Wisconsin farmers and business owners are in China this week for a trade mission to promote Wisconsin agriculture, as well as dairy products and practices.
Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is leading the Wisconsin delegation, with DATCP secretary Ben Brancel. The trade mission is in Heilongjiang Province, which is Wisconsin’s sister state in China.
Ann Marie Ames, spokesperson for the DATCP, said the trade mission is an effort to develop relationships with Wisconsin’s trading partners in China. She said building these relationships help grow business for Wisconsin.
“International business is really all about relationships,” Ames said. “When you’re making that purchase from overseas, you really need to trust the person from which you are buying.”
Ames said China was ranked third for agricultural exports in 2014 from Wisconsin, behind Canada and Mexico. The total of Wisconsin agricultural exports to China in 2014 was $278 million, according to a statement from the DATCP.
On Monday, many members of the delegation were speaking at an international dairy forum, Ames said. The China World Dairy Expo and Summit begins Wednesday. At the expo, there is a U.S. pavilion of agricultural companies exhibiting their products. She said the vast majority of the U.S. pavilion are companies from Wisconsin.
Ames said more than 30 people are traveling with Brancel to China. One of the groups is Madison based J&P International, a company that works to export Wisconsin finished food products to China, as well as importing Chinese products to the United States, she said.
Guanming Shi, one of the owners of J&P International, said they plan to showcase Wisconsin agriculture to a growing market in China. Shi said they will be showing products such as ice cream, honey and wine.
Shi said this was J&P International’s first trade mission to China, but they plan to attend more in the future. After the trade mission ends, Shi said J&P International will stay in China for an additional three weeks to meet other businesses and customers.
Ames said the DATCP generally makes trade missions to China two to three times a year. While this trade mission is primarily dairy focused, she said they also have trade missions in China for processed food and other products.
Ames said they want people in China to turn to Wisconsin for information on agriculture and buying products.
“We want folks to know is that Wisconsin has a lot of experience in producing safe, quality dairy products,” Ames said. “We do a great job raising cattle, we have high quality cattle and we are a great place for them to buy products for their customers or to get information about how to improve their business.”