Itâ€™s good for cattle, good for corn, and good for Nebraska. Thatâ€™s how Nebraska Corn Board members reacted to the news that Japan and the U.S. have agreed on a framework to re-open beef trade and the ban on U.S. beef.
Bart Beattie of Sumner, a farmer and director on the Nebraska Corn Board, says the Japanese market is very important to Nebraska cattle producers - and in turn, Nebraska corn farmers.
"The cattle industry is the number one customer for the corn we grow, and this should be a nice shot in the arm for cattle producers," Beattie says. "Anything that contributes to a healthier livestock industry in Nebraska is good for corn producers, too. As we continue our efforts to expand livestock production in Nebraska, the resolution of the Japanese situation will surely help."
Don Hutchens, executive director of the board, hopes that the issues between the U.S. and Japan will stay resolved. "Now that we have agreement on the steps to be taken to re-enter the Japanese market, we need to make sure we comply with and meet those framework requirements; that means everyone from the ranch, feed mill, packer and government inspector," says Hutchens.
"While we have been out of the Japanese market, countries like Australia, New Zealand and Canada have scooped up our customer base. It wonâ€™t be easy to win it back, but the Nebraska Corn Board will continue to work with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Meat Export Federation to ensure a strong presence for Nebraska beef in the Japanese market."
If there was ever a time to have a strong cattle industry in Nebraska, that time is now, according to Beattie
"With the incredible expansion of the state's ethanol industry, we are looking at rapidly-growing supplies of the ethanol co-product, distillers grains," he says. "Growth in the livestock sector will be vital to maintaining strong demand for the distillers grains. The synergy between corn, cattle and ethanol is a big advantage for Nebraska and itâ€™s time to capitalize on it."
In addition to growing corn, Beattie also raises hogs. He says that pork exports to Japan and other Asian countries have been strong in recent years, which has put a solid foundation under hog prices. He predicts a similar scenario for Nebraska beef exports to Japan.
â€œIt may take some time, but Iâ€™m convinced the Japanese consumer will come back to the great taste of Nebraska corn-fed beef. Thereâ€™s nothing like it anywhere else in the world.â€
The Nebraska Corn Board collects and disburses the funds generated by the 1/4 of a cent per bushel corn checkoff. Nebraska corn checkoff funds are invested in programs of market development, research and education.