TORONTO, CANADA — This morning, Governor Pete Ricketts is kicking off his first trade mission to Canada, leading a Nebraska trade team on the state’s first official trade mission to the country.  During the five-day trade mission, delegates will meet with government, agricultural, and manufacturing officials in Toronto and Ottawa.

“As Nebraska’s largest export market and fourth largest agriculture export market, Canada is vitally important to the state,” said Governor Ricketts.  “Appreciation is a key component of any relationship.  During this mission, we are thanking our best customer for their current business, identifying ways to expand our positive trade relationship with Canada, and utilizing this opportunity to open new doors for Nebraska companies to grow their businesses.”

The Governor is leading the delegation along with Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Greg Ibach and Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) Director Courtney Dentlinger.  Representing the agricultural community are Mark McHargue, Nebraska Farm Bureau; Eric Kamler, Nebraska Corn Growers and Nebraska Corn Board; and Galen Frenzen, Nebraska Cattlemen Association.  Mindy Ruffalo, Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, will also accompany the delegation for part of the trip.

The Governor’s Office, NDA, DED, and Canadian officials developed the itinerary for the trade mission, which includes a U.S. Consulate briefing and meetings with the Ontario Ministry of International Trade as well as the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs.

Later in the week, delegates will participate in a roundtable discussion with the U.S. Consul General for Toronto, as well as attend a reception and meal hosted by the Minister Counselor for Agricultural Affairs.  The meal will feature Nebraska beef.

“In 2016, total agricultural exports from Nebraska to Canada equaled an estimated $468 million out of a total agriculture export value of $5.4 billion,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach.  “During this trip, we look forward to meeting with representatives from the Canadian Pork Council and the Canadian Cattlemen Association to share information about Nebraska’s quality beef and pork.”

Nebraska beef products are Nebraska’s number one agricultural export to Canada, totaling $138.2 million dollars in 2015.  Pork is Nebraska third highest agricultural export to Canada, with $61.3 million dollars of exports.

During visits with the U.S. Consulate in Toronto and the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, the delegation will learn more about Canada’s economic and social structures in an effort to understand how those affect the Nebraska manufacturing and agricultural sectors.

“Nebraska businesses have built strong relationships in Canada, and we have significant investment from Canadian companies in our state,” said DED Director Courtney Dentlinger.  “This mission allows us to express our thanks to our largest trading partner, and to promote additional opportunities to grow Nebraska’s economy.”

To help showcase how critical NAFTA is to Nebraska and our trading partners, Canadian and Nebraska business leaders will participate in a NAFTA Workshop to discuss and learn more about Canadian food regulations as we continue to export food products to the country, and the implications the Canadian Safe Food Act has for both Canadian and U.S. companies.

“International trade and engagement is a crucial part of our state’s long-term growth,” said Governor Ricketts.  “That’s why my administration is continuously pursuing new strategies for expanding international markets, attracting new investment, and building the state’s profile internationally.  We are committed to maintaining a competitive edge in a global economy.”