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May is Beef Month in Nebraska


By Governor Pete Ricketts

May 7, 2018


Official photo here.


From graduations to Mother’s Day, the month of May has some great reasons to celebrate.  There is another celebration in May that is particularly significant for Nebraskans.  May is Beef Month in Nebraska, a time to recognize the state’s beef producers and celebrate the many ways Nebraska leads the nation in beef.


Nebraska is the “Beef State” because our beef producers are second-to-none in quality and lead the nation in market share.  Nebraska ranks number one in the nation in commercial red meat production and all cattle on feed.  And at 6.8 million head, Nebraska is second in the nation for all cattle and calves.  


With over 95 percent of the world’s population living beyond our borders, international trade is key to growing markets for our quality beef.  That is why I have made branding Nebraska beef internationally a big priority.  Over the last few years, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) and I have promoted Nebraska beef together in China twice and Japan twice.  Last year, China opened up its market to American beef for the first time in over a decade, and Nebraska already exports over 50 percent of all American beef to China.  Our work in Japan is also paying off: Nebraska’s exports of beef to Japan increased by 26 percent from 2016 to 2017.


China and Japan are just two examples.  When it comes to trade and exports, Nebraska takes the top spot, showing that Nebraska beef is being enjoyed by consumers around the world.  Here are a few key statistics:

  • Nebraska was the nation's top beef exporter in 2017, and the state has exceeded $1 billion in exports every year since 2014.
  • Nebraska beef has a total export value of $1.26 billion.
  • From 2016 to 2017, Nebraska beef exports were up 12 percent, showing tremendous growth and potential.  


Successes like these do not happen by accident.  They happen because Nebraskans work together and value the importance of agriculture and increasing opportunities for farmers and ranchers.  Trade is an essential part of growing Nebraska and continues to be a top priority for my administration and me.


I recently announced plans to lead a trade mission to Mexico this August with a focus on agriculture.  In 2016, total agricultural exports from Nebraska to Mexico equaled an estimated $956 million out of a total agriculture export value of $6.4 billion.  Mexico is Nebraska’s second largest ag export market and a major market for Nebraska beef, so we want to thank the people of Mexico for their business and grow more opportunities for Nebraska’s farm and ranch families.


NDA Director Steve Wellman will be joining me on this upcoming trade mission along with various ag producers.  Farmers and ranchers are the most effective people to tell the story of Nebraska agriculture and to show consumers and agribusiness leaders the quality ag products that our state has to offer.  Trade missions allow farmers and ranchers to share their personal experience in a meaningful way, building relationships that often translate to new opportunities.  Throughout this trip, we will promote and showcase Nebraska beef and other quality ag products as we continue to spread the good news about Nebraska agriculture.


By leading and participating in international trade missions, we will continue to strengthen existing relationships, grow these markets, and create more opportunities for Nebraska farmers and ranchers.  If you are interested in joining the trade delegation to Mexico, please contact Stan Garbacz at the Nebraska Department of Agriculture at


While May is Beef Month, it is something we can celebrate all year long.  Producers and their families work hard every day, caring for their animals and the land to provide great tasting beef for their families and for consumers at home and around the world.  Our farmers and ranchers are the original conservationists because they have been passing along the family farm or ranch to the next generation since before statehood.  Our people know the value of taking care of the land and their animals.  This tradition, along with Nebraska’s unique environmental characteristics, abundant water and feed resources, and our great beef genetics creates the best beef in the world.  


Our state’s productive farms and ranches and all of Nebraska’s top national rankings in beef and other ag products grow Nebraska by attracting new businesses, job opportunities, and investments.  If you have thoughts on how to grow opportunities for Nebraska’s farm and ranch families, contact my office at or 402-471-2244.