The Georgia Department of Agriculture has asked the current session of the Georgia Assembly for permission to open an office in the Far East, said Tommy Irvin, Georgia’s Commissioner of Agriculture, at a seminar on March 5.

      The department is looking into several possible sites to locate the new office if approval is granted, including Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

      Some of Georgia’s top agricultural products, including peanuts and tobacco, are losing government subsidies and popular support at home, said Mr. Irvin.  “That means we’ve got to develop our markets elsewhere,” he added.

      The department already has an office in Brussels that is responsible for promoting Georgia agricultural products overseas, and if the office in the Far East is approved, he said, he will set his sights on opening the next office in Central or South America.

      “Our efforts to expand overseas are paying dividends,” said Mr. Irvin, pointing out that Georgia’s agricultural exports increased by 50% from 1994 to 1995, for a total of more than $1 billion.