Nebraskans step up as national leaders to give farmers and ranchers a voice

Governor's Ag Conference - Gov. Ricketts talks to ag leaders (NTV News)

Nebraska farmers and ranchers say trade is vital, and fear tariffs against Chinese steel could lead to a retaliation against American agriculture.

Nebraska farmers do have a voice.

“We contribute so much as a state to the national dialogue,” Gov. Pete Ricketts said, as he opened the state’s annual ag conference.

While the governor talks to the White House about ethanol and trade, Nebraska farmers and ranchers do the same, like soybean grower Jim Miller.

“When we talk to our international customers, they want to see and hear how we raise our crop, in a sustainable manner,” he said.

Miller figures he spent 100 days away from the farm last year as President of the U.S. Soybean Export Council. That includes four trips to China alone, while also racking up frequent flyer miles to D.C. and back, sharing why trade is so critical.

“It's a real major concern for us so we need to have our voices heard and one way to do that is to step up in a commodity association,” he said.

Dawson County cattle feeder Craig Uden just wrapped up a term as president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and is one of several national leaders to come from the cornhusker state.

“When you look at all the products we export, all the things we grow in the state of Nebraska. We're not a state of a lot of people, but we got a lot of products, we're very productive in this state so consequently we have to be involved in the marketing of our products and I think that's why you have so many people step up to the plate and get involved,” he said.

The beef industry did more than $7 billion in trade last year, praising the Trump administration on some efforts, while raising concerns about others.

Uden said, “All we can do now is stay vigilant with what we do.”

The latest is Pres. Trump’s talk of tariffs on Chinese steel. Soybean growers don’t want anything that disrupts business with their number one customer, as China buys about half of the soybean exports.

Jim Miller said it came up during talks he was part of in Beijing.

“They told us flat out, if the US filed section 301 trade adjustment against the Chinese products, it could cause retaliation against soybeans.”

Ag leaders say it’s a major commitment to serve on the national level, but worth it if they can improve conditions for Nebraska farmers and ranchers.

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