Trade mission seeks to re-establish Nebraska dry bean exports to Europe since Trump-era tariffs have ended

By: - July 5, 2022 4:42 pm

A farmer harvests a field of dry, edible beans in Nebraska’s Panhandle. (Courtesy of Gary Stone)

LINCOLN — Nebraska’s dry bean growers are hoping to re-establish trade with the European Union now that a Trump-era, retaliatory tariff on agricultural products has been dropped.

A week-long trade mission to Bulgaria just concluded, with the leader of the trip, Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen, expressing confidence that trade with the European nations in dry beans will be re-established.

Nebraska produces about 1 billion servings of dry beans a year, and had shipped $3.2 million worth of beans to the European Union in 2019 before those shipments ended due to a 25% tariff on agricultural commodities. That tariff was imposed by the EU in retaliation for tariffs on European airplanes and agricultural goods established by then President Donald Trump.

Biden seeks to ease trade wars

The Biden administration resolved that conflict last year, leading to the end of the tariff on dry beans — a tariff that had made Nebraska dry beans uncompetitive.

Lynn Reuter, executive director of the Scottsbluff-based Nebraska Dry Bean Commission, said Tuesday that Bulgaria in particular is a prime consumer of Great White Northern beans produced in southwest Nebraska and the Panhandle. 

“You can’t turn down any market the way the world market is now. You have to constantly be looking for new markets,” she said of the trade mission.

Evnen, in a press release, said that importers and processors the Nebraska trade group met in Bulgaria expressed an “immediate readiness” to establish trade for the state’s dry beans. 

Beans have $151 million impact

Nebraska’s center-pivot irrigation and beef industries were also represented on the trade mission, which was funded in large part by the USDA’s “emerging markets” program, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

Dry beans have a $151 million economic impact in the 20-county region of Nebraska where they grow, Reuter said. The state is the top producer of Great Northern beans in the United States and the No. 2 producer of pinto and light red kidney beans. she said.

Overall, Nebraska is the fourth largest producer of dry beans in the country.


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Paul Hammel
Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska Legislature and Nebraska state government for decades. He started his career reporting for the Omaha Sun and later, editing the Papillion Times group in suburban Omaha. He joined the Lincoln Journal-Star as a sports enterprise reporter, and then a roving reporter covering southeast Nebraska. In 1990, he was hired by the Omaha World-Herald as a legislative reporter. Later, for 15 years, he roamed the state covering all kinds of news and feature stories. In the past decade, he served as chief of the Lincoln Bureau and enterprise reporter. Paul has won awards for reporting from Great Plains Journalism, the Associated Press, Nebraska Newspaper Association and Suburban Newspapers of America. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation, a member of the Nebraska Hop Growers and a volunteer caretaker of Irvingdale Park in Lincoln.