Exports provide a vital financial contribution to America’s agricultural producers — on average, about a third of U.S. farm income. Half of our country’s annual soybean crop is sold abroad.
But while those global connections are now a familiar and central part of Nebraska’s agricultural sector, it wasn’t always this way. In trying to market products overseas, American agriculture long faced daunting obstacles abroad in the form of high tariffs and non-tariff barriers. It wasn’t until the late 20th century that many of those barriers finally came down through international negotiations.
The key American negotiator who achieved that breakthrough was Clayton Yeutter. A native of Eustis, Nebraska, Yeutter provided all-important leadership in “kicking down the doors when it came to agricultural trade,” Mike Johanns, a former Nebraska governor and U.S. secretary of agriculture, has said.
When Nebraska’s economy benefits from robust sales of corn and beef abroad, “we can thank Dr. Yeutter for that,” said Joseph Weber, an associate professor in the College of Journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Weber is the author of a new book, “Rhymes with Fighter: Clayton Yeutter, American Statesman,” published by the University of Nebraska Press.