Beans by the billions: MSR&PC, Taiwan ink purchasing agreement

The Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) signed a Letter of Intent on Thursday, Sept. 15, with the Taiwan Vegetable Oil Manufacturers Association (TVOA), an agreement worth approximately $2 billion that will benefit the state’s nearly 28,000 soybean farmers.

The private event was held in the Governor’s Reception Room at the Capitol alongside Taiwanese officials, Minnesota ag leaders and Gov. Tim Walz.

“Agriculture is the foundation of our state’s economy,” Gov. Walz said during his remarks at the event. “And our agricultural groups present here today are our ambassadors to the world.”

The agreement, which was last signed in 2018, is the culmination of soybean checkoff investments over the decades that focused on growing the Taiwanese market.

“It’s wonderful to participate in this agreement with our friends from Taiwan,” said Council Chair Joe Serbus, who signed the agreement on behalf of MSR&PC. “This is yet another example of how the soybean checkoff succeeds over the long haul, ultimately improving the profitability of Minnesota soybean farmers and generating economic activity across the state.”

In 2018, Council CEO Tom Slunecka joined Taiwanese leaders and Minnesota agriculture officials for a signing ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion. The following year, Slunecka, strengthened the relationships by participating in USDA’s first-ever Taiwanese trade mission.

MSR&PC Chair Joe Serbus (right) poses alongside TVOA Chairman Mr. Yau-Kuen Hung (second to right), Taiwanese officials and Gov. Tim Walz (second to left) after signing a Letter of Intent worth approximately $2 billion.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Minnesota farmers to be the location where a trade deal of this size is implemented,” said Slunecka, who also attended Thursday’s event. “Of all the places they could choose to buy soybeans, they chose Minnesota because of the quality and long-term relationships.”

The TVOA has pledged to purchase between 2.6 million and 2.9 million MT (equivalent to between 96 million and 107 million bushels) of soybeans between 2023 and 2024. The estimated value of these purchases totals between $1.9 billion-$2.1 billion.

In 2021, the total value of U.S. agricultural and related products exported to Taiwan reached $3.94 billion. As of 2021, Taiwan is the seventh largest market for U.S. agricultural exports. The U.S. supplies about 27% of Taiwan’s agricultural imports. Since 1998, Taiwan has imported 40.5 million MT (equivalent to 1.5 billion bushels) of soybeans, a value of $15.1 billion.

“The relationship we have built with Taiwan is a direct reflection of what Minnesota soybean checkoff dollars can do,” Slunecka said. “It takes time and commitment, but we are fortunate our farmer-leaders are dedicated to doing all they can to increase the value of our soybeans.”

In a goodwill gesture during spring 2020, Taiwan donated 29 boxes containing 100,000 surgical masks to Minnesota’s first responders to assist during the COVID-19 pandemic. The story was later featured as the cover story in Soybean Business Magazine.

“We have a relationship that’s rooted in respect,” Serbus said. “This was a great event, and I was proud to thank our friends from Taiwan for choosing high-quality Minnesota soybeans.”

Minnesota Soybean Growers Association President Bob Worth, who visited Taiwan in 2013, and Executive Director Joe Smentek, also appeared at the event. Earlier in September, MSGA visited with Taiwanese leaders at the Global Taiwan Institute in Washington, D.C.

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