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Farm Bureau Report: Soybeans Lead the Way in Agriculture Trade in the Beef State

LINCOLN, NEB. – Nebraska may be known as the beef state, but when it comes to agriculture exports, international sales of soybeans bring home the greatest value to Nebraska agriculture, according to a report released by the Nebraska Farm Bureau, Tues. March 20. The report, “Nebraska Agriculture and International Trade”, is the latest in a series of analysis highlighting the importance of agricultural trade to Nebraska farmers, ranchers, rural communities, as well as the state’s broader economy.

“At a time when President Trump and the administration is looking to implement trade tariffs and considering withdraw from existing trade deals, our analysis continues to show that trade is critical to the long-term health of Nebraska agriculture, and any actions that weaken our agriculture trade position would be a mistake,” said Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson, March 20.

While previous reports have focused on impacts the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the U.S.- South Korea Trade Agreement (KORUS), the “Nebraska Agriculture and International Trade” report provides a comprehensive review of Nebraska agricultural trade and the dollar and cents impact on individual agriculture commodities and how that translates to farmers, ranchers, and Nebraska counties.

According to the report Nebraska was the fifth-largest agricultural exporting state in the country in 2016, exporting $6.6 billion in agricultural goods. Nebraska also topped the nation in beef exports, is the third-largest exporter of corn, feed and other grains, and processed grain products, and the fifth-largest exporter of soybeans and soybean meal.

“Nebraska’s exports of soybeans, corn, and beef have climbed significantly over the last decade and Nebraska’s total agriculture exports in 2016 were three times the amount our state exported in 2000,” said Jay Rempe, Nebraska Farm Bureau senior economist and author of the report. “In terms of total export value, soybeans topped the list in Nebraska generating more than $1.6 billion in sales in 2016, followed by sales of corn ($1.1 billion), beef and veal ($1 billion), distillers dried grains ($300 million), soybean meal ($297 million), ethanol ($287 million), pork ($230 million), wheat ($121 million), and grain sorghum ($32 million).

According to the report, nearly one-half of the soybeans produced in Nebraska annually are exported, whereas more corn produced in Nebraska stays in the country and is fed to livestock or is feedstock in ethanol production.

To help bring the value of agriculture trade closer to home for farmers and ranchers, the report identifies the value of agriculture trade on an individual commodity basis.

“What we found is the value of international trade translates to a per-unit value of $6.27 per bushel of soybeans, $1.03 per bushel of corn, $2.04 per bushel of wheat, $169 per head of beef animal, and $68 per head for pork. When you look at the price of individual commodities, you get a strong sense of just how important trade is when farmers are looking at $3.30 per bushel price for corn,” said Rempe, “we’re talking about roughly one-third of the value coming from trade.”

The report also outlines the per-farm/ranch, and per county implications of international trade, as well as examining the value of trade on a commodity-by-commodity basis for each Nebraska county.

In terms of counties, Platte County relies more heavily on international trade than any other county in the state with roughly $148 million of Platte County agriculture commodities and products exported each year. In total, 11 Nebraska counties derived more than $100 million in value from export sales.

On a per-farm basis, Phelps County farms were the most reliant on trade with an export value per-farm just shy of $266,000, according to the report.

“The importance of trade to Nebraska agriculture can’t be understated and this report provides a complete and comprehensive view of what it means to the pocketbooks of Nebraska’s farm and ranch families and the impacts of trade on our rural counties that ultimately translate into the success of our state’s broader economy,” said Nelson. “The message to Washington, D.C. from Nebraska is clear. Don’t do anything that would harm agriculture trade.”

The “Nebraska Agriculture and International Trade” report containing the full economic analysis is available on the Nebraska Farm Bureau website at  

The Nebraska Farm Bureau is a grassroots, state-wide organization dedicated to supporting farm and ranch families and working for the benefit of all Nebraskans through a wide variety of educational, service and advocacy efforts. More than 61,000 families across Nebraska are Farm Bureau members, working together to achieve rural and urban prosperity as agriculture is a key fuel to Nebraska’s economy. For more information about Nebraska Farm Bureau and agriculture, visit

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