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Report Shows Third Consecutive Year for Record-Setting Exports, Outlook Not as Promising for Agricultural Trade

LINCOLN, NEB. – Nebraska Farm Bureau has published its annual Agricultural and International Trade Report again highlighting the importance of international trade to the bottom-line of Nebraska’s farm and ranch families. The report release comes shortly after a House Ways and Means Committee hearing centered on trade, emphasizing the importance of a proactive strategy in expanding markets for American agriculture to the Biden administration. 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.

“Our analysis shows that trade is vitally important to the economic future of Nebraska’s farm and ranch families. Unfortunately, the Biden administration has not effectively pushed for increased market opportunities for farmers and ranchers while also struggling to consistently enforce provisions of trade deals that enable farmers to sell their products overseas,” said Nebraska Farm Bureau President Mark McHargue.

Expanding markets, both within the country and overseas, for agricultural products from Nebraska is a top priority for Nebraska Farm Bureau. NEFB plays an active role in trade missions with the governor, while McHargue leads the American Farm Bureau Trade Subcommittee, showcasing a firm dedication to improving export prospects.

“Nebraska farmers and ranchers depend on export markets for nearly a third of their agricultural production. Which is why this issue is a primary focus for NEFB and why we urge the Biden administration and Congress to continue discussions with our key export partners and those with potential for growth. It is crucial to consider how trade initiatives can best enhance agricultural exports for our state and our nation,” said McHargue.

The report, issued annually since 2017, acts as a barometer demonstrating the importance of trade to farmers, ranchers, and Nebraska’s economy. The estimates are calculated using the 2022 USDA trade numbers released in October 2023.

International trade has been a big win for Nebraska farmers and ranchers, with agricultural exports making up about 30 percent of their earnings. The Nebraska Agriculture and International Trade report provides a comprehensive look at Nebraska agricultural trade, showing how different commodities impact the economy and benefit farmers, ranchers, and counties across the state.

“Nebraska was once again the fifth-largest agricultural exporting state in 2022 with exported agricultural commodities worth $9.97 billion, marking the third consecutive year of record-setting exports,” said Jay Rempe, economist of Rolling Prairie Economics and author of the report.

According to the report, soybeans, corn, and beef remained solidly entrenched as Nebraska’s top agricultural exports, accounting for nearly two-thirds of total exports. Soybeans were the top export commodity, up 23 percent from the prior year. The USDA attributed that growth to increased prices and a strong demand in most top export markets.

“Nebraska is the fifth-largest exporter of soybeans at $2.3 billion. In 2022, China was the largest soybean purchaser, but growth was also seen from Mexico, the European Union, Egypt, and Japan. Exports are a growing part of Nebraska’s agricultural sales—exports in 2022 were four times greater than those in 2000,” said Rempe.

The report shows Nebraska leads the nation in exports of beef at $1.86 billion. The value of Nebraska beef exports rose 13%, setting a record. The report also shows Nebraska’s corn exports were off 4%, but still finishing as the second highest on record at $2.25 billion placing Nebraska as the nation’s third-largest exporter of corn.

“Like soybeans, China was the largest buyer of corn, followed by Mexico and Japan. Exports to these three countries accounted for 71% of total United States corn exports, while South Korea, Japan, and China accounted for 62% of United States beef exports,” said Rempe.

According to Nebraska Farm Bureau, much of Nebraska’s agricultural trade success can be tied to free trade agreements. While 2022 numbers show record-setting amounts, initial figures for 2023 are not as promising: highlighting the effects of inaction by the Biden administration to pursue an ambitious trade agenda that benefits Nebraska’s farm and ranch families as well as Nebraska’s economy as a whole.

“Mexico’s ban on genetically modified white corn, the lack of work by the Biden Administration to pursue new free trade agreements, along with the failure to enforce China’s obligations to increase purchases under the previously signed Phase 1 trade pact all act as headwinds to our efforts to grow international export markets. Failure to move forward with much of a trade agenda at all has put Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers at a disadvantage on the world stage, resulting in a projected agriculture trade deficit of $21.5 billion in 2023,” said McHargue. “Expanding international markets is vital to Nebraska’s farm and ranch families economically, while also helping them provide food, fiber, and energy to families around the globe.”

Nebraska Farm Bureau expects the value of trade in 2023 for Nebraska and counties will be down compared to the 2022 figures outlined in this report. Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Nebraska Agriculture and International Trade report is available online at www.nefb.org.

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 55,000 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 www.nefb.org.

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