NEBRASKA CITY – Nebraska Director of Agriculture Steve Wellman offered Rotarians Wednesday a positive outlook on livestock production in the state.
Wellman, who was working on his family’s pioneer farm near Syracuse seven months ago when Gov. Pete Ricketts appointed him to lead the department of agriculture, said Nebraska will do well to focus on livestock feeding.
Wellman: “We could have a unique system here in Nebraska with our farmers and ranchers and the environmental conditions, the Sandhills, and being able to produce livestock, produce the grain to feed the livestock, process that grain into feed and then process those animals, harvest and process and package the meat products for sale. Really, each step along the way, creates jobs, creates investment and bodes well for the entire state.”
The Costco facility could require 2 million chickens per week to meet demand at Costco stores and Wellman expects international demand to also rise with a growing middle class worldwide.
Wellman: “International exports really serve the needs of the consumer, so when the consumers’ disposable income increases they have an opportunity to buy a different protein source and one of the things they will look to is poultry products, and then pork and beef after that.”
He said tariffs can be a roadblock to international trade, but so can non-tariff barriers, such as China’s 14-year ban on U.S. beef imports.
China began accepting some U.S. beef products last June, but Wellman said details about the point-of-birth for calves and other requirements mean that trade door is only barely open.
Wellman: “It’s really all about market access. There are policy things that the Chinese government could implement that could open up access for Nebraska products in general.”
He said the governor’s agriculture trade mission this year will be to Mexico and Omaha will host the Midwest U.S. – Japan trade conference on its 50th anniversary.