By Governor Dave Heineman
Dear Fellow Nebraskans:
As Nebraskans across the state are gathering with family and friends around the dinner table this week, it is important to remember our agricultural producers that helped provide the food that are a special part of our holidays and meals around the year.
Farmers and ranchers in our state are still harvesting in the fields. This year's corn and soybean harvest has been hampered with a cold and wet October. It means additional costs are needed to dry crops. For many livestock producers, profits have remained slim -- and in some cases elusive among beef, pork, dairy, and poultry sectors.
Yet there have been positive developments as more sunshine and drier conditions have helped producers get back into the fields recently. Reports indicate that crop yields are very good. Some farmers have even had record-setting yields.
There has also been very positive news from Taiwan, which has agreed to change some of its restrictions on U.S. beef, and China, where trade officials appear ready to resume imports of U.S. pork. These are two of Nebraska's strongest overseas export markets, which should provide reason for optimism among livestock producers.
Nebraska has built a strong reputation in all parts of the world as a reliable trading partner for agricultural commodities. That reputation is due in large part to the quality products produced in our state.
During the past two weeks, Nebraska Department of Agriculture officials have met with buyers from China, Hong Kong, Korea, and Italy during visits to Nebraska. The visits are part of continuing discussions on increasing purchases of Nebraska agricultural goods.
I had the chance to visit with Italian importers, where company representatives shared that Nebraska beef has the quality they want high-end restaurants and other food service operations. Their purchases of Nebraska beef have grown four-fold in the last six months, and they hope to increase sales using the beef produced in our state.
Working together, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and the Nebraska Beef Council have built the brand value of "Beef From Nebraska" in international markets. USDA Foreign Agricultural Service officials in Hong Kong and other overseas contacts report that foreign buyers for restaurants looking for U.S. beef are asking for beef from Nebraska. The reputation for quality products benefits our beef industry as well as the other commodities connected to Nebraska's beef industry
We hear similar messages about the quality of other Nebraska commodities and we will continue to work with our agricultural industry to create opportunities for Nebraska products to be served in countries around the world.
Our farmers and ranchers play a significant role in feeding families in Nebraska, across the country and around the world. I hope you'll join me in giving thanks for the bounty they provide.