Taiwan wheat millers visit Northwest

Capital Press
September 13, 2019

Taiwan Flour Mills Association representatives are touring the Pacific Northwest and Washington, D.C., during a visit that will culminate in a new two-year agreement to buy U.S. wheat.

One of the stops they made was in the Lewiston, Idaho, area on Sept. 6-9. They saw how growers maintain high crop quality, the Idaho Wheat Commission said in a news release, including how wheat is tested, stored and prepared for delivery by barge on the Snake and Columbia rivers.

Sponsored by the commission and U.S. Wheat Associates, they visited Lewis-Clark Terminal at the Port of Lewiston, a lab where wheat protein and moisture levels are analyzed, the Uniontown, Wash., Co-op and farms. They also attended the Lewiston Roundup rodeo as guests of its governing board.

“Idaho wheat growers are dedicated to producing high-quality harvests for international and domestic use,” Idaho Wheat Commission Executive Director Blaine Jacobson said. “We look forward to hosting our friends and partners from Taiwan later this month when they come to Boise.”

The group, following trips to Portland, Seattle and Washington, D.C., will meet with Idaho Gov. Brad Little as part of the Taiwan goodwill mission. The mission is expected to sign a letter of intent to purchase wheat at negotiated rates between 2020 and 2021. Details are yet to be released.

In 2017 they signed a letter of intent to buy 66.1 million bushels, valued at around $576 million, from the U.S. in 2018 and this year, a communique said.

Taiwan, the fifth largest market for U.S. wheat, imported nearly $4.3 billion in U.S. farm products in 2018.

“They are great long-term customers,” commission member Bill Flory said in an interview. “They are great customers and great people.”

Idaho and other Northwest states for years have had a strong trading relationship with Taiwan.

“It’s a lot of work to host these trade teams and show them a good time, but they do the same thing when we are there,” Flory said. “We want to maintain and enhance the long-term relationship we have, and show them the high-quality crop we’ve got available in the market this year.”

Idaho exports about half its wheat, including about 90% of the crop grown north of the Salmon River.