The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) hosted members of a Taiwan Agricultural Trade Goodwill Mission visiting Iowa to see the grain crop about to be harvested and to sign letters of intent for the purchase of soy and corn products.

At a ceremony set in the atrium of ISA’s new office on its first day in operation, ISA CEO Kirk Leeds read excerpts from the letter of intent, noting the long-term friendship between Taiwan and Iowa “in freedom, democracy and trade.”

“The signing of this letter of intent is important as it demonstrates the continued commitment of the Taiwan soybean crushing and feed industry to purchase and use U.S. soybeans,” Leeds says. “As the fourth-largest export market for U.S. soybeans, Taiwan remains an important market for Iowa and all U.S. soybean farmers. We appreciate the friendships and business relationships that the U.S. has enjoyed with Taiwan since 1949. We are grateful and honored by their willingness to travel to our new headquarters to sign this letter of intent to purchase.”

The letter spells out a purchase of 110-118 million bushels of soybeans in 2010 and 2011, valued at $1.35-1.4 billion.

In 2008 the U.S. exported 33 million metric tons, or 1.21 billion bushels, of soybeans, up 11% from the previous year. The U.S. has also exported 299 million bushels of soybean meal. Exports have accounted for 54% of the U.S. crop in the 2008-2009 fiscal year.

Delbert Christensen, a soybean grower from Audubon and president of ISA, signed the agreement on behalf of Iowa’s soybean growers. He and Leeds were both members of an ISA trade team that visited Taiwan earlier this year.

“This completes the cycle,” Christensen says. “After we visited some of these customers earlier this year, hoping to get a trade agreement, they’ve now made a return trip to visit us and to solidify our relationship and their intent to purchase Iowa and U.S. soybeans. We have accomplished our goal for making that visit.”

Sen. Charles Grassley was also on hand for the ceremony. He said Iowa and Taiwan have had a political friendship since 1949 and he thanked the visitors for their intention to “purchase our high quality products at a reasonable price.”

“Trade is a two-way street,” Grassley says. “We are thankful that you are here to buy our agricultural products. We also appreciate your products we can buy. This is the way to expand the world economy and benefits everyone throughout the world.”

“Personal relationships are very important,” Grassley adds. “They are good for the economy and for human understanding, which in turn is important to world peace.”

The Taiwan Agricultural Trade Goodwill Mission also included visits in Washington, D.C., Indiana, Illinois and Missouri before returning to Taiwan.