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U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is the industry’s market development organization working in more than 100 countries. Its mission is to “develop, maintain and expand international markets to enhance wheat’s profitability for U.S. wheat producers and its value for their customers.” USW activities are funded by producer checkoff dollars managed by 17 state wheat commissions and USDA Foreign Agricultural Service cost-share programs. For more information, visit www.uswheat.org or contact your state wheat commission.

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In This Issue:
1. USDA Reports Offer Early Snapshots of 2018/19 U.S. Winter Wheat Crop
2. Annual Crop Quality Seminars Help Customers Make Purchasing and Milling Decisions
3. New Consumer Food Safety Resources for Flour Millers
4. Hoping the Good News on EU Re-registration of Glyphosate is Not Meaningless
5. Northern Crops Institute Names Next Director
6. Wheat Industry News

PDF Edition: November 30, 2017 (See attached file: Wheat Letter - November 30, 2017.pdf)


1. USDA Reports Offer Early Snapshots of 2018/19 U.S. Winter Wheat Crop
From USDA and Media Reports

Hours of work will come to fruition this week for market analysts at USDA and the farmers and buyers they serve. The results of some new reports provide an early look at the next U.S. winter wheat crop, which includes hard red winter (HRW), soft red winter (SRW) and fall-planted soft white (SW) classes.

Starting with a brief look back, we do know that U.S. farmers harvested the smallest area of wheat in 2017 since detailed records started in 1919. That was not a surprise because USDA had estimated planted area for all wheat classes, including spring wheat, for 2017/18 at a similar record low. Winter wheat planted area was down 9 percent from 2016/17.

New estimates suggest the base will be even lower for 2018/19. Reuters reported Nov. 28 that USDA estimates U.S. farmers are likely to expand corn and soybean plantings while reducing wheat seedings to 45.0 million acres for 2018/19, down from the record low of 46.0 million for 2017/18. Reuters noted that the forecasts are developed by consensus within the USDA on a long-term scenario for the agricultural sector for the next decade. USDA will release its complete report on projections for the next 10 years in February.

Arlan Suderman, chief commodities economist for INTL FCStone, expects U.S. wheat farmers will continue plant less wheat because of the price pressure from the record global wheat stocks. He estimates seeded area will be down another 4 percent to 6 percent in 2018. Suderman said the strong U.S. dollar pressures demand for U.S. wheat while encouraging wheat expansion overseas, such as in the Black Sea region. He believes markets that value high quality wheat and strong protein offer stronger opportunity for U.S. wheat.

As a counterpoint, a poll by a national agricultural publication fielded last July suggests farmers may slightly increase wheat seedings. The Farm Futures magazine survey found growers wanting to boost wheat seedings by 2.5 million acres to 48.1 million, a 5.4 percent increase over 2017. The survey suggested that winter wheat would make up nearly 90 percent of that increase.

The first official estimate of winter wheat planted area from USDA will be released January 12, 2018.

USDA’s latest conditions report released on Nov. 26 suggests the new HRW wheat crop seeded in the Central and Southern Plains is stressed by dry weather. Oklahoma farm broadcaster Ron Hays reported that “winter wheat crop ratings continue to slide as Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas wheat conditions all fell in the latest reporting week. Oklahoma has seen its good to excellent score on the 2018 wheat crop drop from 41 percent two weeks ago to 30 percent this week; Kansas dropped five points from two weeks ago to 51 percent good to excellent and Texas dropped ten percentage points to 36 percent good with no score for excellent in this week's final weekly score of the season.”

On Nov. 30, USDA will issue a quarterly update to its forecast of U.S. farm exports for fiscal year 2018 (Oct. 2017 to Sept. 2018). In a previous report, USDA said the total of $140.5 billion for FY2017 ended a two-year decline and was the third-highest on record. USDA currently forecasts U.S. wheat exports for marketing year 2017/18 at 27.2 million metric tons (MMT), down slightly from 28.7 MMT in 2016/17.


2. Annual Crop Quality Seminars Help Customers Make Purchasing and Milling Decisions
By Amanda Spoo, USW Assistant Director of Communications

Each year, after thousands of wheat crop samples are analyzed and the results are published in the USW Crop Quality Report, USW invites its overseas customers, including buyers, millers and processors, to seminars led by USW staff, U.S. wheat farmers, state wheat commission staff and educational partner organizations. The seminars dive into grade factors, protein levels, flour extraction rates, dough stability, baking loaf volume, noodle color and texture and more for all six U.S. wheat classes, and are tailored to focus on the needs and trends in each regional market.

In 2017, USW hosted 33 seminars in 25 countries, and many reported seeing record participation. Customers share that they use the report throughout the year as a reference manual and to guide them through purchases and future planning. The seminars provide a first look at the overall crop and a deep dive into the data and how to use it.

"The crop quality booklet is very useful for us as millers for reference and information on wheat quality available for production,” said one participant from Indonesia.

“If we encounter quality issues in our products, we use the wheat quality data to help us make necessary adjustments,” said participants from the Philippines.

Customers will often use the seminars and report as educational training for new employees.

The reports and seminars have been a traditional part of USW’s strategy since 1959, growing to become its single largest marketing activity.


3. New Consumer Food Safety Resources for Flour Millers

Two new resources developed by milling and baking organizations in North America that communicate how consumers can reduce the risk of food-related illness are now available. The North American Millers’ Association (NAMA) and the Canadian National Millers Association (CNMA) have produced a new food safety educational video designed to help eliminate the food safety risk associated with wheat flour by educating consumers on proper handling and baking instructions. In addition, NAMA worked with the U.S. based Home Baking Association to add specific information to its “Baking 101” resource about how consumers can minimize food safety risks with raw flour.

“Wheat is a healthy and wholesome grain, and an important part of the global food supply,” said NAMA President and CEO James A. McCarthy. “From farm to kitchen, the entire wheat industry is committed to best practices for food safety, and the simple and easy to use video is designed to help consumers understand and apply proper handling and baking procedures so they can safely enjoy their favorite baked goods.”

NAMA, CNMA and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration advise that flour is made from wheat grown and harvested on the farm, and it is possible for wheat to be exposed to environmental sources of E. coli and other bacteria that may present a food safety risk. Thus, raw flour is not ready to eat, and consumers should not eat or taste raw flour, dough or batter prior to cooking or baking as they can cause illness if harmful bacteria are present. However, proper cooking and baking eliminates the food safety risk associated with E. coli and other bacteria in raw wheat flour, dough and batter.

“An informed consumer is a safe consumer when it comes to food safety and at-home baking,” said CNMA President Gordon Harrison. “This video will make it easier for consumers to understand and implement a few simple food safety precautions that help protect them and their families.”

USW has posted the video on its YouTube channel. It is also posted on the CNMA website.

The “Baking 101” developed by the Home Baking Associations now features these baking food safety steps:

1. Store raw flour, baking mixes, dough and eggs separately from ready-to-eat foods.
2. Before baking, tie back long hair, clean counters, assemble ingredients and equipment, wash hands, and apron-up.
3. Keep separate the measuring, mixing and handling of unbaked batter or dough from cooling, serving and packaging of baked products.
4. Test baked products with wooden toothpick or cake tester and food thermometer at center to ensure products are completely baked.
5. Clean tools, work surfaces and equipment with hot, soapy water or in dishwasher.
6. Wash hands before you taste, serve or package baked goods.


4. Hoping the Good News on EU Re-registration of Glyphosate is Not Meaningless
By Ben Conner, USW Director of Policy

Many European farmers breathed a sigh of relief this week as the European Commission chose to extend registration of the broad-spectrum herbicide glyphosate for five years. But farmers in Europe and elsewhere around the world are justifiably worried about the challenges represented by the European Union’s pesticide policy.

The extension of glyphosate approval is good news — even a bit surprising. The European Food Safety Authority has been emphatic in its position that glyphosate presents no human safety hazard when used in compliance with regulations. Yet the Commission only extended the registration for five years based only on a political compromise rather than sound scientific evidence or and accepted risk assessment standards. The activists trying to derail the glyphosate approval process are ignoring the integrity of that agency’s risk assessment process, which undermine the principles of scientific approaches to regulation.

The fight over glyphosate re-registration is symptomatic of broader concerns about pesticide policies in the European Union. Its so-called “hazard-based” approach to registration of certain pesticides and innovative plant breeding ignores scientific risk assessments that lead to standards for proper use of pesticides. This creates a greater risk of major trade disruptions, potentially including wheat and certainly including other food ingredients.

It should be noted that there are many well-meaning individuals who are sincerely concerned about the safety of their food supply and environment. As the father of two small children, I can certainly understand that. But to my mind, being able to put food on the table and ensure our planet can support future generations clearly outweighs immeasurably small odds of harm. My children deserve to live in a world that is willing to thoughtfully evaluate the risks and rewards of progress, based not on fear, but rather on accepted scientific evidence and standards.


5. Northern Crops Institute Names Next Director

Everyone at USW is looking forward to working with Mark Jirik who was recently selected as the next director at the Northern Crops Institute (NCI), Fargo, N.D.

NCI is a respected educational partner with USW that supports regional agriculture and value-added processing by conducting educational and technical programs that expand and maintain markets for northern-grown crops. After working closely with Mark Weber over the six years he led NCI, USW was sad to learn that he planned to retire at the end of 2017. With Mark Jirik’s background, NCI should not miss a beat in the transition.

“We are confident that Mark is the right choice to lead NCI,” said Northern Crops Council Chairman Greg Kessel, a producer from Belfield, N.D.

Jirik has more than 17 years of experience in commodity merchandising and commercial management at Cargill. He earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from North Dakota State University and a master’s degree in agricultural economics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

We wish Mark Jirik the best of luck in this new position, and we also wish Mark Weber a very long and happy retirement.


6. Wheat Industry News
  • Quote of the Week: “When it comes to wheat, quality is not an accident, nor is it the result of Mother Nature. It is the result of the large investment of money by growers over a number of years in land grant university breeding programs.” – USW Vice President and West Coast Office Director Steve Wirsching.
  • The Feeding the Economy study, commissioned by 22 food and agriculture groups, including the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG), found that the economic contributions from the food industry represented more the 20 percent of the overall U.S. economy this year, totaling more than $6 trillion. The study considered jobs, wages, taxes and exports, breaking down the data state-by-state. Read more here and see the full results of the study here.


Nondiscrimination and Alternate Means of Communications
USW prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender, marital or family status, age, disability, political beliefs or sexual orientation. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USW at 202-463-0999 (TDD/TTY - 800-877-8339, or from outside the U.S., 605-331-4923). To file a complaint of discrimination, write to Vice President of Finance, USW, 3103 10th Street, North, Arlington, VA 22201, or call 202-463-0999. USW is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
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