BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) -- Taiwan has agreed to buy $484.5 million worth of U.S. wheat over the next two years, much of it from North Dakota, officials said Wednesday.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple and Taiwanese milling industry officials signed the agreement Wednesday afternoon at the North Dakota Capitol in Bismarck.
U.S. Sen. John Hoeven said North Dakota, Montana and Idaho will provide the bulk of the 62.5 million bushels to Taiwan.
Jim Peterson, marketing director for the North Dakota Wheat Commission, said Taiwan is the six-largest importer of U.S. wheat, purchasing an average of more than 30 million bushels annually, including 18 million bushels of hard spring wheat, North Dakota's staple crop that is used in making bread or blended with other wheat types for noodles.
North Dakota accounts for about half of the nation's spring wheat crop, and the two-year deal announced Wednesday with the Taiwanese is worth about $200 million to the state's farmers, Peterson said.
Taiwan, which has only one-fifth the land mass of North Dakota and a population of more than 23 million, has been one of the state's biggest and most dependable markets for hard spring wheat, said Dalrymple, whose family has grown wheat in North Dakota since the late 1880s.
"Anyone who buys wheat from North Dakota is a friend of ours," the governor said.
North Dakota wheat is sold to more than 80 countries, and Taiwan is the state's third-largest market behind Japan and the Philippines, Peterson said. Taiwan has been doing business with the state's wheat growers for nearly 50 years, he said.
Taiwanese millers prize North Dakota hard spring wheat for its high protein, quality, color and shelf life, Peterson said.
"They've been very good customers," Peterson said of Taiwanese millers. "They pay premium prices and they pay cash. They've never used credit."
Taiwan also has signed letters of intent to buy more than $3 billion in corn and soybeans in 2014 and 2015, with some of it coming from North Dakota, Hoeven said.
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- North Dakota