Trade Missions Serve Critical Purpose

Nebraska Notebook

Exporting grain and livestock products important to Nebraska.

Published on: July 11, 2013

Nebraska fares well in the current trade environment, and Gov. Dave Heinemann, NDA and producers themselves have helped make it happen.

Nebraska's quality beef, for instance, is considered top-of-the line by consumers in regions like Japan, Korea and even the European Union, in spite of government roadblocks at times.

Here's a sampling of the trade mission announcements that have come across my desks involving trips abroad and so-called reverse trade missions where representatives of our overseas trade partners, including millers, processors, government leaders and farmers, come to the Nebraska to see how we raise and handle our commodities.

•Nebraska dry bean grower Cindi Allen of Ogallala this spring represented the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission on a USDA trade mission to Istanbul, Turkey. Turkey has become a major importer of dry beans, and Allen was there to learn about food needs and changing diets in that country.

•The U.S. Meat Export Federation is sponsor of a week-long mission to Japan that concluded July 13. Representatives of the Nebraska corn and beef industries were part of the group that helped MEF by promoting U.S. beef and had meetings with the U.S. Embassy staff, Japanese meat buyers and retailers. I had the opportunity two years ago to be a part of a similar mission, which also involved the gratifying experience of serving U.S. beef to survivors of the tsunami tragedy in northern Japan.

•A trade team representing Nigeria's largest milling and baking companies visited two Nebraska farms, grain elevators and UNL research labs earlier this summer. Nigeria is one of the world's largest importers of U.S. wheat.

•Last fall, a trade mission from the Philippines came to Nebraska, including the Gregg Fujan farm near Prague, to learn about U.S. soybean production and processing.

•Nebraska has had great success in Nebraska-sponsored missions to Cuba, missions that resulted in sales of U.S. commodities, including beef and dry beans.

•There have been plenty more examples of overseas market development over the years and many more to come.

Checkoff boards allocate large sums of money to U.S. trade organizations, including the U.S. Meat Export Federation and the U.S. Grains Council. Members of checkoff boards thus need to have the background and experience in how these organizations function and what they've accomplished in order to inform those who pay the checkoff fee that market development abroad is critical.