BOISE — Top Taiwanese officials thanked Idaho’s 5,000 wheat growers for the high-quality wheat they provide Sept. 16 during a visit to the state Capitol.
They said the consistent quality of wheat that Idaho and other U.S. farmers provide is the main reason Taiwan continues to purchase large amounts of wheat from this country.
“Taiwan is a quality-oriented market and USDA has a quality assurance program that ensures the quality of the wheat exported to Taiwan is good,” said Andy Chin, director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Seattle. “We will be back.”
Chin and other top agricultural and economic leaders from Taiwan came to Idaho to show their commitment to continue purchasing U.S. wheat. The nation, the sixth largest market for U.S. wheat, has purchased 520 million bushels of U.S. wheat valued at $3.27 billion since 1998.
The Taiwanese delegation is visiting four states — North Dakota, Montana, Idaho and Oregon — following a Sept. 10 ceremony in Washington, D.C., where the Taiwan Flour Mills Association signed a letter of intent to purchase 62.5 million bushels of U.S. wheat in 2014 and 2015.
Idaho Wheat Commission Chairman Ned Moon said the letter of intent is important for U.S. farmers because “it means that we know we have a place for our wheat to go. For Idaho wheat producers, it is a big deal to have somebody already ready to buy their wheat.”
A large portion of the wheat Taiwan purchases from the U.S. is grown in Idaho and although the letters of intent have become a biennial event, Gem State farmers said they do not take them for granted.
“They’ve been a good trading partner for decades and will continue to be so if we continue to take care of them,” said IWC commissioner Jerry Brown.
On hand to thank Taiwan for its wheat purchases were several members of Idaho’s wheat industry who drove for hours to get to the Capitol.
“This year I was determined I was going to shut the combine off and do whatever I needed to do to be here,” said Brown, who drove 4 1/2 hours from east Idaho. “It was that important to me to come and be here to meet these guys and express my appreciation to them.”
IWC commissioner Bill Flory drove from north Idaho to make the press conference in Gov. Butch Otter’s office.
The Taiwanese officials said the cultural ties and friendship between the two nations is a big reason their country purchases U.S. wheat, but Flory said farmers know that the high-quality wheat they provide is the main reason Taiwan continues to purchase from Idaho growers.
“These are the millers that have to grind this flour and make a consistent product for their customers, so the consistent quality Idaho can and has provided on a long-term basis is really important to them,” he said.