Arkansas officials host Taiwanese delegation during trade mission
Taiwan, a small group of islands off the coast of China ranging from as north as Japan and as south as the Philippines, relies on free trade with United States for one-quarter of its agricultural needs and one-sixth of its beef needs. The situation exists because only one quarter of the land is available for agriculture.
“Our people really appreciate American beef and we know exactly what our consumers want,” said Taipei Economic and Cultural Office Director in Houston, Philip Shih.
Taiwan recently sent a large cultural and trade goodwill mission to the United States. A part of that mission was an agricultural delegation which spanned Taiwan’s agricultural needs including wheat, soybean and beef sections.
The Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association hosted the delegation for two days. Cody Burkham, ACA executive vice president, explained the event was designed to offer a firsthand look at how Arkansas beef is produced, along with industry and political leaders.
Sam Cecil, the ACA Area Two Vice President and member of the Arkansas Beef Council, said Arkansas was selected as one of the four states to be visited on the delegation’s itinerary and as the site for the signing of a letter of intent for beef purchase.
The delegation’s visit included a formal reception and a dinner banquet on the first day, which, included beef as the focal point of the food offerings.
The second day of the tour featured a meeting with Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and a trip to a local beef operation, the Big D Ranch in Center Point, Ark.
The Big D Ranch, owned by the DeSalvo family, offered delegates a glimpse of Arkansas agricultural life.
Philip and Beth DeSalvo work the ranch full time, as does Phillip’s father Tony and the couple’s children, Ben and Isabella, helping out as needed.
“I appreciate my new view of different American lifestyles, especially our visit to the DeSalvo farm. The land had mountains and was green and fertile like our own rural land but there is so much more of it, obviously a great place for cows,” exclaimed delegation member I-Lin Chu.
The DeSalvo ranch runs a substantial Brangus and Ultrablack breeding stock operation.
The delegation had the opportunity to see different sections of the operation, including viewing of young bulls, two current herd sires, as well as cow/calf pairs and a weaning barn.
They also saw a covered working pen area with an additional side for sales. Phillip and Beth explained the operation with the occasional help of a translator. Delegates were also shown a handful of rations so they could view the mix and samples of pasture grass.
Among the topics discussed by the DeSalvos were designing different rations according to season and the age of the different groups, the meaning of the brand on the cattle and how the working pens functioned. They also got an explanation of the purpose of DNA and ultrasound testing in terms of ensuring quality production.
“What was especially interesting to me was the care and emphasis the DeSalvos placed on nutrition and the extensive use of DNA and ultrasound technologies,” Philip Shih said.
The visit culminated in a formal signing ceremony at the Capitol.
Cody Burkham served as the master of ceremonies. Signing the letter of intent for the purchase of American beef in the next year were president of the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association Bernie Freeman and delegation leader Ming-Sui Kao, superintendent of Taiwan Frozen Meat Packers Association, who expressed a sincere hope for continued free trade and excellent relations with United States.
In 2017 and 2018, Taiwan purchased $960 million worth of U.S. beef, according to Michelle Bufkin, membership director of the ACA.
“Agriculture is Arkansas’s number one industry and has a tremendously successful beef industry. We appreciate Taiwan’s interest and the opportunity to talk to any country about our agricultural products,” Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward said.