Members of Congress are beginning the process of crafting a new U.S. Farm Bill and Nebraskans are offering suggestions on how to improve trade.
Nebraska’s agricultural exports exceeded $6.3 billion in 2015, so it is no wonder trade came up often at a recent Farm Bill listening tour in Nebraska.
U.S. Senator Ben Sasse (NE-R) says agricultural trade is fundamental to the basis of Nebraska’s economy.
“And right now, you have a whole bunch of people who are confused about how trade works,” Sasse said at the roundtable discussion, “and, unfortunately, some of those folks are inside the (Trump) administration.”
Jim Miller, a Nebraska farmer who chairs the U.S. Soybean Export Council, says spending on those needs to be increased.
“These two programs have not increased since the 2002 Farm Bill,” Miller said. “Sequestration and USDA administrative expenses have eroded the available dollars to the cooperators by $22.6 million.”
And since 2002, Miller says, inflation has reduced funding by another 30%. He says soybean producers want funding doubled for those trade programs.
“They’re key in expanding market access opportunities around the globe for Nebraska’s producers and their families,” U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (NE-R) told those at the roundtable discussion.
But Fischer is warning producers that even maintaining funding will be a challenge. She says there are some groups who are opposed to the Farm Bill.
Nebraska’s top five agricultural exports in 2015 were soybeans, feeds and fodders, beef and veal, corn and soybean meal.
Ken Anderson, Brownfield Ag News, contributed to this story.