For the past 10 days, a delegation of farmers and agribusiness leaders have been traveling with Indiana Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann in China. While the purpose of the mission is to foster trade with China for Indiana branded products, Ellspermann has also been able to tackle the difficult issue of biotechnology. She told HAT from Beijing on Wednesday that the delegation had the change to meet with senior Chinese ag officials and discuss the sensitive issue of biotech crops, “We met with senior Chinese Ag Ministry officials and were able to talk about that challenge in a very subtle but appropriate way. We talked about the importance of biotechnology and the great work that is being done in Indiana.” She added that representatives of Dow AgroSciences were with the delegation and that the pending approval by China of Enlist was discussed. “It is not our job to negotiate trade, but we can add to that collective voice that agriculture needs,” Ellspermann said.
On Thursday the delegation will participate in an international food trade show, where a number of Indiana food products will be on display. “These include Gutwein Popcorn, Husk, Bell Aquaculture, Brooks Candy, Burton’s Maplewood Farm, Clabber Girl, Crazy Charlie’s Salsa, Red Gold, Sechler’s Pickles, and many more,” said Ellsperman. A special cooking competition will take place featuring Indiana grown Maple Leaf Duck. A Chinese chef and US chef will compete in preparation of Peking Duck.
This is the second Indiana trade mission to Asia in the past 2 years. ISDA director Ted McKinney says they are seeing results, “We are seeing results from our first trip last year and even from this mission. Our delegates are making many positive contacts on products ranging from corn and soybeans, to hardwoods, to specialty-branded products. This trip has reinforced that, although at times challenging to access, the Chinese market is not one to take for granted — especially with the rapid emergence of the middle class who are demanding more protein. The U.S. ‘brand’ in food quality is very high, providing us with even more opportunity beyond the traditional and important commodity crops to find ways that are mutually beneficial to address this and other growing needs.”
A memorandum of understanding will also be signed on Thursday involving Indiana corn and soybeans.