A delegation of produce buyers and wholesalers from the Ontario province of Canada will visit Florida in March to meet with leading agricultural producers and tour farms, packinghouses and state farmers' markets.

The reverse trade mission is being coordinated by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in conjunction with the Southern United States Trade Association (SUSTA) and FayeClack Communication Inc.

The mission is designed to further bolster trade relations with Canada by showcasing the quality and variety of Florida agricultural products that are available for export to Canadian consumers. More than $588 million in Florida agricultural products were sold to Canada in 2007, making that country Florida's top export market.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson sees the enhanced trade relations as beneficial to all involved. He said studies show Canadian consumers in all age groups have been trending toward healthier eating habits in recent years. And, as more Canadian retailers respond to this trend, Florida producers can help them meet the growing demand for fresh, wholesome products.

"Expanding markets for Florida exports is vital for our state's economy, especially during these current challenging times," Bronson said. "By increasing these exports, Canadian consumers will benefit by having a wider selection of quality fresh fruits and vegetables to enjoy as the demand for these healthy alternatives continues to grow."