Taiwan buys Minnesota grain
ST. PAUL -- Taiwan is on a small island, depending on the American farm belt for much of its grain, so officials from there Monday signed documents in Minnesota indicating they plan to buy up to $2.5 billion worth of corn and soybeans in the next...
ST. PAUL - Taiwan is on a small island, depending on the American farm belt for much of its grain, so officials from there Monday signed documents in Minnesota indicating they plan to buy up to $2.5 billion worth of corn and soybeans in the next two years.
Su Ye of the Minnesota Agriculture Department said the agreements, already officially signed in Washington, do not specify how much each state’s farmers will receive from Taiwan. But she estimated that Minnesota farmers can expect about $250 in corn and bean sales.
The corn deal includes 197 million bushels of corn and 500,000 metric tons of a livestock feed produced as an ethanol byproduct. Up to 107 million bushels of American soybeans also are to be sold.
In a separate agreement, Taiwan agreed to buy $544 million worth of wheat, which will include grain from Minnesota and North Dakota.
Gov. Mark Dayton, two Minnesota farm leaders and three of the 20-member Taiwanese delegation that visited Minnesota Sunday and Monday signed documents pertaining to the corn and soybean deal in a state Capitol complex ceremony. The Taiwanese delegation held similar ceremonies in Iowa and Illinois. More than 98 percent of grain used in Taiwan must be imported, said Cheng-Taung Wang, head of the visiting delegation. It is used for livestock feed and making food products such as tofu.
He said Taiwanese agri-business leaders like America’s high-quality grain. “Also, you have a very wonderful transportation system.”
Northfield-area farmers Bruce Peterson, representing corn growers, and Keith Strader of a soybean group emphasized they use conservation practices on their farms to preserve soil and to reduce water pollution.
Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson said conservation is important to Taiwanese purchasers.
They also are interested in whether grain is genetically modified, a controversial issue in Europe and other regions. Wang told Forum News Service that modified grain is used for livestock feed, while non-modified grain is used for food.
Keith Schrader, chairperson of the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council said 40 percent of the beans he raises are not modified, and are destined for the Asian tofu market.
Taiwan is Minnesota’s sixth largest agricultural export market, following China, Canada, Mexico, Japan and South Korea.
Frederickson led Minnesota farm leaders on a trip to Taiwan two years ago. He said he hopes to return.
“Trade is about building relationships,” Peterson said.
Added Dayton: “Our trade relations around the world, including Taiwan, are crucial to ensuring that our farmers can sell their products in the global marketplace.”
Wang said Taiwan leaders have traveled to the United States since 1988 to sign documents expressing their intent to buy American farm products.
“Taiwan and Minnesota have endured cultural tied since they established a sister state relationship in 1984,” he added.