FREMONT, Neb.- Farmers and ranchers are keeping an eye on a number of important issues in the new year.
One of the key issues right now in agriculture is trade. "Trade is vitally important to Nebraska agriculture," Nebraska Farm Bureau Senior Economist Jay Rempe said. "We export roughly about $6.5 billion in ag commodities each year, and that's roughly about 30% of annual cash receipts that farmers and ranchers receive. So, a big part of their paycheck every year comes through trade."
This year, farmers and ranchers are closely watching the negotiations with China, and there's a new agreement with Mexico and Canada that needs to be finalized through Congress. "Something that has just developed is, Japan is our largest beef market, and they are now a part of the CPTPP, which is a new trade agreement with several countries," Rempe said. "It provides some of our competitors access to the Japanese market with a better advantage, and so that's something we are watching."
Rempe says farmers are hoping to see some positive movement forward when it comes to trade negotiations. "Our farmers are resilient people. They understand there are some issues with some of these countries that need to be resolved, but I think they are wanting some results."
Property taxes is yet another issue that farmers and ranchers are concerned about in 2019. "If you look at what's happened over the last ten years, property taxes on average for all the counties in the state on agricultural land have gone up 50%, so they've more than doubled," Rempe said. "That hurts the bottom line, and causes some tough decisions to be made." Rempe says the good news is state senators are talking more about what to do when it comes to property tax relief. "I'm encouraged this year in that there are a lot more discussions going on behind the scenes where senators are trying to resolve their differences. I think they are starting to coalesce around some ideas, and hopefully we will see something happen this session."