Over the recent state work period, I was able to travel our great state of Nebraska for two weeks. From Holdrege to Scottsbluff and Ainsworth to Norfolk, it was a busy and productive time spent with Nebraskans at meetings, roundtables, and businesses. During our many discussions, a common theme was Nebraska’s economic security.
During my time in The Good Life, I traveled to North Platte and visited the Walmart Distribution Center. I was impressed to learn that this facility ships to 92 stores nationwide, right from North Platte, Nebraska. I was pleased to welcome my friend and Senate Commerce Chairman, Senator John Thune of South Dakota to Nebraska. We stopped by Love Signs in Norfolk and talked to local and business officials at the Chamber of Commerce.
At these visits and discussions, we heard excitement about the benefits of the tax reform bill. Nebraskans are keeping more of their hard earned money in their pockets and businesses are investing.
For example, Cox Communications will provide bonuses up to $2,000 to employees who have worked there for at least a year. When I visited Pitney Bowes’ Omaha facility in March, I learned their company is investing more than $18 million to raise wages for the majority of their U.S. hourly employees.
When it comes to Nebraska’s economy, agriculture is a major driver. That’s why I am very concerned about China’s proposed list of retaliatory tariffs, which targets soybeans, corn, sorghum, beef, and pork. After hearing this troubling news, I immediately reached out to the administration. I spoke directly to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short to emphasize the significant market loss Nebraska producers would face should these tariffs be finalized. Such action would not only hurt ag producers; it would hit our entire state because agriculture is the economic engine of Nebraska.
I also hosted USDA Under Secretary for Trade Ted McKinney and Nebraska agribusiness leaders for a roundtable at Greater Omaha Packing. We had a productive discussion. The tariffs have not gone into effect yet, and I believe there’s still time to negotiate a positive outcome for our producers. When I return to Washington, I plan to meet with President Trump to discuss Nebraska’s perspective on trade and the Chinese retaliation.
Another item that frequently came up while on the road was the upcoming farm bill. In McCook, I hosted an ag roundtable with local producers to talk priorities for the upcoming legislation. I hold a number of these roundtables and it is always good to hear straight from producers about the issues they face. Among the topics discussed was the need to ensure a strong safety net, including crop insurance and commodity programs that help producers manage risk. Additionally, trade promotion programs like the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Program were also discussed. These are important tools that enable ag producers to leverage dollars to access new markets, and I strongly support them. They are especially important programs given the current state of the farm economy.
I’m energized and encouraged by my conversations with the people of our state. Nebraskans are engaged and informed about the issues that matter to them. Working together, we have accomplished a lot for our state and its people. But there’s more work to do. I look forward to taking the insight I heard back to Washington where I will continue to be a strong voice for you and achieve positive results for Nebraska.
Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.