When thinking about the goods or services that Colorado exports to other countries, agricultural products may not be the first thing that crosses your mind. Think again.
Agricultural exports have become increasingly important to our states economy, with high-quality, locally grown products sold from our farmers and ranchers to worldwide markets that are rich with opportunity. And these exports are growing rapidly, doubling since 2009 to $2.1 billion. I am excited about the continued growth of Colorados agricultural exports to international markets which contributes to Colorados economic vitality and enhances opportunity for all Coloradans.
From Canada to Mexico, to Japan and China, and all the way to Korea and Russia, products from Colorados farms and ranches are finding their way to these and other international destinations. Top agricultural exports include beef, hides, dairy, dry beans and wheat.
Overall, our biggest trading partners continue to be our neighbors to the north and south, Canada and Mexico, where the largest shares of Colorado agricultural products go, but weve seen growth on the global level. In fact, exports to Japan have increased 52 percent to $48.5 million in the first eight months of 2012, part of the $120 million dollar increase in Colorados agricultural exports in the first eight months of 2012.
As for Colorados total exports to our key international markets, agricultural exports often contribute a major share. For example, agricultural exports accounted for 35.7 percent of Colorados total exports to Mexico, while accounting for 46 percent of our states total exports to China.
Access to open markets is critical to reaching foreign customers. It is important that our countrys trade representatives continue to fight for greater access to global markets for our agricultural products. Our most recent trade agreements with Panama, Colombia, and South Korea are examples of the U.S. working to tear down trade barriers that block or reduce exports and improve access to customers in international markets. Without question, Colorados agricultural exports will continue to grow as we open and expand global markets and create new and exciting opportunities for our valued and quality products.
Gov. Hickenlooper has been a strong advocate for Colorado agricultural products, encouraging buyers in international markets to become more familiar with our products. I joined the Governor in a trade mission to Mexico earlier this year where we met with current and potential buyers of Colorado products. One of the positive outcomes of this mission is that Mexico is expected to ease barriers allowing greater access for fresh potatoes. This would be an especially important gain for San Luis Valley potato producers. Our meetings could also increase exports of beef and wheat to Mexico.
Agriculture has been, and will continue to be, a critical part of Colorados economic well-being. As more and more of our agricultural products find consumers across the globe, Colorado agriculture will boost our states economic growth and help create jobs. And that is not only good for agriculture it is good for all Coloradans.
A sixth-generation farmer and rancher, Salazar served three terms representing Colorados 3rd Congressional District and was a member of the House Agriculture Committee. Before his time in Congress, Salazar served in the Colorado General Assembly for two years. Salazar was raised on a San Luis Valley farm. His experience influenced his public career. He served on the Rio Grande Water Conservation District, the Colorado Agricultural Leadership Forum and the Colorado Agricultural Commission before being elected as a state Representative in 2002. He was one of only a handful of active farmers in Congress after he was first elected in 2004. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper appointed John Salazar as state Commissioner of Agriculture in 2011.