(Le Mars) — Earlier this month, officials representing Iowa’s agriculture industry participated in a trade mission to the Latin American nations of Columbia and Panama. Bill Tentinger of Le Mars was among those trade team participants. Tentinger has been on several previous trade missions to such nations as Japan, China, Mexico and the Philippines. He says he was surprised of the acceptance of U-S meat products by the Colombians .
In addition to visiting Columbia, the trade team also spent time at Panama, a country Tentinger had previously visited on a separate trade mission. He says since the U-S entered a free trade agreement with Panama, he has noticed improvement with the trade relations.
The Plymouth County pork producer says it is important for Iowa agriculture to establish relationships with other nations in order to promote and market our agricultural products to developing nations.
The trade delegation was being accompanied by Iowa Lt. Governor Adam Gregg, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig, and officials from the Iowa Economic Development Board. Tentinger says its beneficial for everyone to have government officials along for the trade trips. Since Tentinger is from Le Mars, he is always on the look out for Le Mars’ most famous product…Well’s Blue Bunny ice cream.
Tentinger says he was able to find some ice cream products in both Columbia and Panama that originated from Le Mars, the “Ice Cream Capital of the World.”
Tentinger says he has witnessed the growth of trade opportunities for Iowa and the U-S. He says 30 years ago, Japan was not a major buyer of U-S pork, today the oriental nation is the largest importer of U-S pork products. Tentinger says he sees the same type of trade growth potential with Columbia and Panama.