KEARNEY — Retaliation against U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs have cost Nebraska farmers up to $1.026 billion in lower commodity prices, while the state has seen additional labor income losses of up to $242 million.
Those findings are in a new report, “A Path Forward on Trade — Retaliatory Tariffs and Nebraska Agriculture” released Monday by Nebraska Farm Bureau Senior Economist Jay Rempe and Director of National Affairs Jordan Duxat at their annual meeting in Kearney.
Rempe put the total economic losses of $1.2 billion into perspective. He said every person in Nebraska would need to contribute $632 to cover the lost dollars.
“That’s a significant hit to our state’s economy,” he said.
“International trade is critical to agriculture,” said Steve Nelson of Axtell, Nebraska Farm Bureau President. “In most years, the value of agriculture exports will equal roughly 30 percent of the total agriculture commodity receipts of sales for the state of Nebraska.”
During his annual address to members earlier Monday, Nelson said, “There are plenty of competitors in the global market looking to displace American agriculture, and lost markets are difficult to recover. It can take years to do so, if it can be done at all.”
He added that international trade is the key to Nebraska agriculture’s future because 95 percent of the world’s population lives outside of the United States, with many having growing incomes and appetites for U.S. and Nebraska-grown food products.
“For Nebraska agriculture to be successful, we must develop new markets, lower trade barriers, encourage beneficial trade agreements and capitalize on new opportunities by building trust and being engaged in markets that matter,” Nelson said. “Unfortunately, few things create more uncertainty and downward price pressure in agriculture than trade disruption.”