International trade and foreign markets are critical to Nebraska agriculture. To get a sense of which Nebraska counties are most reliant on international trade, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture has created a map showing export values by county for select commodities (see below). Commodities included are beef and beef products, corn, dairy products, distillers grains, ethanol, pork and pork products, pulses, sorghum, soybeans and soybean products and wheat. The map was created using 2015 Nebraska cash receipts data and attributing shares to counties based on county production data. Platte County topped the state with export values of $245 million. Custer, Holt, Boone and Cuming Counties fall in the next tier with export values between $125-$150 million. Most counties in Nebraska generate at least $25 million in export values, which no doubt contributes significantly to their local economies.
The top counties stand to gain the most from increased access to foreign markets. Free trade agreements with Mexico, Canada, Korea, Colombia and others, while benefitting all counties, have been particularly beneficial to these counties. An analysis last year of the benefits of the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) by Nebraska Farm Bureau showed many of these same counties would have benefited from the $378 million in increased receipts Nebraska was projected to receive under the agreement. The map clearly demonstrates it is in the interest of Nebraska agriculture to continue to press for more open international markets in agricultural products.
Jay Rempe is the senior economist for Nebraska Farm Bureau. Rempe’s background in agricultural economics, years of experience in advocating at the state capitol, and firm grasp of issues allow him to quantify the fiscal impact of a regulatory proposal, and provide in-depth examination of key issues affecting Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers.