Minnesota agriculture officials will host a trade delegation from China. The China Soybean Purchase Agreement Delegation comprises 24 members from China’s government and private industry and is visiting Minnesota as their first stop on a four-day soybean industry tour. Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson will welcome the delegation Wednesday, Jan. 19, in St. Paul. The mission coincides with President Hu Jintao’s visit with President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C.

The delegation is visiting the U.S. to reinforce bilateral trade between the two nations by signing a purchase agreement for U.S. soybeans. In 2008, a similar delegation visit resulted in a purchase agreement totaling $4.5 billion.

“China is an important trading partner for Minnesota’s soybean shippers,” says Commissioner Frederickson.  “Approximately 25% of Minnesota’s soybean exports are sent to China.”

China is the world’s largest export market for U.S. soybeans, importing over $5 billion in marketing year 2009-2010 that would have added $446 million to Minnesota soybean producers’ bottom line. Soybean consumption growth in China is expected to reach 30% by 2014, while, according to the Foreign Agriculture Service, production growth is expected to be about 5% in marketing year 2010-2011.

“Minnesota soybean farmers are honored to meet with these important customers from China,” says Michael O’Leary, a Danvers, MN, farmer who chairs the International Marketing Committee for the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council (MSR&PC). “Good working relationships with international customers help increase demand for our Minnesota soybeans and meat products.”

Organized in cooperation with the MSR&PC and the U.S. Soybean Export Council, the Chinese delegates will visit with soybean researchers at the University of Minnesota and the CHS headquarters in Inver Grove Heights. Commissioner Frederickson will address the group at a luncheon hosted by the Department of Agriculture. The delegation will then visit Illinois where the purchase agreement signing is scheduled to occur at the Commodities Mercantile Exchange on Jan. 20-21.