North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler will lead an agricultural trade mission to China Aug. 1-8.

The mission will focus on expanding markets for North Carolina tobacco, soybeans, cotton and other commodities. Meetings with Chinese officials will take place in Beijing, Kunming, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.

“North Carolina farmers desperately need new markets, and China is the largest potential customer in the world,” Troxler said. “China purchased $271 million worth of North Carolina ag products in 2008, and there is still a huge amount of room for growth. I am confident we will open doors to new opportunities that will benefit North Carolina farmers, otherwise I’d stay home.”

Troxler and agriculture industry officials will meet with leaders of China’s tobacco, soybean and cotton industries. He also will sign a memorandum of understanding with officials from Yunnan, a province with agriculture similar to North Carolina’s. Under the agreement, North Carolina and Yunnan leaders will pledge to find areas of mutual benefit, Troxler said.

The Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, North Carolina Farm Bureau, North Carolina Soybean Producers Association and Burley Stabilization Corp. are sponsoring events connected to the trade mission, including two dinners for Chinese customers of North Carolina agricultural products.

Joining Troxler in the 26-person delegation will be representatives of the Tobacco Growers Association of North Carolina, North Carolina Soybean Producers Association, North Carolina Cotton Growers Association, North Carolina Farm Bureau, North Carolina Agribusiness Council, North Carolina Growers Association, U.S. Tobacco Cooperative, Burley Stabilization Corp. and PS International. These travelers will cover their own expenses.