Foreign Exchange Program

2023 USB Representative, Meghan O'Reilly,
meets with Schwartz Farms & Buyer in Taiwan

By Meghan O'Reilly, 2023 IFYE to Taiwan (Summer) and Zambia (Fall)
September 15, 2023

As a Northeast Ohio native and local grower of food grade soybeans, that are sold internationally, I never imagined I would have the opportunity to see where our soybeans were sold. I also never imagined I would be eating tofu as a staple in my diet. I can officially say that I am currently fulfilling both of these items and thoroughly enjoying it!

USB IFYE 2023 Representative Meghan O'Reilly

2023 USB Representative/IFYE Foreign Exchange Participant, Meghan O'Reilly

My name is Meghan O’Reilly, and I am a 2023 USA IFYE to Taiwan. I am spending the three months traveling, learning, and experiencing what Taiwan has to offer, specifically their agriculture industry. When I embarked on my IFYE experience I did not know that it would allow me to sit in on an international business meeting. Dan Schwartz, owner of Schwartz Farms in Cortland, Ohio, and his direct buyer of food grade soybeans in Taiwan, Mr. Lin, happened to be meeting to discuss purchase contracts for the upcoming year. This unexpected meeting showed me the end of the producer to consumer chain that my home farm is part of as a soybean grower.

With some travel we began our meeting at the storage facility for the soybeans. Once the soybeans arrive in Taiwan, they must be stored in an air-conditioned facility due to the elevated temperatures and humidity. This ensures the beans do not ferment and a quality product is being sold to every buyer. After a short warehouse tour, we sat down with a glass of freshly brewed green tea and got right down to business. As I listened to Mr. Lin's friend and translator explain the concerns and future business goals of Mr. Lin to Dan Schwartz, I realized just how important it was to have a face-to-face meeting. This time allowed for open communication, with the ability to further explain when there was a language barrier. The meeting concluded with a deal for continued business between Mr. Lin’s Company and Schwartz Farms. After a successful business meeting we shared a meal. This meal was a way to share in local culture while getting to know each other outside of business deals.


The afternoon was filled with a tour of a tofu producer that uses USA grown soybeans. The simple process of making tofu creates a wide variety of products that I have had the pleasure of trying every day since arriving in Taiwan. Silken, fried, dried, cold and hot, sweet and salty tofus all taste amazing and are made from the same soybeans! How are they all made from the same soybeans? There is an attention to detail that creates unique and distinct textures. These textures paired with local seasonings and sauces create the traditional cuisine of Taiwan. I highly recommend that every person gives tofu a try; not only will you be supporting the farmers who grow food grade soybeans, like my family, but also sharing traditional cultures from all around the world!

Learn more about Meghan O'Reilly, her previous international and Ag-related experiences and what she hopes to learn during her time in Taiwan and Zambia as a USA IFYE representative!