BOISE Gov. Butch Otter recently returned from eastern Asia where he was looking to expand Idaho's economy. Those who joined him on the trip are calling the trade mission a success.
Two men told us the trade mission went very well, in large part because of what Gov. Otter brought to the table.
The Idaho Eastern Oregon Onion Committee is just one of the 18 companies or industries that went on the six-day trade mission with the governor.
Onions are a world market; they generally are because they're very exportable. They have a really long shelf life, they're very durable, said Shay Myers, the General Manager for Owyhee Produce in Nyssa, Oregon. He's also on the Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Committee.
They're actually interested in having onions from this region there all of the time, said Myers.
Despite our region growing over one billion pounds of onions each year, enough to feed one quarter of the U.S. population, Myers says as shippers and growers they're always looking for ways to get into other markets.
It's just a matter of gaining traction, gaining understanding of what we supply and the quality of what we supply and it can be a great chance to expand our market, said Myers.
He says Gov. Otter was critical in getting real interest from two importers in Taiwan and a major retailer in South Korea.
He spoke as often as he could about our product, specifically to those customers when he could, so I think it made a significant impact, said Myers.
Jeff Sayer, the Director of the Idaho Department of Commerce, has seen the governor in action for the last three trade missions and says he is key in what happens overseas.
It's because of our governor and his ability to sell and his presence that he brings to the conversations, but it's also about the approach he takes, said Sayer.
And that is key, considering international trade is now over 10 percent of Idaho's economy.
If you look ahead and look at where global trade is going, Idaho needs to be a part of that, and these trade missions are our way of making sure Idaho is at the table and making that happen, said Sayer.
The Idaho Potato Commission, the Idaho Wheat Commission, Camille Beckman, Dynamite Marketing, Western U.S. Agriculture Trade Association and Melaleuca were some of the other companies and organizations that went to Asia with the governor.
Over the next few months we're expected to get more details about the agreements made between Idaho companies and the companies overseas.
Gov. Otter is planning another trade mission sometime this fall. Between now and then he and others in his office will meet with several Idaho companies to determine where they will go next.