ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — During a visit to Minnesota on Friday, a Taiwanese agriculture delegation formalized a letter of intent to purchase $3.5 billion in U.S.-grown soybeans and corn over the next two years.
It's not yet clear what share Minnesota farmers will fulfill in 2014 and 2015, but an official said the state's crops have typically exceeded 10 percent of the volume in prior arrangements with Taiwan.
Gov. Mark Dayton hosted the officials at the Capitol. They plan to remain in the state over the weekend for a tour that includes trips to farms.
Minnesota has entered into agriculture export deals with Taiwan in the past, but they say the new letter will deepen the state's tie to its sixth-largest export market. Taiwan is an east Asian nation of about 23 million people.
"Taiwan is a small island, but we import a tremendous amount of agriculture products," said Wen-Deh Chen, the vice minister of the Taiwan Council of Agriculture said. The new plan calls for the purchase of 197 million bushels of U.S. corn, 500,000 metric tons of dried grains and up to 99 million bushels of soybeans.
Paul Simonsen, a farmer in southern Minnesota and chairman of the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, said having the delegation in Minnesota would pay divdends.
"We believe that cultivating relationships is just as important as cultivating crops," he said.
Earlier this year, Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson led a state delegation to Taiwan to promote the state's agriculture offerings. It included leaders from Minnesota's corn and soybean growers associations.