A group of Taiwanese businessmen and key officials made a tour through the Midwest just a couple weeks ago. Maybe their timing was because of the anticipated normal to below normal corn and soybean corps and they wanted to shore up their positions- may be that had nothing to do with it. At any rate, it appears exports will continue to be an important market for American farmers for some time to come.
Taiwan is actually a key place in U.S. ag exports for both corn and soybeans. That country boasts the second-highest per capita consumption of U.S corn and soybeans, according to information supplied by Ian Sheldon, a leading ag economist at Ohio State University. Sheldon works at both Columbus and Wooster, Ohio.
The delegation from the Asian nation stopped in Ohio on their tour, which they called a Goodwill Mission Trip. They agreed to purchases of grain. Amounts were not disclosed. Part of the purpose of the trip, as the title implies, was to demonstrate their good will toward wanting to continue as a customer of U.S. corn and soybeans.
The same delegation also stopped in Indiana. Ironically, Lt. Governor Becky Skillman, the Indiana Secretary of Agriculture, was on a foreign mission trip at the same time that they visited. However, they were ably hosted by Joe Kelsay, director of the Indiana State department of Agriculture. Kelsay has a close tie to farmers since he farms as part of a family dairy operation near Whiteland.
While in Indianapolis at the statehouse, the Taiwanese also signed an agreement to continue purchasing Indiana corn and soybeans. The actual agreement was for the 2012-2013 marketing year. Again, no details of amounts were disclosed.
The visit by the Taiwanese to these two states and other locations in the Midwest serve as reminders that part of the strong support for grain prices, which although lower than a few weeks ago, are still in rarified territory historically, is due to increased exports overseas.