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Nebraska Farm Bureau estimates nearly $1 billion in revenue losses for farmers due to trade war

Trade is vital to Nebraska's agricultural industry
Posted at 7:03 PM, Sep 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-04 20:03:36-04

OMAHA, Neb. — It's been a tough year for farmers. Between the spring and summer floods and the trade war between the U.S. and China, the farming industry is feeling the pinch.

The Nebraska Farm Bureau estimates the loss of revenue for Nebraska farmers will be devastating. The bureau has ongoing efforts to monitor exactly how international trade disagreements affect the farmers.

"It is a large loss. What that represents is lost potential sales or revenues to farmers and ranchers in the state," Nebraska Farm Bureau senior economist Jay Rempe said.

They looked at lost exports, the money that would be going into Nebraska from sending our products to overseas markets, the loss is upwards of one billion dollars.

"There's some other commodities like beef, hides and skins, ethanol exports that we weren't able to do it for. So it could be even higher than that $943 million," Rempe said.

Trade is vital to Nebraska's agricultural industry, the disruption in the market throws off prices everywhere.

"Overall, crop prices are off a little bit, livestock, beef prices particularly we're a big beef state are off a little bit. Production I think is going to be down a little bit. So I would anticipate income levels for the state for farmers and ranchers are going to be off this year," Rempe said.

Just Good Meat is a local butcher shop in the Omaha area. They get all of their meats from farmers in the Midwest. With all of the tariffs and trade wars, they're not too sure what to expect.

"Kind of what we're hearing, a lot of the farmers that do a lot of exporting, higher quality beef that goes to Hong Kong or go to Japan or Korea and stuff, they're definitely feeling that hit," owner Sean Fuller said.

However, businesses like Just Good Meat may not see too much of a difference in price from suppliers. The prices may actually go down.

"These trade issues and things only mean that prices will come off on beef so your steaks and hamburgers at the store might be a little less expensive over the coming months," Rempe said.

"I think it's going to be something that we might start to see in November, December, maybe early next year. Some meat prices dropping if they can't figure out what to do," Fuller said.

At the end of the day, it's the farmers who will feel the repercussions the most.

"Pretty scary for them with an uncertain future with what's going on with tariffs," Fuller said.

Union Pacific says they expect to haul less freight, carrying grain and other goods, in the second half of the year. The smaller volume of freight that the railway company carries hints at less production from the farming industry and a weaker economy.