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Nebraska agriculture director to visit China

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 3, 2012 at 5:18 pm •  Published: December 3, 2012

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska's director of agriculture will travel to China this week to take part in a workshop that could lead to new investments in agriculture-product processing centers, Gov. Dave Heineman announced Monday.

Department of Agriculture director Greg Ibach will visit Beijing for the Friday event, designed to strengthen U.S.-China trade relations.

Heineman said Nebraska was the only U.S. state invited to present at the workshop, which is coordinated by the Paulson Institute. The institute, led by former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, focuses on economic and environmental issues.

Ibach said he will argue that Nebraska is best location in the Midwest for Chinese businesses to set up processing centers for food, bioenergy and other raw commodities. He said Nebraska is well-positioned because it sits on the western edge of the corn belt — closer to Pacific shipping routes that lead to China.

Ibach said he will talk about the state's history as a "reliable, efficient, large-scale producer of high-quality agricultural goods," as well as highlight the surge of new farming and ranching technology. Nebraska also remains committed to agriculture research and development through the University of Nebraska and private firms, he said.

And he said will emphasize the state government's strong interest in forging new trade relationships, plus Nebraska's work force that's available "from the farm gate to the finished product."

"I hope to have the opportunity to feature Nebraska and the benefits our state holds for this kind of investment and collaboration," Ibach said.

Other workshop participants will include representatives of Chinese and international companies and investment banks, national and state agricultural leaders and agribusiness consultants. The trip is part of Heineman's broader push to help Nebraska tap into lucrative Chinese markets.

A trade mission he led in July included several agreements between Nebraska and the Chinese government, including a "sister state" relationship between Nebraska and the Shaanxi Province and a new trade office in Shanghai. Heineman also agreed to work with a Chinese trade council to help connect Chinese and Nebraska businesses.