As 2020 approaches, many farmers across the state are breathing a collective sigh of relief as one of the most challenging years in recent memory is drawing to a close. Extreme weather throughout 2019, stagnant farm incomes, EPA’s waivers to oil refiners and trade disputes have led to a year of uncertainty for the agricultural industry. Fortunately, as 2019 wraps up, there have been positive movements on the trade front, which corn farmers are hopeful will lead to a productive 2020.
Late last week, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted in favor of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) paving the way for increased market access to two of the largest customers of Nebraska’s corn and corn-related products. In fact, total Nebraska ag exports to Canada and Mexico equate to $1.46 billion, with corn exports totaling over $402 million, ethanol at $96 million and distillers grains at $27 million.
“We’re glad the House was able to work in a bipartisan way to do what was good for American agriculture,” said David Bruntz, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board (NCB) and farmer from Friend. “We’ve been waiting for this agreement for a long time, so we’re looking forward to its rapid approval by the Senate in early-January.”
The NCB and the Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) are pleased with the ratification of the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement, which will take effect Jan. 1, 2020. Japan is the No. 2 buyer of U.S. corn, purchasing more than $2 billion in the most recent marketing year. The agreement reduces U.S. corn imports for all purposes to a zero-level tariff and includes a staged tariff reduction for U.S. ethanol and corn. U.S. feed and food corn, corn gluten feed and distillers grains will continue to receive duty-free market access.
Finally, Nebraska’s corn industry is encouraged by a potential trade agreement with China. The U.S. and China recently announced “Phase one” of an agreement that reduces some U.S. tariffs. In return, U.S. officials say China will purchase significantly more American agricultural products.
“The trade landscape has been perplexing for some time, but I think we’re beginning to see real progress,” said Dan Nerud, president of the NeCGA and farmer from Dorchester. “I’m hopeful recent agreements will all be positive for our ag industry in Nebraska and can also be used as templates for future agreements with other partners.”
NCB and NeCGA are thankful and appreciative for our state’s congressional delegation for their continued support of fair and free ag trade.