By Doug Schmitz
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Representatives from Taiwan and Kentucky farmers joined Gov. Steve Beshear to sign Letters of Intent for Taiwan to purchase U.S. corn and soybean products over the next two years.
“These agreements between Kentucky farmers and the Republic of China (Taiwan) will allow Kentucky to capitalize on one of our nation’s great trade partners,” Beshear said at the Sept. 22 event held at the Governor’s Mansion.
“Kentucky exports already support more than 125,000 jobs statewide, and I am excited to have the opportunity to extend that success to our farmers with each of these trade organization commitments in Taiwan,” he added.
The letters indicate the Taiwan Feed Industry Association agreed to purchase 59 million bushels of corn from U.S. producers at a cost of $1.9 billion to $2.1 billion. The Taiwan Vegetable Oil Manufacturers Association will purchase 96 million to 107 million bushels of U.S. soybeans, valued from $1.9 billion to $2.1 billion.
Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles said these agreements could allow Kentucky farmers to continue to benefit from one of the United States’ great trade partners.
“Agricultural exports are a mutually beneficial agreement for our farmers and those who receive the quality products we produce,” he said.
In April, Beshear traveled to Taiwan during his trade mission to Asia, meeting with Taiwan former president Ma Ying-jeou and other government dignitaries to further explore trade and investment opportunities.
Between Sept. 16-18, while in the United States, the delegation made visits to Washington, D.C., Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota.
“Since 1998, 13 Taiwan Agricultural Trade Goodwill Missions have been sent to the U.S.,” said Elliot Wang, director-General of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Atlanta, Ga. “Most of these missions have visited Midwestern states.
“Under the strong recommendation by Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Atlanta, the Mission came to Kentucky, the only southeastern state visited during their trip across the U.S. this year,” he added. “Last time the Mission visited Kentucky was in 2015.”
In 2021, Taiwan imported nearly $3.9 billion worth of U.S. farm products, making it the seventh largest market for U.S. agricultural products overall, the fourth largest market on a per capita basis among the top 10 U.S. agricultural export destinations, and the seventh largest market for U.S. corn and soybeans, according to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.
Moreover, the Commonwealth exported $27.5 billion in products to more than 190 countries in 2021, the fourth consecutive year of record growth.
Since Beshear’s Kentucky Export Initiative launched in 2010, Kentucky exports have grown by more than 42 percent, the department said. The national average is about 27 percent growth.
In 2014, Taiwan ranked as the seventh largest market for U.S. corn exports and fifth in the U.S. soybean market. Following 18 procurement missions to the United States from 1978 to 1993, Taiwan has initiated nine additional Agricultural Trade Goodwill missions since 1998.
In addition, Taiwan imported more than $3.5 billion in U.S. farm products in 2014, more than $9 billion in corn, and more than $10.5 billion in soybeans from the United States since 1998.
“Taiwan is an important buyer of U.S. coarse grains and co-products, including corn and distiller’s dried grains with solubles,” said Russel Schwenke, Kentucky Corn Growers Association president. “By having the Taiwanese Agricultural Goodwill Mission visit our state, we are strengthening trade ties and helping to maintain the well-established partnership between the United States and Taiwan.”
Philip McCoun, Kentucky Corn Promotion Council chair, said this mission is very important because it builds contacts between key agricultural leaders from Taiwan and U.S. producers and suppliers.
“Fostering relationships helps reassure these Taiwanese agriculture leaders of the United States’ ability to be the reliable long-term supplier of high-quality grains and ultimately helps to preserve their preference for U.S. products,” he said.
Larry Thomas, Kentucky Soybean Promotion Board chair, said, “We appreciate this group of buyers and dignitaries coming to visit some of our farms, see for themselves the growing conditions, and meet some of the farm families who raise Kentucky soybeans. Kentucky’s soybean farmers look forward to long-term and mutually beneficial relationships with our trade partners for many years to come.”
On Sept. 23, the Illinois Soybean Association and other Illinois commodity groups signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Taiwan the association said will enable closer cooperation in global trade facilitation.
“The signing of the (Memorandum of Understanding) signifies a step toward global trade security,” said Steve Pitstick, Illinois Soybean Association chair. “And it reinforces (the Illinois Soybean Association’s) commitment to maintain the security of international supply chains, while facilitating legitimate trade relationships.”
On Sept. 20, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig, the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, the Iowa Soybean Association and Iowa Economic Development Authority hosted members of the Taiwan Agricultural Trade Goodwill Mission to sign letters of intent for the purchase of corn and soybeans.
“Today’s letters of intent represent the next stage of Iowa’s long-standing, bilateral friendship with Taiwan,” Reynolds said. “They’re also powerful proof of Iowa farmers’ global reputation for high-quality agricultural production – and the enormous benefits that flow to our economy as a result. I’m deeply grateful to Taiwan for committing to Iowa, and I can’t wait to see where this relationship goes in the future.”