South Dakota ag officials to visit China this month

Dual trade missions are taking two South Dakota agriculture officials to China later this month.

South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Walt Bones will be part of Gov. Dennis Daugaard's trade delegation to China, and Lucas Lentsch, Director of Ag Development in the South Dakota Department of Agriculture, will be part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture trade mission to China.

"At no other time in the history of our country has food production been more in demand. With seven billion people in the world, demand is not going to diminish," Lentsch said. "Opening up trade conversations with the world's most populous country is a great opportunity for South Dakota's agricultural businesses."

The demand for protein, such as pork and whey, is increasing in China, and South Dakota is uniquely positioned to export those products.

The USDA trade mission will strengthen partnerships between U.S. and Chinese businesses and enhance job growth in the United States. The trade mission is expected to be USDA's largest to date, with representatives from more than 40 U.S. agribusinesses and six state departments of Agriculture accompanying USDA Acting Under Secretary Michael Scuse.

Scuse will lead the trade mission to China from March 23-28, beginning in Chengdu, one of the most important economic, transportation, and communication centers in western China and home of USDA's newest Agricultural Trade Office. Participants will then travel on to Shanghai, a hub of global commerce and the most populous city in the world.

The goal of the mission is to position U.S. participants to enter or expand their presence in China by getting firsthand market information, access to Chinese government decision makers and one-on-one meetings with business contacts, potential agents, distributers and importers.

China was South Dakota's third-largest trading partner last year, with $105 million worth of goods exported from South Dakota to China. South Dakota's exports to China have increased 200 percent in the last five years.

The North Dakota Trade Office is assisting South Dakota delegation with the trade mission.

"Working with our friends from North Dakota raises the profile for agricultural exports from this region," said Bones.

Agriculture is South Dakota's No. 1 industry, generating nearly $21 billion in annual economic activity and employing more than 80,000 South Dakotans.  The South Dakota Department of Agriculture's mission is to promote, protect, preserve and improve this industry for today and tomorrow.  Visit us online at http://sdda.sd.gov or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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