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U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says his department will lead an agricultural trade mission to China at the end of March.

Representatives from 40 U.S. agribusinesses and six state agriculture department leaders are planning to attend. They include Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, Oklahoma Agriculture Secretary Jim Reese, and representatives from North Carolina, Illinois, Kansas, and South Dakota.

Acting Agriculture Under Secretary Michael Scuse will lead the group to Chengdu and Shanghai, two of China's largest cities, from March 23-28.

China moved into the top spot as the top market for U.S. agricultural goods last year after purchasing $20 billion in U.S. agricultural exports.

Vilsack announced the trip in Ames on Thursday. He says the goal of the mission is to provide U.S. participants with market information, access to government decision makers, and one-on-one meetings with business contacts, potential agents, distributers, and importers.

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