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Farmers encourage Pres. Trump to start negotiating new trade deals

When President Trump talks trade…

“It makes us kind of nervous,” corn farmer Dave Merrell of St. Paul said.

Nebraska farmers see missed opportunity.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership could have brought millions to the state. But growers like Dave Merrell are holding Pres. Trump to his word that he’ll negotiate better deals.

He said, “I'm being optimistic that Pres. Trump can get some things done.”

But the president has other priorities like health care, and key positions like Secretary of Agriculture and U.S. Trade Representative are still waiting to be confirmed.

At the annual Governor’s Ag Conference in Kearney, Gov. Pete Ricketts said, “We have to get rolling on this, if we do bilateral trade agreements, that's a legitimate new strategy for how we can get better deals, but we have to get moving.”

Bilateral deals are one on one agreements with other countries. That appears to be Pres. Trump’s focus, instead of massive deals like the 12 country TPP.

Steve Censky, CEO of the American Soybean Association said, “With these bilateral agreements, starting first with Japan where we saw the biggest opportunities moving on to other countries like Vietnam.”

If that happens, farmers say it could have better results than TPP would have brought.

But they worry the president’s push to create manufacturing jobs will come at the expense of agriculture.

Dave Merrell, President of the Nebraska Corn Board said, “I'm really afraid our trade in agriculture's going to suffer at hands of increased trade for other industrial things.”

The head of the American Soybean Association says President Trump’s approach could result in “so much winning” as the president likes to say.

But with so many unknowns, feelings remain mixed.

Censky summed it up, “Anxiety, uncertainty, but also a case for optimism.”

One of the big focuses of the Governor’s Ag Conference was branding, and efforts to make Nebraska beef in particular, seen as the best in the world.

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