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Petersen touts export markets, looks ahead to session

ST PAUL — Thom Petersen, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, said it was a jam-packed week leading up to the Minnesota State Legislature reconvening for session Tuesday.

The commissioner said the department hosted visitors from Colombia and Taiwan to discuss trade relationships. The department of agriculture sees itself as “real ambassadors and connectors,” said Petersen.

“We’re lucky to be home to a lot of big agriculture companies in Minnesota, from Land O’ Lakes, General Mills or Hormel,” said Petersen. “So it’s really important for us, those relationships.”

He said that discussing delegations back and forth, and respective needs is crucial to keeping Minnesota’s ag economy stable.

“(Colombia and Taiwan) are both very interested in trading with us, and very friendly to the United States and to Minnesota in particular,” said Petersen.

Petersen said work around export market relationships has “really been heightened” this last year with the Chinese market cut so much.

“We’ve been really focused on growing our other markets, which we have done,” said Petersen. “After losing a big bucket in China, we went after some of our smaller buckets.”

Most of those smaller bucket countries like Taiwan and Colombia have a growing middle-class, said Petersen, which means they have more disposable income to buy protein.

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