LINCOLN, NEB. – Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) urged President Donald Trump to raise the issue of access by U.S. beef producers to China during his upcoming meetings with Chinese President, Xi Jinping. Since 2003, China has banned the importation of U.S. beef. While it was announced, the ban would be lifted last fall, a formal agreement to reopen Chinese borders to U.S. beef has failed to take shape.

“Considering the importance of Nebraska’s beef industry to the state’s overall economy as well as our desire to expand beef exports, this meeting presents an important opportunity to address this vital issue,” Steve Nelson NEBF president wrote in a letter to President Trump April 5.

Nebraska is a leader when it comes to beef production in the United States. Currently, the state ranks first in commercial red meat production, total cattle on feed, commercial cattle slaughter as well as beef and veal exports. In 2016, Nebraska cattle producers exported $1.126 billion worth of beef and beef products.

“But, even with these impressive numbers, Nebraska’s cattle producers are experiencing some of the toughest economic times in recent memory. There are many reasons for this, but finding new growing markets for U.S. beef, like China, would assist in improving market prices,” Nelson wrote. “Outside of the direct impact to cattle producers, the jobs created by Nebraska’s beef industry would also be positively impacted. Nebraska’s agricultural exports support over 50,000 jobs both on the farm and in related industries such as food processing, transportation, and manufacturing,” the letter stated.

President Trump has spoken about ag at great length and the need to work on the U.S. trade deficit, which for 2016, was over $500 billion. However, agriculture remains the one area of the U.S. economy that maintains a trade surplus; projected at just over $21 billion for 2017.

“This surplus could expand once we, again, have access to the large and growing Chinese beef market,” Nelson wrote. “The President understandably has several issues he needs to address with President Xi, however discussing beef trade should fit within the likely conversations on other trade issues,” the letter noted.

“Yet, efforts to find new and expanding markets for all our agricultural products including beef should remain a top priority for the Trump administration,” Nelson wrote.

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 www.nefb.org.