WI delegation attends China Dairy Expo

Wisconsin State Farmer
Landwehr carves intricate designs into a block of cheese.

MADISON - A delegation of Wisconsin agriculture-related companies returned home last week from the 2017 China International Dairy Expo and Summit in Harbin, China, where they exhibited Wisconsin products in a Wisconsin Pavilion organized by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang Province, is a major dairy production and processing area, and Heilongjiang and Wisconsin have had Sister State ties since 1982.

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Sister State relationship, and to celebrate the milestone, Troy Landwehr, a Freedom, Wis. resident and accomplished cheese carver, was a featured artist during the three-day expo (April 20-22). Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery donated several large blocks of aged cheddar, which Landwehr carved into unique shapes and figures.

During the expo, exhibitors met with key industry experts, had one-on-one meetings with potential distributors and business partners, networked with decision-makers, and gained exposure through Chinese media. The expo is annually attended by leading business representatives from dozens of countries throughout Asia, Eastern and Western Europe, Oceania, and the Middle East. This year marked the seventh year DATCP has led a Wisconsin delegation to the expo.

“The goal of the mission was to promote Wisconsin agribusiness, encourage trade and exhibit Wisconsin products at the Dairy Expo,” said Jennifer Lu, an economic development consultant with DATCP’s International Trade Team who helped organize the visit by the Wisconsin delegation.

“Wisconsin is a world leader in the production of quality milk, safe dairy products and outstanding genetics, and Wisconsin products and the expertise of the people who work with them are always popular at this show,” said Lu. “Meeting face to face in our own Wisconsin Pavilion not only creates the opportunity to build awareness of Wisconsin products, services and expertise, it also sets Wisconsin apart.”

The delegation also included Steve Ingham, administrator of DATCP’s Division of Food and Recreational Safety. During the expo, Ingham presented a seminar entitled “The Grade ‘A’ Program: Ensuring Safe, High-Quality Milk and Milk Products for Americans.” Ingham’s attendance, along with that of Lu and Landwehr, was sponsored by the United States Dairy Export Council and United States Livestock and Genetics Export, Inc.

The delegation also included staff from UW-River Falls, who gave a presentation on the welfare of dairy cows and helped coordinate the cheese carving.

China is an important trade partner for Wisconsin agriculture and the world’s largest dairy buyer. The country ranked third in 2016 for agricultural exports from the Badger State, with total Wisconsin agricultural exports to China valued at $222 million last year. Products in demand include hides and skins, whey, lactose, lumber, ginseng and bovine semen, prepared/preserved food and various food items such as yeasts, sauces and other ingredients.