WASHINGTON, D.C. - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued the following statement on China's signing of agreements with industry to purchase more than 5.5 million metric tons of U.S. soybeans:


"Yesterday's signing of contracts committing China to purchase more than 5.5 million metric tons of U.S. soybeans is a strong sign that China continues to look to the United States as a reliable supplier of high-quality products. These sales, worth nearly $3 billion at today's price, are great news not just for American soybean producers but for the U.S. economy overall."


"The U.S.-China trade relationship continues to flourish, thanks in large part to agriculture. U.S. farm exports to China have grown nearly tenfold over the past decade, from $1.5 billion in fiscal year 2000 to $15 billion in 2010. With each $1 billion in exports supporting 8,000 jobs, that $15 billion supports nearly 120,000 U.S. jobs."


"Last year, China became the second largest export market for U.S. agriculture overall and remained the largest market for U.S. soybeans, with 2010 sales of $9 billion.


"China will continue to be a key trading partner as agriculture contributes to President Obama's goal of doubling total U.S. exports over the next 5 years."


SOURCE: USDA