Taiwanese trade officials agreed Tuesday to buy nearly $3 billion of U.S. corn and soybeans at a ceremony with Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa farm leaders at the Iowa State Capitol.
Members of the Taiwan Agricultural Trade Goodwill Mission signed letters of intent to buy between 96 million and 107 million bushels of U.S. soybeans and 59 million bushels of corn between 2023 and 2024.
Reynolds said the purchases, valued at $2.6 billion, are good for the state, the nation's largest corn grower and second-largest soybean producer. Taiwan's purchases are "powerful proof of Iowa farmers' global reputation for high- quality agricultural production ? and the enormous benefits that flow to our economy as a result," said Reynolds in a statement.
Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig said the agreements are significant. "You're talking $2 billion worth of soybean purchases," Naig told reporters after the signing. "You're talking of nearly a billion dollars' worth of corn purchases. ... Those things add up over time."
The Iowa Soybean Association said the Taiwanese market is important to farmers. Last year, Taiwan, with a population of almost 24 million, imported more than 51 million bushels of U.S. soybeans, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.
Altogether, Taiwan imported $3.9 billion worth of American farm products in 2021, USDA data shows.
"More than 60% of the U.S. soybean crop is exported globally each year, meaning our ability to maintain existing global markets and expand new ones is critical to the continued success of our state's soybean farmers and the industry," Randy Miller, a south- central Iowa farmer and the association's board president, said in a statement.
Taiwan is Iowa's 12th-largest trading partner, with Iowa exports to that country estimated at $305 million in manufactured and value-added goods in 2021, the state said. In the first half of 2022, Iowa exports to Taiwan have increased 4% compared to last year.
The Taiwanese trade delegation has toured Iowa farms and other agricultural operations and met with producers, commodity groups and university representatives during its visit to the state, officials said.
"Our longstanding friendship and our growing trading partnership with Taiwan are positives for Iowa's economy and farmers and we sincerely appreciate their letter of intent to purchase more corn and soybeans," Naig said in a statement.
China is the largest buyer of U.S. corn and soybeans, purchases that totaled about $19.2 billion. Overall, U.S. farm and food exports reached a record $177 billion, beating the previous high, set in 2014, by nearly 15%.