Strong market growth in China helped Wisconsin's exports of agricultural products surge to a record $2.9 billion in 2012.
The value of Wisconsin's agricultural products such as hides and skins, animal feed and dairy sold to China rose 49 percent to $177 million. That helped the state's overall export sales increase 3 percent, according to the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
DATCP secretary Ben Brancel said Wisconsin jumped three places to 13th in the nation for the value of its agricultural exports. Canada was the leading importer at $1.45 billion. Other top markets for the state were Mexico, China, South Korea and Japan, the DATCP report said.
The report said the most valuable state ag export, at $400 million, was beverages — a category dominated by ethanol. Most of Wisconsin's exports in the sector — $282 million worth — went to Canada, the report said.
Exports of miscellaneous foods, a category that includes sauces, yeasts and mustard, were second most valuable at $290 million, an increase of 16 percent from 2011. Dairy exports rose 22 percent to $282 million, with cheese exports growing the fastest in that category.