Bi-khim Hsiao (third from left), Taiwan’s representative to the U.S., visited a ginseng farm in Wausau Sept. 30. Also pictured, from left to right: Governor Tony Evers, Ginseng Board of Wisconsin President Robert Kaldunski, WEDC Secretary Missy Hughes, Wausau Mayor Katie Rosenberg, and Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Randy Romanski.
Wisconsin farmers have been growing ginseng for more than a century, and in fact, ginseng grown in Wisconsin accounts for more than 90% of all ginseng produced in the U.S.–with central Wisconsin at the epicenter due to its cool summers, long winter, clean water and virgin soil, and Marathon County producing 95% of Wisconsin’s crop.
Dignitaries gathered to celebrate this rich history and the strong present-day trade relationship between Wisconsin and Taiwan, which imported nearly $1 million worth of Wisconsin ginseng in 2020 (out of a total of $19 million in Wisconsin ginseng exports worldwide).
Bi-khim Hsiao, Taiwan’s representative to the U.S., visited a ginseng farm in Wausau Sept. 30 to meet with Wausau Mayor Katie Rosenberg; Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Secretary Randy Romanski; WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes; and Governor Tony Evers, who proclaimed September Wisconsin American Ginseng Month.
“Wisconsin is the top producer of cultivated ginseng in the United States and is known around the world for having the highest-quality ginseng,” said Governor Evers. “This is a great opportunity to connect our state’s ginseng growers with trade leaders from Taiwan and further strengthen our ties.”
“Taiwanese consumers have a long tradition of appreciating ginseng products, and with Taiwan being Wisconsin’s third-largest ginseng market, we look forward to further expanding this trade. I am glad to join Governor Evers and other leaders to support this cooperation,” said Representative Hsiao.
“The Wausau area has a long, proud history in ginseng production and exportation,” said Mayor Rosenberg. “I’m thrilled to welcome Taiwanese Representative Hsiao and Governor Evers to our community to discuss successes and opportunities and to foster conversations about how we can continue to cultivate these important relationships that build our economy locally and globally.”
“Wisconsin ginseng is recognized internationally for its quality. That is a credit to the growers and an economic benefit to our state,” said Secretary Romanski. “DATCP’s International Agri-Business Center continually looks for opportunities to open or expand markets for Wisconsin ginseng and other agricultural or food products. Thank you to Representative Hsiao for making the trip to Wisconsin, and to Hsu’s Ginseng for hosting us today.”
“Wisconsin’s leadership as the world’s premier producer of high-quality ginseng is an important part of our state’s export strategy,” said Secretary Hughes. “WEDC is pleased that leaders from one of our top markets have the chance to see our ginseng farms up close.”
The Ginseng Board of Wisconsin has been working on opening the fresh ginseng root market of Taiwan for nearly 15 years. Taiwan recently published its protocol for importing fresh ginseng from the U.S., so local leaders are hoping this may create more opportunities for Taiwanese consumers to enjoy Wisconsin’s high-quality ginseng.
“We are excited by the new opportunity that the fresh ginseng market will offer to Wisconsin ginseng producers and ginseng consumers in Taiwan,” said Robert Kaldunski, Ginseng Board of Wisconsin president. “Taiwan is a growing market for the industry where Wisconsin ginseng is primarily used in traditional Chinese medicine, teas and sold at the retail level in the form of tea, slices and roots.”
Governor Evers, Representative Hsiao, Mayor Rosenberg, and Secretaries Romanski and Hughes visited Hsu’s Ginseng Garden, a family farm founded in 1974 that employs about 100 people nationwide, with the majority at the headquarters in Wausau.
“Our company and our family are honored to have Governor Evers and Representative Hsiao visit our ginseng farm, as our Wisconsin-grown crop is almost exclusively consumed by foreigners or destined for sale in export markets such as Taiwan,” said owner Will Hsu. “We are a second-generation business that was founded by my parents, who immigrated from Taiwan. For nearly 50 years, our company has relied on access to foreign markets and free trade, but as a result of reduced commerce between the U.S. and Asia, local farmers and businesses like ours are suffering. This shows how, in a global economy, decisions made in other parts of the world can have severe and adverse ripple effects thousands of miles away here in Wausau. We hope that today’s event can foster mutual understanding and improve the ginseng trade in a way that strengthens the ties between the local farmers in Wisconsin and our loyal consumers in Asia.”