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Beef deal benefits Nebraska corn crop

By Amy He in Lincoln, Nebraska | China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-18 11:06

As US beef exports to China resume, Nebraska, the No 1 exporter of beef and beef products in the US, is optimistic that its biggest crop export-corn-also will benefit.

The state suffered a huge blow in 2014 when China banned genetically modified corn from the United States. Before that, the state was shipping millions of metric tons of corn to the country, but that dropped to between 150,000 and 200,000 tons last year.

About 95 percent to 97 percent of corn produced in Nebraska is genetically modified, but most of it consists of varieties that are now approved in China and other markets, said Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director at the Nebraska Corn Board.

"When we talk about corn, we look at corn in all forms. It may be raw product corn or it may be the value-added beef industry," Brunkhorst said.

"Nebraska's blessed with being the No 1 cattle-on-feed state, and having that strong beef industry" is a "fantastic opportunity to move corn as a value-added product into China, along with building upon what that means for corn in raw form," he said.

The first shipment of US beef to China left Omaha, Nebraska, on June 14, on a flight to customers in Shanghai. More than 6 million cattle in Nebraska feed on corn and corn byproducts. Cattle feed is composed of roughage, raw corn, corn sweetener byproduct, and ethanol byproduct, also known as distillers grains.

Corn and beef work in tandem with each other, said Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts.

"One of the benefits we have here is what we call a 'golden triangle' between the corn that we produce, our ethanol plants-which create fuel, and in fact Nebraska supplies about 1.5 percent of the overall liquid fuel supply for the United States-and a byproduct of that ethanol process, the distillers grains that then go into feeding our cattle," he told China Daily in an interview.

"That's a great synergistic way we leverage our corn and add value to our commodities we produce here, to help create the best products in the world," he said.

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