As the No. 1 beef producer in the nation, Nebraskans have the opportunity to enjoy an abundance of delicious hamburgers, sizzling steaks and other fresh beef products raised in their backyard.
And increasingly, folks from around the world are asking for that same opportunity. Nebraska beef is marketed and sold in countries near and far, and the list of those vying for the product is steadily growing.
Currently, the state’s top four export markets include Canada, Korea, Japan and Mexico, with Nebraska beef even making an appearance at Hong Kong Disneyland. Chile and the United Arab Emirates have recently become part of the mix, and the Nebraska Department of Agriculture says they are always working to develop new foreign markets.
Beef exports account for more than $740 million in annual sales for the state, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that Nebraska will soon pass $1 billion in annual beef exports. The state is generally ranked fifth in the nation in total agricultural exports and second in live animals and meat exports.
But how do Nebraska beef exports to places like Japan affect consumers here in the state? The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that for every $1 in international exports, $1.34 is generated in economic activity.
This includes things such as warehousing, transportation and more. Thanks to those consumers overseas, more Nebraskans with off-farm jobs are supported economically.
“Thirty percent of our company’s meat products are now exported,” says Angelo Fili, executive vice president of Greater Omaha Packing Co. “The direct support industries and all of the economic spin-off dollars, from pallet makers to women’s clothing boutiques, are a trickle down of the dollars drawn to the state from having a strong agricultural presence internationally,” he says.
Fili also explains that Nebraska’s exports and strong agricultural backbone help insulate the state from the full effect of any downturn of the nation’s overall economy, due to the fact that food is not an optional life item.
“Really, all service industries are equally covered under the same agriculture related umbrella in Nebraska,” he says.