Gov. Pete Ricketts has a “beef” with Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.
Ricketts made an aside about Trump during a recent conference call with Nebraska reporters during his trade mission to Japan.
“Despite what Donald Trump has said, Itochu wants to get more Nebraska beef,” Ricketts stated. “In fact, not only do they import Nebraska beef, but about 20% of our beef exports go to Japan and that’s a market where we can capitalize on growing that going forward as well.”
During a telephone interview with Gov. Ricketts from Japan, Nebraska Radio Network asked Ricketts to elaborate on the statement.
“In the speech from the USS Iowa, Donald Trump had made a remark about how all we sell Japan is our beef and they don’t want it. It’s just not the case,” Ricketts told us. “We were meeting with one of the companies that imports Nebraska beef, Itochu, and they want to get more Nebraska beef.”
Itochu is a major Japanese trading company. It invests heavily in agri-business, including a 50-million-gallon per year, next generation biodiesel fuel project with Flint Hills Resources and Benefuel that is being jointly developed in Beatrice.
Ricketts says Japan has emerged as a major market for Nebraska beef.
“About 20% of our beef exports go to Japan,” Ricketts said. “That’s not a market that is refusing our beef. That’s a market that wants our beef.”
Both Ricketts and Trump are Republicans. Asked recently during a news conference at the Capitol about the Republican field for president, Ricketts expressed an affinity for his fellow governors in the race and stated he had never met Trump.