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Indiana ag officials plan trade mission
Farm World Editor

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Indiana Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman hopes to build on existing trade relationships with Taiwan and create new opportunities in Vietnam during a trip to Southeast Asia with Indiana farm and business leaders later this month.

According to the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA), the Taiwan-Vietnam Agricultural Trade Mission delegation includes a range of food and agricultural companies. The delegation will depart from Indianapolis on Sept. 30, spending three days in Taiwan and two days in Vietnam.

The objective of the mission is to connect delegates with specific business leaders in each country - such as retailers, wholesalers, restaurant chains and other importers. The delegation also will receive briefings by U.S. embassy staff in each country, and some government and policy meetings are scheduled.

Skillman, along with ISDA Director Andy Miller and ISDA Deputy Director Beth Bechdol, will lead the delegation.

“Indiana has hosted two Taiwanese delegations of food and agricultural leaders in just the last year. We are returning to that country to pursue leads from those visits and the Governor’s trade mission,” Skillman said.

“We have much to learn about food and agricultural production as well as market opportunities in Vietnam. I am confident that our visit to this emerging market will yield many future benefits.”

Miller has also represented Indiana agriculture in missions to Japan and Central America.

“From our previous agricultural trade missions, we have seen the greatest interest in Indiana’s hardwood, pork, soybean and corn sectors,” Miller said. “We also see opportunities for many diversified and value-added products. Our delegation will focus on these key areas.”

Skillman said Indiana’s corn and soybean growers already conduct more than $150 million in trade with Taiwan. Chris Novak, who serves the dual role of executive director of the Indiana Soybean Board and the Indiana Corn Marketing Council, will travel on this mission. Indiana Soybean Growers Assoc. President Lynn Teel is also planning to attend.

“With Taiwan, we have a well-established relationship,” Skillman explained. “We hosted a group of Taiwanese businessmen in May who were on a food buyers mission to Chicago at the time. They usually visit a neighboring state when they come to visit, and they came to talk to us. We think we’ll be able to build on that for Indiana agriculture.”

She said Taiwan also has an interest in Indiana hardwoods, pork and wine.

Vietnam; however, hasn’t been actively pursued by many U.S. state governments. Skillman said the only states to visit Vietnam have been Washington and Texas.

“Vietnam is a newer venture for us,” she said. “We’ve heard that the Vietnamese place a high value on quality, and that should bode well for our Indiana producers.”

Four state lawmakers will represent Indiana on this trip: Sen. Beverly Gard (R-Greenfield), Sen. Allie V. Craycraft Jr. (D-Selma), Rep. Terry Goodin (D-Crothersville) and Rep. Bill Friend (R-Macy). Skillman is a believer in these types of trade missions.

“In 2005, imports grew at a rate of 11 percent above the year before,” she said.

“We believe trade missions work. They work with follow-up visits like these. With 96 percent of the world’s population outside the U.S. borders, we need to find other markets for our goods.”

This farm news was published in the Sept. 13, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.