Nebraska farmers and ranchers had the ear of Senator Ben Sasse during an Agriculture Roundtable discussion Wednesday at a farm in Papillion. Trade with China was the number one topic during the hour long discussion and Sasse didn’t mix words regarding exports how important it is this gets resolved soon.
Senator Sasse says, “If we shut off export markets to our crops and our beef and our pork our state literally goes bankrupt because you are the best producers in the world.”
Sass says he understands that producers are fearful after China imposed tariffs on agriculture products in a growing trade war with the United States.
Attending the roundtable was USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agriculture Affairs Ted McKinney who shared a message that President Trump recently told Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue. He says, “You can assure your farmers out there that we are not going to allow them to be causalities if this trade dispute escalates. We are going to take care of our farmers and ranchers.
Senator Sasse went on to say how important trade is to Nebraska producers. He says, “Tariffs are bad and trade is good. Trade wars are stupid. Trade wars are painful and trade wars are unnecessary.” He says voices in Washington would be better served by listening to our state’s producers.
In 2016, Nebraska exported $6.6 billion in commodities. China’s imports totaled $1.43 billion followed by Mexico at $956 million, Japan at $887.1 million, South Korea at $499.9 million and Canada at $433.5 million.
Nebraska ranks 5th in total agriculture products exported by value among the 50 states. Nebraska is first in the total amount of beef exported, 3rd in total corn and feed exported, 5th in soybeans and 8th in pork.
From 2004 to 2014, Nebraska’s exports have increased 211% to countries with Free Trade Agreements in effect.