on feed as well as commercial cattle slaughter. Nebraska ranks second in cow-calf operations.
State Agriculture Director Greg Ibach says the University of Nebraska Animal Science Department is leading research in how to increase the amount of food available to cattle to increase herds in the state.
Work is underway on the federal level to open more markets for American beef, with an eye to China.
Ricketts says the beef industry should benefit greatly once former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad officially becomes the United States Ambassador to China. Ricketts says he met recently with Branstad and talked trade.
“And in our conversation about that, we specifically talked about getting the beef trade open and him making that one of his priorities as a new ambassador over there,” according to Ricketts.
Japan is the largest importer of Nebraska beef, buying $316 million worth of beef last year. South Korea is second with Mexico third.
China would represent a huge market, according to Ibach says the announcement last fall by Chinese officials that they are ready to open their markets to United States beef again is encouraging.
“We were very close last fall, but couldn’t get it over the finish line,” Ibach says, adding that the USDA has rekindled those talks, which should help re-open a huge market.