General Export Requirements     

For agricultural producers or agribusinesses, becoming involved with exports can seem like a complicated task, but it doesn’t have to be. The main difference between selling your product domestically versus internationally comes down to the amount of paperwork involved. This involves conforming to the laws of not just one, but two countries. Though the process of complying with all of these rules and regulations may seem daunting, there are numerous resources and services to assist you with exporting.

For many first time exporters, an excellent first stop is the Food Export-Midwest. The Nebraska Department of Agriculture is a member of this non-profit organization that is dedicated to growing exports of value-added food and agricultural products. Food Export-Midwest provides programs and services to assist in every aspect of exporting, regardless if you’re a first time exporter or have been exporting for years.

Most exporters of agricultural products utilize the services of a freight forwarder. These businesses act as a go-between with the exporter and importer. They are familiar with the rules and regulations of exporting and provide valuable assistance with the necessary paperwork. Furthermore, freight forwarders can provide quotes on total costs of exporting and advice on what price to quote your customer. A list of freight forwarders in Nebraska can be found here.

As for required documentation, a very common document for agricultural exports is the food export certificate. This is a document that attests to the general attributes of a product, such as safety, production, packing, labeling, etc., and the food is intended for export. In Nebraska, food export certificates are also referred to as Certificates of Free Sale and NDA can issue these certificates. Those interested in applying for a certificate can contact Mary Jackson at 402-471-2341 or

The U.S. Department of Commerce requires all exports to be logged electronically using their Automated Export System (AES). AES has recently replaced paper filing of Shipper’s Export Declarations. This records the type and value of the cargo and is utilized to compile trade statistics and monitor exports. The Census Bureau has easy-to-understand videos explaining the process and can be contacted at 800-549-0595.

For a comprehensive review of the agricultural exporting process, please review USDA’s Agricultural Export Transportation Handbook and their Exporting High Value U.S. Agricultural Products guide. The Agricultural Export Transportation Handbook not only includes detailed descriptions of the different types of documentation, but samples of each piece of documentation as well.

General export questions also can be answered by the NDA’s Trade Office at 800-831-0550.