The state’s number one industry was the centerpiece of the Nixon Administration’s recent trade mission to China, according to Missouri’s agriculture director. Now, Doctor Jon Hagler is considering how to build on that trip.
The journey took Hagler and other administration officials to places including Beijing and Shanghai, and Missouri’s sister province of Hebei. There, $4.6 billion in trade deals were signed. Hagler says $1.2 billion of that is directly tied to Missouri agriculture.
He wants to bring Chinese officials to Missouri, as the next step in building relationships. “Once they have the opportunity to see what we can do across a wide range of agricultural commodities and agribusinesses, they’re going to be very excited about expanding business opportunities here in Missouri.”
Hagler says in addition to soybeans and other products that nation has traditionally imported, there is interest in hardwoods, pork and wine.
As China’s agriculture sector is developing, there is also a growing need for improved veterinary care. Hagler sees Missouri’s developments in the field of animal vaccines, another export, as putting the state in position to take advantage.
There is also a clear appetite there for U.S. Beef, which has not been allowed in China since December 2003. Hagler says, “In fact some of our delegation was surprised to see when they went to restaurants in Shanghai and Beijing, right on the menu it says ‘American beef’…they certainly know the market value of American beef, they know the quality of American beef.” He expects U.S. beef, and particularly Missouri beef, will be allowed back into China at some point.
Another area of potential is in the horse industry. Last year about 2,500 horses went from Missouri to China. On the last day of the trade mission, he was at an equine show where various countries from around the globe were trying to sell to upper-middle class Chinese. Hagler himself is a breeder of the Missouri Fox Trotter, the state horse.