MAZON – An agriculture group from Taiwan stopped Friday in Mazon as part of its 10-day tour with the U.S. Grains Council that included stops in Kentucky, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Washington, D.C.
The group was at the Doug Harford farm in Mazon to sign letters of intent to purchase Illinois corn and soybeans in 2016 and 2017.
Gov. Bruce Rauner was on hand with the associations and representatives of the Taiwan Feed Industry Association and the Taiwan Vegetable Oil Manufacturers Association to sign the letters.
"We thank Taiwan for their continued support of the state's agriculture industry," Rauner said. "Agriculture helps our state secure a strong position in the global economy. We look forward to a long, continued relationship with our friends from Taiwan so that together we can help feed the world."
The 2015 agriculture trade goodwill mission included directors from the Bureau of Energy, Taiwan Sugar Corporation and College of Bio-Resources & Agriculture, as well as China Grain Products Research and Development Institute.
The 18-member delegation toured farms in the Mazon area with representatives from the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Illinois Soybean Association and the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
"It's my first time visiting a cornfield," said Chao-Yih Chen, chairman of the Taiwan Sugar Corporation. "I rode on a harvester today and they leave everything in the field but the corn. That is very good and sustainable."
He said he was surprised at the scientific way farmers use technology today and was amazed at the different monitors they watch as they are in their fields.
Chen-taung Wang, deputy minister of Taiwan's Council of Agriculture, told the small crowd gathered that the Taiwan Vegetable Oil Manufacturers Association plans to buy between 96 and 107 million bushels of soybeans over the two-year period from the United States.
He said based on today's market prices, it would mean $1.13 billion to $1.26 billion in sales, with Illinois bringing in $133 million from Taiwan's purchase of soybeans.
Illinois corn growers will see about $116 million based on current market prices. The Taiwan Feed Industry Association said it plans to purchase about 197 million bushels of corn and 500,000 metric tons of co-products.
"In 2014, Taiwan has imported more than $3.5 million worth of U.S. corn products," Wang said "This has helped strengthen trade between our two countries."
In 2014, Illinois soybean production ranked first in the nation at 548 million bushels, which was a record high for the state. Additionally, corn production ranked second in the nation at 2.35 billion bushels, topping the previous record of 2.28 billion bushels in 2007.