Governor stresses importance of trade, as farmers worry where grain will go

Gov. Pete Ricketts displays two Governor's Cups for economic development (NTV News)

With projections of a record crop, Nebraska farmers worry where all that grain will go.

“We're putting up 10 grain bins, calling those the tariff bins,” farmer Norm Krug said with a smile, trying to put a happy face to what has been a tough situation.

The popcorn company Krug runs finds itself storing grain, instead of shipping it to China.

“We're shipping a lot of containers there every week and that got shut off with an additional 25 percent tariff,” Krug said.

Krug said the popular movie snack has been slapped with tariffs in Europe and China.

Governor Pete Ricketts said farmers want trade, not aid, and says the state's leaders are speaking with one voice.

“Present a unified front to the rest of the world why Nebraska's great place to do business,” Ricketts said.

Krug added, “I think they're 100 percent united that trade is important for Nebraska farmers and they're working hard on that.”

Just this week, the governor says he spoke with the U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, encouraging him to make some trade deals before farmers bring in what's expected to be a record crop.

Ricketts said, “People might not be thinking about marketing their corn and beans. That's going to change as we get into the fall and we want to make sure we have some certainty for our farmers and ranchers.”

The governor faced questions about the farm economy, taxes, and school funding at a town hall in Central City.

In this largely agricultural community, he stressed the steps the state is taking on trade. It includes looking at the data about companies investing in the state, to shape policy.

In a few weeks, the governor heads to Mexico on a trade mission, hoping for a breakthrough on a new free trade deal.

“Mexico and Canada are our two biggest trading partners. We want to make sure that we're continuing to have market access there, we don't want to disrupt relationships that are so important,” he said.

And while tariffs have interrupted a farmer owned popcorn business, growers haven't given up hope, and have seen some buyers willing to pay tariffs to get their product.

Norm Krug said, “We're optimistic, as usual, as farmers. As producers in agriculture we've seen some good news already in that I think our partners in China determined that after researching things, it's worth paying the tariff.”

Krug says the American farmer can compete with anybody in the world when there's free trade.

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