Today, Governor Dayton will lead a delegation on a ten-day trade mission to China, traveling to Beijing, Shanghai and Xian (the capital of Shaanxi Province) for market and industry briefings, business match-making events, networking events and meetings with key U.S. and Chinese government officials. The 50-member group of business, industry, education and government leaders will attend market and industry briefings, networking events, and meetings with key U.S. and Chinese officials.
The delegation will also host multiple receptions for top Chinese government officials and business executives to showcase Minnesota companies and export industries, as well as promote the state as an ideal destination for direct investment by China. Minnesota has had an official relationship with China since signing the sister-state agreement with Shaanxi Province in 1982.
As the trip unfolds, the Governor’s office will be covering the delegation in a special blog series that explores how trade missions foster new relationships via commerce, agriculture, trade, and the environment. You can get daily updates on the delegation by signing up for our e-mail list, checking back on the blog, or following Governor Dayton on Twitter and Facebook. We will showcase highlights of the delegation, highlight our sister-province relationship, and post photos of the Governor’s meetings across the state. We hope that you will travel along with us as the Minnesota delegation embarks on its trade mission across China.
Governor Dayton and his administration are always looking for ways to help farms and businesses prosper in Minnesota. One of the simple but really effective tools the Minnesota Department of Agriculture makes available is a Directory of Minnesota Organic Farms.
It’s clear that organic food has gone beyond fad to a mainstream choice for many consumers, and we want to help Minnesota’s organic farms and food companies capitalize on this interest. Organic food (and even organic feed for animals) must contain organic ingredients and here in Minnesota we grow a lot of these ingredients. Our 700+ organic farms raise organic corn, wheat, oats, barley, rye, flax, soybeans, sunflowers, milk, eggs, beef, eggs, chickens, fruits and vegetables, and just about anything else you can think of. To make it easier for Minnesota’s organic food companies to use organic ingredients in their products, the Directory of Minnesota Organic Farms was created. It lists farmers who sell in quantity to “intermediate buyers” such as food companies, restaurants, grocery stores, brokers, etc. The buyers can look up the farmer by product (“blue corn” for example), or by county, if they are looking for farmers close to their manufacturing facility or store. The directory is available in print and online at www.mda.state.mn.us/organic
Governor Dayton has proclaimed this week, May 20-26, to be Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week in Minnesota. Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is an invasive species of insect that has killed millions of ash trees in North America. It is not native to the U.S., but was discovered in Michigan in 2002; in 2009, the first Minnesota case of EAB was found in Ramsey County. It has since been found in the counties of Houston, Hennepin, and Winona.
The biggest risk of spreading EAB comes from people moving firewood or other ash tree products with EAB or EAB larvae inside. In order to help prevent the spread of EAB throughout Minnesota and beyond, you should try to use only local firewood, and you should avoid transporting firewood if possible. In order to prevent the spread of this destructive species, the Department of Agriculture has prohibited the movement of ash trees, ash limbs and branches, ash logs or untreated ash lumber with bark attached, firewood from hardwood trees, and uncomposted wood chips and ash bark chips greater than one inch in two of three dimensions from the affected counties. More tips on preventing the spread of EAB can be found at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture website.
You should also watch for signs that ash trees on your property are infested: heavy woodpecker activity, S-shaped tunnels under the bark, dead branches in the top canopy of the tree, and D-shaped exit holes approximately 1/8 inch in diameter are all signs of EAB presence in a tree. If you suspect a tree is infested, you can follow procedures for seeking treatment or removal of the tree from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website.
Last week Governor Mark Dayton signed legislation that will remove a trade barrier currently in place for Minnesota agricultural businesses looking to export commercial feed to Brazil. This piece of legislation will allow Minnesota companies to remain competitive in the global export market while at the same time recognize the importance of good manufacturing standards.
Recently imposed import regulations set in Brazil require companies that send feed to the country to provide a certificate of Good Manufacturing Practices compliance, yet this certificate is not expected to be implemented for several months. Without a process for providing the certificate required by Brazil, Minnesota companies would be unable to supply feed to that large and growing market. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the state legislators worked together to pass House File (HF) 1926 that would create a temporary process for issuing a state certificate of Good Manufacturing Practices for Minnesota companies that produce commercial feed.
This week marks the 39th annual National Agriculture Week, which raises national awareness about the crucial role agriculture plays in providing people with the nutrition essential for everyday life. In the State of Minnesota, agriculture accounts for more than $15.1 billion in farm income and more than $5 billion in agriculture exports annually. Agriculture is essential to the state’s health and economy, which is why Governor Mark Dayton recently declared the week of March 4-10 as Minnesota Agriculture Week.
In honor of Natural Agriculture Week, we wanted to highlight the work of Commissioner Dave Frederickson, who is dedicated to advocating for Minnesota’s farmers. Commissioner Frederickson knows rural issues well; he grew up in a farm family and operated his own farm for over 20 years near Murdock, Minnesota. He served one of Minnesota’s most agrarian districts in the State Senate, where he advocated for agriculture, education, and rural development. Commissioner Frederickson continued to serve our state farmers by working as president of the Minnesota Farmers Union and as an agricultural outreach director for US Senator Amy Klobuchar. Being appointed Commissioner of Agriculture by Governor Mark Dayton was just the next step in a lifetime of service on behalf of farmers across Minnesota and throughout our nation.
For the past six years, Minnesota has worked to eradicate bovine TB and regain its statewide TB-Free Status. With the help of nearly 500 veterinarians, Minnesota producers have tested more than 800,000 head of cattle and Minnesota deer hunters and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have tested nearly 14,000 wild deer for TB.
Minnesota's efforts have raised the bar in disease eradication by showcasing how producers and local, state, and federal agencies should work together, work quickly, and work effectively to eliminate a disease. To read the proclamation, click here.
He was joined by Senator Amy Klobuchar, Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson, Minnesota Turkey Growers Association President Jeff Lindell, and four Future Farmers of America (FFA) students from Willmar High School.
Lindell, also a turkey farmer from Cannon Falls, Minnesota, announced the donation of $11,200 to Hunger Solutions Minnesota (HSM), which will be used to buy Minnesota grown turkey products for distribution to food shelves across the state. This is enough turkey to feed over 13,000 people.
Check out the photo below and the Star Tribune's photo gallery for a behind the scenes look.
One of the jobs of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is to license grain and produce dealers and wholesalers throughout the state of Minnesota. This is done to protect both those who will buy and sell these products, and the Minnesotans who will ultimately consume them, ensuring they are receiving a product that is safe and meets quality standards.
Harley Olinske, the supervisor of both the grain and produce licensing programs at MDA conducted a thorough review of the two programs last year and enacted several procedural changes to increase efficiency, effectiveness, and licensing timelines. Under Olinske’s leadership, staff roles for the licensing process were consolidated, language for the program was simplified and brought up to date, and online submission of applications via email and electronic filing were encouraged wherever possible.
As a result of these improvements, MDA estimates it will save about $300,000 annually and the grain and produce licensing units are providing much more timely service to the Minnesota producers, wholesalers, and dealers they serve. In almost every case, grain and produce license renewals are now completed within a month, whereas before renewals often were not completed within 30 days of submission.