LINCOLN, NEB. – In a letter to newly confirmed United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson made it clear that agriculture shouldn’t be sacrificed for the benefit of other U.S. industries under the Trump Administration’s trade policies. The letter reiterates the message Nelson shared with Lighthizer in person during a meeting between Nebraska agriculture leaders and Lighthizer, organized by U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse.
“While we certainly hope that new levels of success can be achieved for all segments of our nation’s economy, we must work to ensure the significant gains achieved in agricultural trade are not sacrificed for the benefit of other industries,” wrote Nelson in the letter dated May 11.
In making the case for agriculture to continue as a focal point of U.S. trade policy, Nelson noted the importance agricultural trade has had on Nebraska, specifically related to the free trade agreements the United States has signed with numerous countries around the world.
“Nebraska ranks in the top five among the 50 U.S. states in terms of value of its agricultural exports. In 2015 alone, exports to countries with free trade agreements accounted for 53 percent of Nebraska’s exports. From 2005-2015, exports from Nebraska to free trade agreement markets grew 104 percent, with growth in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) far outpacing that with other free trade agreement countries,” wrote Nelson.
Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, as well as mixed messages about NAFTA and other previously passed free trade agreements have been a source of concern for Nebraska farmers and ranchers and other Nebraskans. Agriculture accounts for more than 40 percent of the state’s economic output and employs roughly one out of every four Nebraskans, all of which are impacted by Nebraska agriculture’s success in the global trade arena.
“Nebraska farm and ranch families rely on international trade for 30 percent of their overall income. It’s our hope that you will keep our industry at the forefront of your thoughts as you work on these important issues which will shape future trade policy. We look forward to working with you as the new U.S. Trade Representative,” wrote Nelson.
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.