Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and China’s Minister of Agriculture Han Changfu signed a historic Plan of Strategic Cooperation that will guide the two countries’ agricultural relationship for the next five years. The plan was signed as part of the U.S.-China Agricultural Symposium held Feb. 16 at the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates. The symposium focused on bilateral cooperation in the areas of food safety, food security and sustainable agriculture, as well as enhanced business relationships between the two countries.

“This symposium and plan are a product of a vision I share with my dear old friend Minister Han for the U.S. and China to work more collaboratively in the future to benefit our nations and agriculture around the world,” Vilsack says.

“This plan builds on the already strong relationship our nations enjoy around agricultural science, trade and education. It looks to deepen our cooperation through technical exchange and to strengthen coordination in priority areas like animal and plant health and disease, food security, sustainable agriculture, genetic resources, agricultural markets and trade, and biotechnology and other emerging technologies,” he adds.

Xi Jinping, China's vice president, opened the symposium and stressed the importance China places on supporting farmers and rural development, as well as on food security.

“China attaches great importance to food security, and ensuring a sufficient food supply for 1.3 billion people,” Xi says.

In the 2011 fiscal year, China became the top market for U.S. agricultural goods, purchasing $20 billion in U.S. agricultural exports. The value of U.S. farm exports to China supported more than 160,000 American jobs in 2011, on and off the farm across a variety of sectors.