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Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published June 08 2011

Minnesota Legislature: Trade mission to China delayed by budget woes

ST. PAUL – The first major fallout from Minnesota’s budget impasse is postponement of a planned early August trade mission to China.

Gov. Mark Dayton was to lead the mission, designed to improve trade between Minnesota and China, but a top Agriculture Department official says there are too many questions about the budget to proceed.

“Given the uncertainty of this situation, we have decided to postpone the trip,” Assistant Commissioner Charlie Poster of the state Agriculture Department wrote in an email Tuesday to people interested in going on the trip.

Just last Friday, Poster had invited people to join the mission.

“We want to make certain that the trip is a success, enabling our producers to meet potential customers and key contacts in China, and we don’t want to ask you to make firm plans for this trip until the budget situation has been resolved,” Poster said in Tuesday’s email.

Much of the trip, which was to be Aug. 5-14, was to center on agribusiness.

While the Legislature and Dayton have approved agriculture program funding, the rest of the state budget remains unsettled, including money for an office doing much of the trade trip planning.

A special legislative session will be needed to finish the two-year budget, but Dayton and Republicans who control the Legislature appear far apart. If no new budget is written by July 1, current appropriations run out and much of state government will shut down.

No new date for the mission has been set.

Davis works for Forum Communications Co. He can be reached at (651) 290-0707 or ddavis@forumcomm.com