Gov. Dave Heineman today announced trade visits to eastern Asia that will build upon previous work in the region on agricultural exports and educational collaboration.
"I am a strong supporter of expanded trade," Gov. Heineman said. "Today's announcement represents an important continuation of our trade efforts. Taiwan and Hong Kong are both very important markets for the state of Nebraska. They have been good customers, and it is critical that we continue to explore new opportunities with them."
Lt. Governor Rick Sheehy will lead a small delegation to Taiwan and Hong Kong Aug. 9-17, while Nebraska Agriculture Director Greg Ibach will lead the trip when the group travels to Beijing, China, Aug. 18-20.
In addition to Lt. Gov. Sheehy and Director Ibach, members of the delegation include: University of Nebraska Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources Ronnie Green, University of Nebraska -- Lincoln (UNL) Animal Science Professor Chris Calkins, Pilger cattleman J.D. Alexander, and Department of Agriculture Trade Representative Stan Garbacz.
Governor Heineman led a successful trade mission to the region in 2007, and last year a Nebraska trade delegation returned from Taiwan with signed agreements with Taiwanese representatives for an estimated $500 million in corn, soybeans and wheat exports.
"Nebraska is a critical player in the global marketplace," Lt. Gov. Sheehy said. "We must continue to build relationships that lead to results for our farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses. With Hong Kong as one of the largest ports in the world, it's a valuable opportunity to continue to pursue our trade mission efforts."
In 2010 Hong Kong was Nebraska's sixth largest agricultural trade partner, and Taiwan was the state's seventh largest.
Lt. Gov. Sheehy will be accompanied in Taiwan by Stan Garbacz, the agricultural trade representative for the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. They will visit representatives of Taiwanese organizations who signed a letter of intent last year for the purchase of corn, soybeans and wheat, valued at approximately $500 million. The agreement was to be carried out over two years.
"We will review the status of that agreement and discuss any new opportunities for the sale of commodities and potentially value-added agricultural goods," the Lt. Gov. Sheehy said.
Lt. Gov. Sheehy and Garbacz will meet with Taiwanese government leaders representing the ministries of agriculture, commerce and health to discuss trade issues related to beef exports.
The remainder of the delegation will join the Lt. Gov. Sheehy and Garbacz in Hong Kong. The group will participate in several beef promotions, including helping host a reception that will feature Nebraska beef and pork. Invited guests will include representatives of Hong Kong government agencies responsible for import protocols and food sector representatives.
Vice President Green, who serves as UNL Vice Chancellor overseeing the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR), will engage in discussions with Chinese higher education leaders, with the goal to develop relationships that lead to educational exchanges and other collaborations.
Director Ibach will lead the delegation in Beijing, China, where the focus will be on dry edible bean export development. Nebraska Department of Agriculture, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission are partnering with the United States Department of Agriculture and the Chinese Institute of Food Science and Technology will host a one-day conference exploring the use of dry edible beans in the Chinese diet.
Director Ibach said Nebraska Department of Agriculture and the Dry Bean Commission have been exploring with Chinese government officials over the past year ways to incorporate more protein into Chinese diets through the use of dry edible beans.
"Previous discussions have helped us crack the door of the Chinese marketplace," Director Ibach said. "Now we just need to open it. The potential in China for dry edible beans is huge."