Gov. Pete Ricketts has found he needs to clear up some misperceptions of American agriculture during his trade mission to Europe.
Ricketts has been talking to Europeans about a wide range of goods and products produced in Nebraska as well as touting Nebraska as a good state in which to invest.
Ricketts says the Nebraska delegation has run up against some obstacles that have nothing to do with United States trade policy.
“There’s a perception in Europe that American agriculture is this big, corporate farming operation and, obviously, that’s just not true,” Ricketts tells Nebraska Radio Network in a telephone interview from Europe.
The scale of American agriculture creates much of the misperception.
Europeans operate much smaller farms than typical of the United States, leading many Europeans to assume corporations run American farms.
Ricketts says it has been invaluable that the Nebraska delegation includes farmers and ranchers.
“I think it made a big impact as we could go around the room and have our farmers and ranchers introduce themselves and talk about how many generations have been on that farm or ranch,” Ricketts says. “That really, I think, went a long way.”
Some Europeans expressed concerns about food safety in the United States that the delegation has had to address. Bio-technology concerns have been raised, with Europeans displaying some of the same wariness as some Americans with the use of growth hormones in livestock production.
Ricketts says the Nebraska delegation has urged European Union officials to study the science behind GMOs to better understand the role science has played in the increased production of American agriculture.
Nebraska also is fighting beef quotas, which limits the quantity of Nebraska beef exported to Europe. Ricketts says that will have to be addressed by American trade negotiators.
Ricketts says getting around the non-tariff barriers starts with a common understanding between American and European officials.
The governor says Nebraska officials will work to follow-up the contacts made while in Nebraska to build the relationships key to increasing trade.
The Nebraska delegation has visited Italy, the European Union headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, and wraps up the trade mission today in Copenhagen, Denmark.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]