A Hamden man was awarded a certificate of appreciation from the United States Department of Agriculture for helping to develop legislation regarding the importation of U.S. alfalfa hay. The legislation was passed by China.

Robert M. Bishop was presented with a citation that said, "For your perseverance and excellence in successfully gaining market access for U.S. alfalfa and hay to China by performing the role as the key nongovernmental participant in the development of the People's Republic of China's official legislation, which regulates those products from the United States."

U.S. Trade Director for China Kenneth P. Werner said he believes this is the first time a private individual has received such a citation.

Bishop is logistics manager of Larsen Farms in Dubois, Ind., one of the largest hay growers and marketers in the U.S. He is a past president of The National Hay Association and The National Forage Testing Association.

"I am just fortunate that Larsen Farms allowed me to commit the time to concentrate on helping the People's Republic of China draft legislation that is beneficial to both the U.S. and China," Bishop said.

Bishop said he has been working on the project since 2007.

"I have been to China three times this year," Bishop said Monday. "While I am humbled to be singled out, I certainly was not the only, nor probably even the most integral person involved in this process."

The Export Processors Council of The National Hay Association has worked for years to open the Chinese market for U.S. alfalfa hay, Bishop said.

Bishop said the most memorable experience during the process was accompanying Idaho Governor "Butch" Otter to China. While in Shanghai, Otter witnessed the signing of a supply contract between Larsen Farms and one of the largest dairies in China.

As a result of China's legislation, there are now 29 U.S. alfalfa exporters who are members of The National Hay Association's Export Processor's Council and certified to ship hay to China.

To become certified, an exporter must sign a compliance agreement that covers all aspects of alfalfa including growing, harvesting, storing, processing and shipping. To assure compliance, the exporter must be audited every year and must be able to trace any bale of hay back to the field on which it was grown.

Bishop said hay is one of the largest export commodities. He said the agreement with China has been place for about six months and during 2008, about 1,900 tons of hay was shipped to China. He anticipates that in 2009, close to 100,000 tons will be shipped.

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Patricia Breakey can be reached at 746-2894 or at stardelhi@stny.rr.com.

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