A Virginia trade delegation is exploring opportunities to export agricultural and forestry products to Israel and India.
"This is a way to open up new opportunities in India and Israel for agriculture and forestry products, and the trickle-down will benefit our farmers," said Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore, who is on the 11-day trade mission with Gov. Bob McDonnell and other state representatives.
The delegation first met with Israeli agribusinesses to discuss exporting Virginia products like soybeans, grains, wood products, apples and wine. Israel is already an important export market for Virginia, Haymore said, with $25 million in soybeans, grains and wood products being sold there. "We want to grow that."
In India, the Virginia group is meeting with importers of wood products, apple and processed foods, crude soybean oil and wine.
India is now Virginia’s 15th largest export destination — up from 24th in 2008. In 2010, overall U.S. exports to India increased more than 17 percent while exports to India via Virginia grew roughly 3.3 percent in the same year. Only a small portion of those, however, were agriculture and forestry products, Haymore said.
He will talk about the trade mission Nov. 30 when he speaks at the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation 2011 Annual Convention in Norfolk.
Already the governor’s office has announced that it has hired two representatives to represent Virginia in India — one in Mumbai and one in Bangalore.
In the summer of 2010, a trade mission to Europe resulted in opening the doors for wine and specialty product exports to England. And earlier this year, McDonnell led a trade mission to Japan, China and South Korea that resulted in export agreements.
Virginia agricultural and forestry exports totaled $2.24 billion in 2010, and exports of some Virginia commodities, including pork, poultry, soybeans and wood products, increased last year.