There is no doubt Nebraska is an agricultural powerhouse. In 2019, despite our small size in population, Nebraska was the sixth largest agriculture exporter in the nation. Our state’s agriculture has a real impact on our nation and beyond. It should come as no surprise the Chief Agriculture Negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Gregg Doud, had an interest in seeing the remarkable process of agriculture up close.
This week, Governor Pete Ricketts and I had the privilege of touring several agricultural sites around the panhandle with Ambassador Doud so he could experience firsthand how our producers are faring and what more can be done. Ambassador Doud also recently attended my 2020 Agriculture Summit and I am thankful for his enthusiasm and his pragmatic approach toward negotiating fair trade agreements with our allies and partners.
Historically, while the U.S. has worked toward opening trade for the benefit of consumers and producers everywhere, we have faced an uphill battle with uneven playing fields, tariffs, and other non-tariff trade barriers. Fortunately, President Trump has been working tirelessly to break down these obstacles. The administration recognizes a thriving American agriculture sector must extend beyond the U.S. marketplace with access to international markets.
While Nebraska is known for products like corn, beef, and soybeans; western Nebraska is also a leader in other key products like dry edible beans and sugar beets. We annually produce more than 1 billion servings of dry beans and the equivalent of 440 million five pound bags of sugar beets. These products face unique trade challenges, which Ambassador Doud was able to experience firsthand. His visit included the beginning of dry bean harvest and operations as well as sugar beet harvest.
For my part in Congress and on the Ways and Means Committee, I am focused on identifying new opportunities for Nebraska agriculture. We received a recent win when Taiwan announced they will begin easing restrictions on U.S. beef and pork. This announcement is on top of last year’s preliminary trade deal with Japan and recent positive signs about China fulfilling its commitments to purchase U.S. ag products. Trade negotiations with partners such as the United Kingdom and Kenya are ongoing as well.
I was proud to showcase western Nebraska and am appreciative of the hard work done by Governor Ricketts and Ambassador Doud for our agriculture sector. Nebraska producers deserve allies in their corner, and I will continue to advocate for them at home and in Washington.