Boise-Idaho Governor Butch Otter signed a half billion dollar wheat deal with the Taiwan Flour Mill Association Wednesday morning at the Statehouse.
Taiwan Flour Mills Association Chairman Tony Chen and Director General Vincent Yao of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Seattle were joined at the Statehouse ceremony with Governor Otter, Idaho Wheat Commission Vice-Chairman Bill Flory and Idaho Department of Agriculture Director Celia Gould.
“The United States has long been Taiwan's most important supplier of agricultural products,” said Yao. “That makes Taiwan the seventh largest overseas market for US agricultural exports. Among the states, Idaho is one of the most important and reliable partners of Taiwan in terms of agricultural trade. Taiwan’s consumers benefit a lot from the high-quality agriculture products of Idaho.”
Taiwan prefers Idaho's soft white wheat for noodles, cookies, and crackers according to the Idaho Wheat Commission. But over the past few years Taiwan has also bought more of Idaho’s hard red wheat for bread. To date at least 5 percent of Idaho's wheat production is purchased by Taiwan.
“Export markets are critical to Idaho’s economy and our wheat growers,” Otter said. “We welcome the Taiwan Flour Mills Association back to Idaho and appreciate their loyalty as a customer. We appreciate that the Taiwan milling industry recognizes the quality of Idaho wheat.”
US wheat producers have had a working relationship with Taiwan buyers for more than four decades according to the Wheat Commission. The Taiwan Flour Millers Association imports wheat for twenty flour mills. The United States supplies more than 80 percent of Taiwan’s total wheat imports each year.
"The consumption of wheat foods in Taiwan now surpasses rice and we appreciate that the Taiwan milling industry recognizes the quality of Idaho wheat," Otter said.
Bill Flory grows wheat in Idaho's Palouse prairie and says the deal benefits producers.
"The partnership between Taiwan's millers and US wheat producers is enduring and very successful," said Flory who also serves as the vice chairman of the Idaho Wheat Commission. "The importance of maintaining a trade relationship with this valued customer can't be overstated."