With Nebraska producers increasingly feeling the brunt of the ongoing trade war with China, it was good news last week when President Trump signed an agreement with the European Union that will increase U.S. beef exports to the EU.

Beef is the leading export commodity from Nebraska and convincing a customer to increase its purchases of U.S. beef means more Nebraska beef will be showing up on European families’ tables.

Gov. Pete Ricketts said the agreement presents a “major growth opportunity for our state.”

In 2005 only 5 percent of the U.S. beef entering the EU came from Nebraska. By 2018, Nebraska’s share had risen to 53 percent and was valued at $124.3 million.

Under the trade deal, U.S. farmers will ultimately be entitled to nearly 80 percent of the European Union’s quota on hormone-free beef during the next seven years. This means the U.S. will export 35,000 tons of beef to the EU per year.

Last year, the USDA reported that Nebraska was the nation’s leading cattle slaughter state at more than 7.45 million head.

Nebraska shipments of beef and beef products to the European Union ranged from $120 million to $143 million annually during the last five years. That’s between 40 percent and 50 percent of total U.S. shipments.

“Hopefully, (the) deal is a positive step in building relations to secure a bilateral trade deal with the European Union to open even greater access for U.S. agriculture products,” Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson said.

“With the agriculture economy struggling and the recent difficulties in trade negotiations with China, it’s critical we continue to grow agriculture market opportunities where we can,” Nelson said.

Increasing our regular customers’ appetite for our beef is an important task as the U.S. continues trade negotiations with countries around the world. The longer China finds a way to do without U.S. meat products, the more likely it becomes that it could take a decade or more to recover that market.

Sen. Deb Fischer, a cattle rancher and a member of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, emphasized the high quality of Nebraska beef as she lauded the agreement with the EU.

That is also the message Ricketts will take with him when he goes on a trade mission to Germany in November.

We in Nebraska know how great our beef is. We need to shout this far and wide.

Grand Island Independent

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