St. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) - Taiwan made good on its word to visit Minnesota Monday, and along with its trade delegation came a massive order for agricultural products.
Gov. Mark Dayton and other state leaders were on hand as Taiwan ordered billions of dollars' worth of corn, soybeans and wheat.
All across Minnesota, farmers can smile as warm winds dry some eight million acres of ripening field corn. But it was the news in St. Paul that adds to their optimism.
"Taiwan, of course, is a long-standing and important trade partner," Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson said.
A Taiwanese trade delegation signed letters of intent to buy $2.4 billion of Minnesota corn, soybeans and wheat in 2016 and 2017.
Quality that's among the world's best is now going to a country that simply can't grow its own.
"Almost 98 percent was dependent on imports from outside countries," said Taiwan's Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Cheng-Taung Wang.
News of the order comes just a week after the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Minnesota farmers will harvest a record corn crop. It expects farmers to combine an average of 184 bushels per acre.
Unfortunately, the record crop is coming as market prices have been driven down by large world inventory and a slackening demand.
Corn prices are roughly half what they were at the 2012 peak.
"A major reason why Minnesota persisted through the last recession was because of the strength of our agriculture economy, and exports are a key element of that," Dayton said.
To put Taiwan's recent order into perspective, farmers will harvest about $1.4 billion bushels this fall. Taiwan will take about 14 percent of that, over the next two years. Still, Japan and Mexico remain the largest customers for Minnesota corn, together consuming 46 percent each year.
"It certainly demonstrates the quality of the product we have in Minnesota, and we hope others will catch on so this leads to other opportunities," Minnesota Corn Growers Executive Director Adam Birr said.
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