Raising livestock has always been a part of life in Nebraska. Our ranchers have made beef Nebraska’s largest industry. In 2017, we exported $1.26 billion worth of beef, making Nebraska the largest beef exporting state in the country for two years in a row. We have topped a billion dollars in beef exports for four years running.
Our state is the national leader in all areas of beef production, from cow/calf to cattle on feed to processing, but beef isn’t the only area where Nebraska ranchers, and farmers, have found success. In 2017 Nebraska’s pork production totaled $479 million, making us the fifth largest exporter. Together, Nebraskans increased their total beef exports by 12 percent and pork exports by 20 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
While impressive, Nebraskans are eager to build on this success. Organizations such as the Nebraska Farm Bureau, the Department of Agriculture, and the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska have dedicated time and manpower to promote livestock production. This has included offering workshops and classes that help farmers investigate ways to expand into livestock production, as well as offering assistance with finance, permitting, fertilizer requirements, and water well placement.
Local and state leaders have done a great job helping our state expand its livestock production. I’m ready to work with them to help further the success of Nebraska ranchers. I am a strong voice for Nebraska on the Senate Agriculture Committee and excited to announce that I will be serving as the Chairman of the Livestock Subcommittee.
The Livestock subcommittee oversees a number of programs and policies relevant to our state’s livestock industry. This includes foreign trade and market development, domestic marketing programs, international commodity agreements and export controls, and livestock inspection and certification of meat.
I have firsthand knowledge about the importance of livestock to our state’s economy. I have been a Nebraska cattle rancher for over 40 years and worked with agriculture producers and rural and economic development groups all across our state. One of my first pieces of legislation in the Nebraska Legislature was to protect private information shared by livestock producers. I look forward to doing the same kind of work on the Senate Ag Committee.
In this vein, I’ve already begun drafting policy that will help our farmers and ranchers. I recently led a bipartisan group of senators to introduce the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act. This bill would protect farmers, ranchers, and livestock markets from burdensome EPA reporting requirements for animal waste emissions. The Farm Act gives an exemption for animal waste emissions at a farm from CERCLA reporting requirements. These requirements were never intended to affect animal agriculture. They were meant to address dangerous industrial pollution, chemical plant explosions, and the release of hazardous materials into the environment.
Nebraska agriculture producers should be able to concentrate on doing their job of feeding the world without being burdened by unnecessary red tape. Working together with Nebraskans, I am committed to promoting policies that will allow our ag producers to build on recent success. As a member of the Senate Ag Committee and chairman of the Livestock subcommittee, I’ll be focusing on doing what’s best for our livestock producers.
Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.