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Ohio ag officials set trade trip to Central America
By CELESTE BAUMGARTNER
Ohio Correspondent

REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio — Ohio farmers, agribusiness owners and food processors interested in learning more about new trade opportunities in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic from the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) can do that.

Fred Dailey, director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, will lead the Nov. 11-16 trade mission. The goal is to promote new relationships and initiate trade between the two regions, said trip coordinator Jeanne Bartholomew.

“We’ll visit Costa Rica first and the Dominican Republic second,” she explained. “We have targeted beef or livestock farmers, and food processing companies as the most likely to make a sale on or after the trip once they’ve made contacts.

“There are others who are going along looking for business and then there are folks going along just for the education.” The mission offers two different tours. Farmers and others who want to learn more about CAFTA or about agriculture in the area may go on the farm tour.

“A good part of that is going to be targeted at beef farms but if we have others along we can tailor it so we can visit other types of farms also,” Bartholomew said. “We’ll have one full day of farm touring in Costa Rica and then we’ll visit processing facilities in the city.”

The group will put on two seminars for the local beef producers, who raise heat-tolerant cattle. The seminars will discuss the advantages of crossbreeding to improve the meat quality in the animal, Bartholomew said.

The other segment of the trade mission, for food processing companies and others will be able to stay closer to the cities - San Jose in Costa Rica and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. That tour will have one-on-one buyers’ missions.

“They’ll be able to see the city and visit markets in those cities,” Bartholomew said. “The advantage that food processing companies have is that both markets are different.”

Ohio has about 1,000 food-processing companies that can look on Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic as potential markets after the CAFTA agreement is enacted, Bartholomew said.

At the present time it is difficult to import to those countries because of high tariffs. Once CAFTA is enacted - the Dominican Republic has already ratified it and Costa Rica is expected to do that soon - that will change, Bartholomew said.

“The high prices the tariffs caused, will be going off, some of them immediately, some will be slowly reduced over the next five or so years,” Bartholomew said. “That means our food processors will have equal advantage with people who are selling into the market now. We’ll be on a more equal playing field.”

The tour is invited to two embassy receptions at the ambassador’s home. Elected officials, farmers, commodities, and those interested in agriculture from those countries will be invited.

“These are going to be very packed days,” Bartholomew said. “There are a lot of things to see and do and people to meet.”

For information or registration details, call Bartholomew at 614-466-5338 or e-mail jbartholomew@mail.agri.state.oh.us

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

9/13/2006