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Trade missions go virtual for Iowa officials

IARN — Iowa officials have had to conduct trade missions virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Iowa commodity groups and government officials spend a lot of time promoting the state’s agricultural products to important trade partners each year. However, since last spring, many of those overseas trips have been transformed into virtual missions – including a meeting that Governor Kim Reynolds and Ag Secretary Mike Naig had with Japanese officials.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority’s International Trade Office has provided assistance in getting these events coordinated. Brad Frisvold is Marketing Manager for Agriculture in the office and he says maintaining some form of trade missions is important for Iowa producers.

“No matter the country or the area of the world, keeping those relationships and in front of people is very important,” said Frisvold. “Japan is a very important market for farmers and for industry. We looked at it as an opportunity to go virtual with that. We worked with the governor’s office and the secretary’s office, as well as our commodity partners with the Iowa Pork Producers Association and Beef Industry Council and U.S. Meat Export Federation to host an online virtual meeting to be able to keep those relationships open.”

For Iowa farmers and producers, Frisvold says the export market to Japan is critical.

“It is our second-largest trading partner and it’s the largest for Iowa beef products, eggs and pork — although China is coming on strong,” said Frisvold. “It’s long been key to Iowa agriculture, even if you look back to when that first started in 1960 with the Iowa Hog Lift. That’s obviously a long time ago, so we’ve had relationships with Japan that go back decades. They understand the importance of high-quality products and they very truly appreciate relationships.”

The IEDA International Trade Office is offering a number of virtual presentations for farmers and virtual matchmaking services for industries to importers and purchasers in other countries. For more information, visit

Story courtesy of the Iowa Agribusiness Radio Network

Photo by Iowa Economic Development Authority

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