Hoosier farmers travel to boost trade

Part of a U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) trade mission to Taiwan

As part of a U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) event, a small group of Hoosiers visited Taiwan from Nov. 13-15 to strengthen farm trade relationships. Indiana Soybean Alliance (ISA) CEO Courtney Kingery and Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) Director Bruce Kettler joined Nancy Cline of Kirklin, Ind., and Jim Douglas of Flat Rock, Ind., both farmers and ISA board members, in representing the state for USSEC’s 50th anniversary of working with Taiwan.

“It was a real interesting trip. It was very valuable in that we actually were able to meet the people who buy our soybeans,” Cline said. “I think these relationships are of prime importance. We talked about many things. They were interested in hearing about the way we tend our land. We were also able to ascertain what needs Taiwan has. I think those face-to-face meetings of building trust and confidence in one another is really going to be valuable.”

During the trade mission and conference, the Hoosier delegation visited Taiwanese food processors and government officials. The team discovered that, despite obvious differences, there are many similarities that tie the two countries together.

“If you relate this back to the farm, we really don’t do a lot of business with people we don’t know. It’s really the same way with international customers,” Douglas explained. “They want to come to Indiana and get out on the farm and see the operation and see the crops growing. They want us to visit their country; see what they’re doing with the product. Again, it’s a relationship, and it just takes years to build trust and establish the trade that we need.”

This trip comes shortly after trade representatives from Taiwan visited Indiana in September to sign agreements to buy millions of metric tons of U.S. soybeans and corn. ISA directors signed an agreement with the Taiwan Vegetable Oil Manufacturers Association to sell between 2.6-2.9 million metric tons, equivalent to 96-97 million bushels, of soybeans in 2020 and 2021. The net value of these purchases is estimated at $1-$1.1 billion.

“When we look at our relationships with Taiwan, this really builds on results of that September visit when they were in Indiana with a trade delegation and agreed to buy millions of tons of U.S. soybeans,” Kingery said. “Coming out of that, Taiwan made a commitment to buy 2.5-3 million metric tons of soybeans. That is roughly equivalent to 97 million bushels of soybeans.

“We have a partner that is that strong and is committed to use our soybeans. That has a direct impact on market access for Hoosier farmers.”

Taiwan imports all of its soybean needs for its 23 million consumers. In 2018, the United States supplied 86 percent of that market share. “They want a dependable product of high quality,” Douglas reported. “They just want a reliable source. They can’t run their factories without product. They’ve found the U.S. to be a reliable provider.”

“Trade agreements are negotiated by the federal government. They lay out the rules, they lay out what the agreement is going to look like,” said ISDA Director Kettler. “Unless you have these relationships, you’re not going to get the business. So good business is still done by creating good relationships with people.”



USSEC brings together U.S. soybean producers, merchandisers, commodity shippers, allied agribusinesses, processors and agricultural organizations to build a preference for U.S. Soy throughout the world. USSEC receives funding from a variety of sources including soy farmer checkoff dollars invested by the USB and various state soybean councils; cooperating industry; and the American Soybean Association’s investment of cost-share funding provided by the USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service.

— Indiana Soybean Alliance