KEARNEY, NEB. – Despite major declines in Nebraska soybean exports, and reductions in both pork and wheat exports, the dollar value of Nebraska’s total agriculture exports increased from 2017 to 2018 thanks to significant boosts in sales of Nebraska beef and corn to countries that avoided trade disputes with the United States. That’s one of several findings from Nebraska Farm Bureau’s “Nebraska Agriculture and International Trade” report which uses the most current United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) trade data to identify the value of Nebraska agriculture exports in 2018 on a per-commodity, per-county, and per-farm and ranch basis.
“Remarkedly, the overall value of Nebraska exports grew in 2018 despite trade disputes with many U.S. trading partners. Fortunately for Nebraska producers, the U.S. maintained positive relations with two leading beef markets in Japan and South Korea allowing growth to occur. Expanded purchases by Japan and South Korea boosted the value of Nebraska’s beef exports to more than $1.3 billion in 2018, a record high,” said Jay Rempe, Nebraska Farm Bureau senior economist and author of the report.
According to the report, friendly trade relations with Japan also led to increased purchases of Nebraska corn, as Japanese imports of U.S. corn grew by 34 percent in 2018. Nebraska also benefited from Mexico opting not to impose tariffs on U.S. corn in retaliation for U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum. U.S. corn exports to Mexico increased by 16 percent over the previous year. Production problems elsewhere in the world aided Nebraska’s total corn exports which increased by 42 percent in 2018, the second-highest level on record.
In releasing the report, Nebraska Farm Bureau identified a four-point “To-Do” list on trade. The list includes securing Congressional passage and finalization of the United States – Mexico – Canada Agreement (USMCA), finalizing a trade deal with China that removes the tariffs China has placed on U.S. agricultural products, expanding efforts to find new partners with emphasis on free trade agreements with countries involved in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, the European Union, the United Kingdom, India, and others. The list is rounded out by the need to ensure there is a future for Rules-Based Trade, involving reforms to the World Trade Organization (WTO) that address dispute settlement process, challenges from China’s state-run enterprises, and rules governing developing countries.