Trade dispute impact

Independent/Carissa Soukup

On Tuesday the Nebraska Farm Bureau released a new analysis that estimates the ongoing retaliatory tariffs imposed by countries on U.S. agricultural exports will cost Nebraska producers $943 million in lost revenue in 2019.

It has not been the best of years for Nebraska’s agricultural industry.

Continued weather problems this year started with the harsh winter and March flooding that claimed an estimated 10% of the state’s calf crop.

Earlier this month, the USDA reported that because of heavy rains during planting season, there were 400,000 acres of cropland that were prevented from being planted in Nebraska. That included 332,065 acres of corn; 3,107 acres of sorghum; 69,914 acres of soybeans; 1,584 acres of wheat; and 852 acres of other crops.

On top of the weather difficulties, on Tuesday the Nebraska Farm Bureau released a new analysis that estimates the ongoing retaliatory tariffs imposed by countries on U.S. agricultural exports will cost Nebraska producers $943 million in lost revenue in 2019.

According to Jay Rempe, senior economist for the Nebraska Farm Bureau, the projected losses would be in addition to tariff-related losses in farm level income estimated between $695 million to $1.026 billion in 2018.

Rempe said Nebraska Farm Bureau conducted the analysis as a way to provide an assessment of losses independent of the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) assistance available to farmers to offset trade associated losses.

Between the tariffs and weather problems, Rempe said the convergence of these difficulties has created the “perfect storm” for Nebraska farmers, ranchers and agri-businesses.

Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president, said the analysis shows “just how critical it is that we resolve the prolonged trade conflicts that have created the tariff pressures.”

Rempe said the new analysis uses USDA data to estimate tariff-related losses on a statewide per-commodity basis, as well as estimate total commodity losses on a per-county basis.

He said the analysis shows that Nebraska soybean and corn growers will likely see the greatest cumulative losses. Soybean producers as a group are projected to lose out on nearly $589 million from retaliatory tariffs and corn producers are estimated to lose roughly $251 million.

“Pork producers are projected to see $40 million in losses, while sorghum and wheat growers will collectively experience losses in the mid-$20 million range,” Rempe said. “Alfalfa growers are estimated to experience $9 million in losses, while dairy producers will likely lose out on roughly $3 million and dry bean growers collectively will lose $2 million due to retaliatory tariffs.”

He said export losses of beef, hides and skins, ethanol and other byproducts of Nebraska’s processing industries were not included in the analysis, but according to Rempe, losses in those areas “would also impact producers’ bottom lines.”

“Counting tariff losses for beef, ethanol, and other byproducts could easily push Nebraska farmers and ranchers’ collective losses from trade tariffs over the $1 billion mark,” said Rempe.

According to the analysis, trade-related losses estimated on a county-by-county basis show that Cuming County is the most-impacted county with estimated trade losses exceeding $48 million. Custer, Dawson, and Lincoln counties followed with losses exceeding $32 million, while Platte County experienced losses of nearly $30 million.

“If you divide the total trade losses in Cuming County by population, we’re talking a loss of $5,300 per person,” Rempe said. “That’s substantial when you think about how those monies would be spent in a local community and subsequently flow into our economy.”

For area counties, the impacts were: Hall, $12.97 million; Adams, $16.84 million; Buffalo, $14.27 million; Greeley, $8.29 million; Hamilton, $11.83 million; Merrick, $10.31 million; Howard, $10.09 million; and Sherman, $5.97 million.

The analysis also looked at the overall impact of trade-associated losses to the state’s broader economy, projecting a total income loss to Nebraska’s economy of $1.16 billion due to retaliatory tariffs.

Nelson said the analysis shows how important trade is for Nebraska farmers, ranchers, rural communities and the state.

“It’s vital we eliminate trade barriers and secure trade deals that allow farmers and ranchers to work freely to capture, develop, and grow international markets,” he said.

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