Colorado agricultural exports grew more than 25 percent during the first two months of this year vs. the same period in 2011, the state Department of Agriculture said Tuesday.

Exports grew $45 million to more than $222 million, according to the agriculture department. The growth, led by meat and dairy exports, marked the fourth consecutive annual increase.

"Colorado's agricultural industry continues to be a shining light in a difficult economy," state Agriculture Commissioner John Salazar said. "We continue to work for greater market access in Mexico and will work in partnership with our agricultural industries to develop those opportunities."

Exports to Mexico, the state's second largest market and the fastest growing market, saw a 46-percent rise during January and February. The state remains the No. 1 U.S. exporter of beef to Canada and the third-largest exporter to Mexico.

In addition, Colorado is the No. 2 exporter of beef to Japan. Egypt and Chile, both new Colorado beef buyers in the last year, were the sixth and seventh largest markets for state's beef.

Dairy exports grew nearly 80 percent to $13.7 million in the first two months. More than 90 percent of dairy exports went to Mexico, with additional products sold to other countries in North America, Asia and South America as well as Australia.