Illinois agriculture officials are hosting buyers from seven foreign countries this week in an effort to increase export sales for the state's pork industry.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture says the buyers are from China, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, Thailand and Vietnam. Their tour lasts through Wednesday and includes stops in Red Bud, Teutopolis, Champaign and the Chicago area. The group will visit soybean researchers and family farmers among others.

On Thursday the group will travel to Des Moines, Iowa, for the World Pork Expo.

State agriculture director Philip Nelson say the tour is an important part of Illinois' efforts to grow the industry. He says the tour gives opportunities to build relationships with foreign buyers.

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