Tag Archives: Governor Ricketts

LINCOLN – On Tuesday, Sept. 24, Governor Pete Ricketts and representatives from Nebraska’s corn and soybean boards signed letters of intent (LOIs) with company officials from Taiwan.  The LOIs outline Taiwan’s agreement to purchase more than $2.1 billion in U.S. soybeans, corn, and distillers grains.  Members of the 2019 Taiwan Agricultural Trade Goodwill Mission visited Lincoln to show their continued willingness to buy U.S. agricultural products.

“The United States supplies more than one-quarter of Taiwan’s major agricultural imports, and Nebraska has been a key supplier to the country for decades,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “Signing these letters of intent builds on Nebraska’s existing trade relationship with Taiwan.  It also positions us to grow the market for our quality agricultural products in Taiwan.”

“Nebraska is one of the country’s top corn and soybean producing states, making it vital for us to continue to increase international demand for our products,” said Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Steve Wellman.  “Taiwanese officials have signed similar agreements in past years that have resulted in millions of dollars of purchases of Nebraska agricultural products.”

Two letters of intent were signed this week.  One outlines the Taiwan Feed Industry Association’s intent to purchase 197 million bushels of U.S. corn and 0.5 million metric tons of U.S. distillers grains with solubles in 2020 and 2021.  These products are valued at approximately $1.1 billion.  According to USDA’s Foreign Ag Service, in 2018, Taiwan was Nebraska’s fifth largest export market for corn.  Out of Nebraska’s total corn export value of nearly $1.5 billion for 2018, Nebraska sent $70.2 million worth of corn to Taiwan.  David Bruntz, Chair of the Nebraska Corn Board, was on hand Tuesday night to sign the letter of intent on behalf of Nebraska corn farmers.

A second letter outlines the Taiwan Vegetable Oil Manufacturers Association’s intent to purchase between 96 million and 97 million bushels of U.S. soybeans over the next two years.  That purchase represents an estimated value of $1.0 to $1.1 billion.  Eugene Goering, Vice Chair of the Nebraska Soybean Board, signed the letter of intent representing soybean farmers in the state.

Signed by commodity officials and Gov. Ricketts, these letters of intent pledge the purchase of crops through negotiations between importers and private suppliers.

“The signing of these agreements with our Taiwanese partners is of critical importance,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “The international marketplace is vital to growing opportunities for the quality commodities produced here in our state.  We will continue to work to open up new markets for the food our farm and ranch families grow to feed the world.”

LINCOLN – Recently, Governor Pete Ricketts submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Labor on pending changes to rules governing the Temporary Agricultural Employment of H-2A Nonimmigrants in the United States.

 

“Much of the seasonal farm work done for a seed company with fields in Nebraska is performed by a separate company (harvest company) that contracted with the seed company,” wrote Governor Ricketts in his comments.  “The seed company is the beneficiary of the work performed by the H-2A worker, but they are not the employer of the H-2A worker.  The contracted harvest company often comes in from other states.  The employer from out of state does not have the networking connections or known reputation to find available Nebraska workers.  Meanwhile, there are Nebraska harvest companies that have the workers available to perform the work.  In 2019, Nebraska detasseling (harvest) companies had 710 employees wait listed, but certifications were still granted for H-2A workers to perform detasseling.”

 

Recently, some companies have been using the H-2A program to hire outside labor to detassel seed corn while hundreds of Nebraskans ready to do the work remain on wait lists.  In his comments, Governor Ricketts recommends adding a new labor availability check to the H-2A program to protect the program’s integrity.  This additional verification would ensure that Nebraskans willing to detassel get the opportunity before companies bring in other labor.

 

“The State of Nebraska recommends that the petitioning harvest company be required to include with its petition a certification from the benefiting seed company that it solicited bids for the work and no bids were available that did not utilize H-2A workers,” wrote the Governor.

 

Each summer, more than 7,000 Nebraskans work as detasselers, performing indispensable seasonal labor for seed companies.  They rise early to work in the cornfields and spend long hours in the summer heat to ensure that the cross-pollinating process yields a pure seed.  For students and schoolteachers, detasseling is a welcome source of summer employment and a great way to earn income.  For many Nebraskans, detasseling is their first job and serves as a formative, character-building experience.  Detasselers learn the value of hard work, the importance of teamwork, and skills in leadership.  Detasseling also connects the residents of small towns and cities with Nebraska’s farmers, helping more Nebraskans build ties to the state’s #1 economic industry—agriculture.

 

Read the Governor’s full comments by clicking here.

HANOI, VIETNAM – This week, Governor Pete Ricketts is leading a trade mission to Vietnam and Japan to promote Nebraska’s quality ag products and to pitch Nebraska as a top destination for international investment.

The Governor and trade delegation began the mission today in Hanoi, Vietnam where they will meet with government officials, promote Nebraska beef and other ag products, and encourage Vietnamese businesses to invest in Nebraska.  Delegates on the mission include representatives from the Department of Agriculture (NDA), Department of Economic Development (DED), University of Nebraska, Nebraska Farm Bureau, major state and national commodity organizations, and ag businesses.

The day’s agenda included meetings with the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of Industry & Trade where Governor Ricketts and NDA Director Steve Wellman urged officials to work with the United States to expand trade and open new markets for Nebraska’s ag products.

The Governor and delegation concluded their day by hosting a business forum and dinner for representatives from Vietnamese companies.  At the events, Governor Ricketts highlighted Nebraska’s pro-growth climate, hardworking people, and central location.  Listeners also heard presentations from the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam, NDA, and DED.

This is Governor Ricketts’ fourth trade mission to Asia in the last five years.

Nebraska has a vibrant Vietnamese community, and Vietnamese is the third most spoken language in the state behind English and Spanish.  A full profile of Nebraska’s trade relationship with Vietnam can be found by clicking here.

Additional photos and video from the day can be found by clicking here.