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China mission trip falls victim to budget stalemate

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 a Tuesday email 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 agri-business. 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.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.