DES MOINES, IOWA, February 16, 2012 –Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today addressed the opening session of the US-China Agriculture Symposium:
"Thank you all for being here. It's an honor to welcome Vice President Xi back to Iowa and the entire Chinese delegation, including my dear and old friend Minister Han.
"I also want to acknowledge Governor Branstad, Lieutenant Governor Reynolds, Secretary Bill Northey and the many other honored guests and dignitaries joining us here today. Thanks as well to Ambassador Ken Quinn who has graciously offered this beautiful facility for this important gathering.
"Vice President Xi, we are honored and proud that our good hospitality encouraged you to return. I appreciated your kind remarks about Iowa the other night at Vice President Biden's home. I believe there is perhaps no better place to showcase the strengths of American agriculture and American values.
"This symposium is a historic event. It is a real opportunity to strengthen an already-vibrant cooperative relationship built on mutual benefits and mutual trust between our two great nations. One of the strongest links in that relationship is centered on agriculture. Which will be further strengthened with the signing of our Strategic Cooperation Agreement.
"We are the world's two largest agricultural producers and strong collaborators in agricultural research and education. Our great trade relationship benefits the citizens of both of our nations.
"Every day our nations and the livelihoods of our citizens grow more connected. I look forward to strengthening that bond in the years ahead.
"What's more, our two great nations – and our great agricultural economies – have a tremendous capacity to build a better world. I appreciate Minister Han's enthusiastic willingness to co-host and sponsor this symposium focused on food security, food safety, and sustainability, he and I, along with Vice President Xi understand the importance of building strong and lasting relationships between American and Chinese businesses. So, there are many reasons why we meet here and now.
"First, we have responsibility and opportunity to work together to address the causes of global hunger that affect more than 925 million people.
"Current population trends mean we must increase agricultural production by 70% by 2050 to feed more than 9 billion people. I look forward to strengthening partnerships with China to support agricultural productivity in nations where far too many millions go hungry. The expertise, technical know-how, research and combined will of our two nations can go a long way to filling empty stomachs and improve incomes and economies around the world.
"It is fitting, then, that we are meeting at the headquarters of the World Food Prize. The prize was the brainchild of Dr. Norman Borlaug, an Iowa native who saved tens of millions of lives by dedicating himself to the problems of food production and eradicating hunger.
"Two great Chinese men have been recognized with this prestigious prize for helping feed millions of Chinese citizens and people around the world.
"The impact of Dr. Borlaug's work – and the work of all those who have received this honor – should serve as our inspiration as we discuss how our nations can more effectively collaborate to increase the availability and use of sustainably produced food.
"Food security is only one of the important issues to be addressed today.
"We will also have opportunities to collaborate and partner on food safety: ensuring the health of our citizens through the implementation of best practices, advanced by laws and regulations based on science.
"We will talk about sustainable agriculture to leave for future generations healthy soils, ample water, and abundant wildlife. As we improve agricultural production to meet the demands of a growing world, we will also pursue stewardship practices that better conserve and preserve our natural resources.
"Finally, this symposium will help Chinese and American businesses to develop relationships that are integral to opening doors for new opportunities. Those relationships will assure that when difficulties arise, as they sometimes do, we will continue to dialogue until solutions are found.
"The rapid development of China-U.S. agricultural cooperation and trade has provided tremendous benefits the people of both countries. We want to continue building those cooperative relationships and public-private partnerships.
"Vice President Xi, Minister Han and I want to facilitate more investments by business interests in China and America. Our interest in each other's countries can only help to build a lasting friendship and relationship.
"It is now my privilege and honor to introduce my good and old friend Minister Han of China. He will make remarks and introduce our next honored guest, Vice President Xi.
"Minister Han and I got to know each other on my visit to China last November. During that visit, and since that time, we have had productive conversations about issues of mutual interest.
"Most fundamentally, we share a vision that America and China will collaborate more and more in the future to benefit our nations and agriculture around the world.
"This symposium is a forum for the U.S. and China to work together as true partners on agriculture for the benefit of our citizens and to address global challenges. As we do, we will help promote the healthy and steady development of a cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit"