By Rep. Adrian Smith
Increasing international trade to boost our economy and benefit consumers is a rare bipartisan goal in Washington. However, there is a misconception trade primarily benefits agriculture producers, and large companies. While these groups certainly benefit from open markets, there are many examples in the Third District of small businesses, individuals, and communities who directly or indirectly profit from exports.
For example, Turkey Creek Furs in Crete is a Nebraska company which benefits from exports to China. The company, which employs five people, purchases cattle and deer hides from small processors in Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, and Missouri. They then sell the hides to a tanning facility which exports the processed pelts to China. Even though Turkey Creek Furs does not export directly, the demand for their services and the additional opportunities they create for small processors would likely be far less without the ability to export to China.
While many think our trade relationship with China is a one way street, companies like Turkey Creek demonstrate otherwise. Third District companies exported $1.2 billion of goods to China last year. And exports in goods from the Third District to China have increased 33 percent since 2002.
Another example of a small business supported by trade is Brown Sheep Company in Mitchell. Founded in 1980, this second-generation family business is now run by Robert and Peggy Wells. As the name suggests, the company buys wool and spins it into high quality yarn. The yarn is sold at retailers all over the United States and at 43 locations in six foreign countries: Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, Norway, and the United Kingdom. Brown Sheep supports not only the Wells’ and several employees, but also many local wool producers.
Turkey Creek Furs and Brown Sheep Company are not alone. Third District companies exported more than $5.4 billion of goods in 2013, supporting more than 80,000 jobs. One of the Third District’s fastest growing export categories is agricultural and construction machinery. Exports of these types of machines, such as center pivot irrigation systems, have increased by 21 percent since 2002.
International trade benefits all Nebraskans. I look forward to highlighting more Third District success stories, and as a Member of the Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee, working to expand new markets for Nebraska products.