By Governor Pete Ricketts
August 7, 2017
The Governor’s official photo is available here.
This week, I am leading a trade mission to Canada. The importance of Canada as a trading partner that is helping grow Nebraska cannot be overstated. Canada is Nebraska’s largest export market and fourth largest agriculture export market. In 2016, total agricultural exports from Nebraska to Canada equaled an estimated $468 million out of a total agriculture export value of $5.4 billion. In addition to our important trade relationship, Nebraska and Canada are both celebrating our 150th birthdays this year, a special occasion which we will be highlighting along the way!
Our historic partnership is why I chose to lead what is quite possibly the first-ever, Governor–led Nebraska trade mission to Canada. Why travel to Canada when Nebraska already has such a great relationship? We cannot take our best customers for granted. Appreciation is one of the most important aspects of any partnership, so we are taking the time to thank our largest export market for their business while solidifying our current relationships with government officials and investors. This mission can also help open new doors and new opportunities for Nebraska ag producers and businesses looking to grow.
The timing of this trade mission is critical, as negotiations between the United States, Canada, and Mexico are set to begin on the modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NAFTA has been pivotal to growing Nebraska agriculture, our state’s number one industry. According to the USDA Economic Research Service, exports from Nebraska to free-trade agreement markets grew 104 percent from 2005 to 2015, with growth in NAFTA trade far outpacing our trade with other partners. As NAFTA negotiations have begun, Nebraska ag producers and I have been working together to showcase how critical this agreement is to the future of the farm families who help grow our state.
This week, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Economic Development, as well as ag producers will be joining the mission. During our visit we will share the story of Nebraska and the high quality commodities produced by our farm and ranch families with current and potential investors.
While in Canada, we will sit down for a roundtable discussion with the United States Consul General for Toronto, as well as a reception and meal featuring Nebraska beef that will be hosted by the Minister Counselor for Agricultural Affairs. Nebraska beef products are Nebraska’s number one agricultural export to Canada, totaling $138.2 million in 2015.
My cabinet directors and I will also have the opportunity to meet directly with the Minister of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs. This meeting will provide us an opportunity to share our thanks for the market access Nebraska products enjoy in Canada as well as a conversation about future growth opportunities.
Additionally, we plan to meet with the Canadian Pork Council and the Canadian Cattlemen Association at the U.S. Embassy. Pork is Nebraska’s third highest agricultural export to Canada, providing $61.3 million of exports. We look forward to sharing Nebraska’s beef and pork story with these two organizations.
During the trade mission, participants will also receive a number of briefings on trade issues. The Nebraska Department of Agriculture is hosting a workshop on the Safe Foods for Canadians Act. This workshop, which is also open to Canadian businesses, will allow for an open discussion about how the Act will change the way we export food products to Canada. During visits with the U.S. Consulate in Toronto and the US Embassy in Ottawa, the delegation will learn more about Canada’s economic and social structures and how those affect the Nebraska manufacturing and agricultural sectors.
Trade missions like these have allowed Nebraska to build on relationships that have been helping grow our state for 150 years. Nebraska has achieved great growth through trade over the years because of an ongoing commitment by our agriculture and business communities to raising Nebraska’s international profile. As work begins on modernizing NAFTA, it is more important than ever that we demonstrate our appreciation for our state’s largest customer, and this trade mission will help do just that. If you have any questions about the trade mission or any other matter, I hope you will contact my office by emailing email@example.com or calling 402-471-2244.