Vilsack plans to talk beef in China fruits and vegetables in China
December 20, 2013
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack plans to talk to Chinese officials about beef exports and biotechnology issues on a trip to China this week, he told The Red River Farm Network in an interview transcribed by Farm Policy.
Vilsack noted that the trip is an annual one under the banner of the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade.
"I look forward to meeting with my Chinese counterparts to discuss a couple of issues that we've been discussing for quite some time," Vilsack said. "Greater access to China's market for our beef producers, ways in which we can better synchronize our regulatory processes so that biotechnology and the new opportunities that it can create can benefit not just our producers, but also Chinese producers."
He noted that the Chinese "are taking an extraordinary amount of time to make regulatory decisions" and that has resulted in uncertainty in the corn and fruit and vegetable markets.
"These are always tough negotiations," he said.
"The Chinese are not easy to negotiate with, but they are our Number One customer right now, and have been for the last couple years, and they are a principal reason why we've experienced the five best years in agricultural trade in the history of the country and why we had a record last year, and hope to have a very, very good year this year."
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On the issue of Chinese rejection of corn shipments due to the presence of an unapproved biotech trait, Vilsack said, "I'll have a better understanding after I see folks eye-to-eye and they have to explain why the sudden change."
"The reality is that the agricultural event, the biotechnology event that's in question, has been on the books, if you will, and before the regulators for almost two years. They've had plenty of time to basically OK this particular event."
"Argentina and Brazil have also been engaged in growing this and using this technology. It's been approved in the United States for some time. So this is not a new issue. It's not an issue that should catch anybody by surprise. But it is causing a lot of concern."
He added that the problems in China are signal that the United States needs to market to other countries and that the country needs the trade programs in the new farm bill.
–the Hagstrom Report