BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Taiwan has once again agreed to purchase a large share of U.S. wheat over the next two years, with most of it coming from Idaho, North Dakota and Montana.
Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and Taiwanese milling industry officials signed the $576 million agreement Wednesday at the Idaho Capitol in Boise following similar agreements being signed by Montana and North Dakota officials.
"The consumption of wheat foods in Taiwan has now surpassed rice and we appreciate that the Taiwan milling industry recognizes the quality of Idaho wheat," Otter said.
According to the Idaho Wheat Commission, Taiwan mostly buys Idaho's soft white wheat to use in cookies, crackers and noodles. However, Taiwan has also been buying more of the state's hard red wheat to use in bread. A total of 5 percent of Idaho's wheat production is purchased by Taiwan.
"Taiwan's consumers have appreciated high-quality Idaho-grown wheat and famous potatoes for decades," said Tony I-T Chen, chairman of Taiwan's milling association.
After signing the agreement, Taiwanese delegates gifted Otter with a bottle of single malt whiskey made in Taiwan with Idaho wheat. Otter then joked he might have to taste it later that night during dinner with the delegates.
This is the 11th time leaders with the Taiwan Flour Millers Association — which imports wheat on behalf of all 20 Taiwanese flour mills — have pledged to buy U.S. wheat. Taiwan has roughly one-sixth the land mass of Idaho, but it has a population of more than 23 million.
The United States supplies more than 80 percent of Taiwan's total wheat imports each year. For 2018 and 2019 combined, Taiwan is agreeing to buy 1.8 million metric tons of U.S. wheat.
"The partnership between Taiwan's millers and U.S. wheat producers is enduring and very successful," said said Bill Flory, vice chairman, Idaho Wheat Commission. "The importance of maintaining this trade relationship with this valued customer cannot be overstated."