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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 the profitability of U.S. wheat producers and their customers.” The activities of USW are made possible by producer checkoff dollars managed by 19 state wheat commissions and through cost-share funding provided by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. For more information, visit or contact your state wheat commission. Original articles from Wheat Letter may be reprinted without permission; source attribution is requested. Click here to subscribe or unsubscribe to Wheat Letter.

In This Issue:
1. USDA Provides First By-Class Harvest Estimates of the Year
2. North Dakota Wheat Farmer Installed as USW Chairman
3. International Trade Policy Leaders Review Key Issues at USW Summer Board Meeting
4. USW Announces Two New Staff Assignments
5. Erica Oakley Joins USW as Programs Manager
6. Wheat Industry News

Online Edition: Wheat Letter – July 16, 2015

PDF Edition: (See Attached) (See attached file: Wheat Letter - July 16, 2015.pdf)

USW Harvest Report: Published every Friday online at

1. USDA Provides First By-Class Harvest Estimates of the Year
By Casey Chumrau, USW Market Analyst

It has been a challenging year for many wheat farmers across the United States. With more than 65 percent of winter wheat in the bins and the spring wheat crop maturing, USDA provided the first by-class estimates of the year in its monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) on July 10. The report delivered optimistic production news for hard wheat farmers, but was not as generous to soft wheat growers.

Despite weather challenges, USDA increased U.S. production from its June estimate by 740,000 metric tons (MT) to 58.5 million metric tons (MMT). That is 6 percent more than last year. If realized, it would be the largest crop in three years despite having the lowest estimated planted area in that same period. USDA expects production will increase in all but one class. Thanks to favorable weather in spring wheat areas, USDA increased total projected planted area to 56.1 million acres, down from 56.8 million last year but greater than the five-year average of 55.1 million acres.

The multiple year drought in the southern U.S. plains that gave way to flooding rains in May affected a key part of the hard red winter (HRW) production region. Harvest is nearly complete in that region and though there is much variability, many farmers are seeing better than expected yields and quality. USDA’s latest estimates show somewhat better crop conditions as the harvest moves into the northern plains. USDA pegged total HRW production at 23.6 MMT, which would be up 17 percent from last year and slightly better than the five-year average of 23.2 MMT. USDA expects HRW exports will rebound slightly to 8.02 MMT after hitting an all-time low in 2014/15 at 7.35 MMT. If realized, HRW exports will fall short of the five-year average of 11.5 MMT.

Growers of both hard red spring (HRS) and northern durum are very optimistic ahead of harvest. Conditions have been favorable for both classes throughout the season. In fact, USDA increased its crop condition rating of spring wheat on July 12 from the previous week, putting 71 percent of the crop in good or excellent condition categories. Only 6 percent of the crop is considered poor or very poor. USDA now anticipates HRS production to reach the highest level since 1996/97, despite having the fifth smallest planted area in that 20-year period. USDA expects durum production will increase 42 percent year-over-year to 2.06 MMT, besting the five-year production average by 11 percent despite an average planted area. High protein wheat from other suppliers is likely to be limited again this year, setting up excellent export prospects. USDA predicts HRS and durum sales both will be the highest since 2010/11. According to USDA, HRS exports will reach 8.85 MMT, 22 percent greater than the five-year average and durum exports will reach 1.09 MMT, compared to the five-year average of 903,000 MT.

The July WASDE painted a different picture of soft wheat classes. USDA projects white wheat production, the majority of which is soft wheat, will increase 7 percent to 6.51 MMT, but extreme heat and dry conditions have cut the crop potential. Average yield predictions dropped from a June estimate as conditions worsened. Despite planting the most white wheat acres in five years, farmers will see total 2015/16 production fall below the five-year average of 7.28 MMT, USDA predicted. There is a brighter spot for white wheat farmers: USDA expects exports will increase 6 percent year-over-year to 4.22 MMT, although that volume would fall short of the five-year average of 4.86 MMT.

The prospects for soft red winter (SRW) have not improved as harvest progresses, which the July WASDE reflected. The effects of excessive rains the last few months resulted in lower than anticipated yields, further reducing an already small crop. USDA predicts total 2015/16 SRW production will reach 10.7 MMT, down 14 percent from last year and short of the five-year average of 11.5 MMT. However, USDA does expect SRW exports to increase 2 percent from last year to 3.67 MMT, which would be short of the five-year average of 4.81 MMT.

There is still a long time before all the wheat is harvested, but USDA provided some early benchmarks with its July WASDE. You can follow the harvest progress in the weekly USW Harvest Reports.

2. North Dakota Wheat Farmer Installed as USW Chairman
By Amanda J. Spoo, USW Communications Specialist

Crop yields, market prices and weather are all a part of a wheat farmer’s daily conversation and often before they finish their second cup of morning coffee. It is all in a day’s work for Brian O’Toole, whose zest for farming is driven by his curiosity.

“I love what I do and becoming involved in leadership positions within the wheat industry is important to me because there is always more to learn,” said O’Toole, a wheat farmer and seedsman from Crystal, ND. “When half of our wheat production in the United States is available every year for export markets, it is important to learn why we grow it, who is using it and what the customers expect from farmers.”

This week O’Toole took the reins as Chairman of the U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Board of Directors during the organization’s annual meeting July 12 to 15, 2015 in San Diego, CA, and will spend the next year leading the organization. He received the gavel from Roy Motter, a Desert Durum® farmer from Brawley, CA, who completed his year as Chairman at the meeting.,

“I am honored to continue representing all U.S. wheat farmers overseas,” O’Toole said. “I truly believe that the work this organization does in overseas education and promotion is essential to marketing our wheat. It’s a growing world and I am excited to be a part of the mission to maintain and build demand around the world.”

O’Toole is the third generation on T.E. O’Toole Farms, a century farm where he works alongside his cousin Tom O’Toole, daughter Allison Olimb and son Kelly O’Toole. They produce HRS wheat and several varieties of wheat seed, navy beans, black beans, pinto beans, soybeans, corn and sugar beets.

Farming and family have always gone hand-in-hand for the O’Tooles. Brian’s wife Sara, four grown children and three grandchildren each have a role on the family farm. After growing up on the farm and attending the State School of Science in Wahpeton, ND, O’Toole began his own farming career by renting land and growing potatoes. He then started a trucking business to haul his potatoes to processing plants in the southeast part of the country. In 1996, O’Toole took over the small seed cleaning and conditioning business that his father had started. Since then, the business has expanded considerably. He is President of T.E. O’Toole Farm Seed Co., which conditions 250,000 bushels of wheat and 800,000 bushels of soybeans annually, as well as storing navy and pinto beans for Viterra in Carmen, Manitoba.

“My family is involved so heavily with the success of this farm. We have learned that farming has good and bad years and you pray for more good than bad,” said O’Toole. “A farmer looks to the sky knowing the approaching clouds could either bring him an abundant harvest or wash away any chance of it. The values of our family farm can best be measured in the appreciation my children have for the land and their willingness to put feeding a hungry world over personal material value.”

Serving as a leader in agriculture and his community is a common role that O’Toole has as a farmer. He has served as a North Dakota wheat commissioner since 2005 and on a number of state and local boards, including the Wheat Marketing Center and its Lab Services Board, Agronomy Seed Farm, SBARE Wheat Granting Committee, North Dakota Crop Improvement and Seed Association, and Crystal Farmers Elevator Co-op. Other boards that O’Toole has been involved in include the Red River Potato Growers Association, Pembina County Memorial Hospital Board, Pembina County Farm Bureau and at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. O’Toole has previously received the Young Outstanding Farmer Award, Master Farmer Award and Friends of 4-H Award. He and Sara were also Pembina County North Dakota State University Harvest Bowl Honorees.

Looking ahead, Brian and Sara will have an important role in representing U.S. wheat farmers.

“U.S. wheat has loyal overseas customers who continue to see the value and quality in the product they are purchasing,” said O’Toole. “It is important to be at their doorsteps because there is still new information to share each year. That is why USW continues to sustain its commitment to our industry and its relationships with our customers.”

Other officers installed at the USW meeting included Jason Scott, Stevensville, MD, as Vice Chairman and Mike Miller, Ritzville, WA, as Secretary-Treasurer. Last year’s Chairman Motter, transitioned to Past Chairman and Chairman of the USW Budget Committee. USW officers were elected to these one-year positions at the January 2015 Winter Wheat Conference in Washington, DC.

USW's next board meeting will be held jointly with the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) in Lake Tahoe, NV, November 3 to 6, 2015.

3. International Trade Policy Leaders Review Key Issues at USW Summer Board Meeting
By Dalton Henry, USW Director of Policy

Members of the NAWG and USW Joint International Trade Policy Committee (JITPC) met during the 2015 USW Summer Board Meeting July 12 to 15, 2015 to discuss barriers to world wheat trade, faced by U.S. growers and their overseas customers. Those in attendance included growers from the across the member-states of USW.

Members received updates on the USW wheat sectoral initiative, a project aimed at creating an agreement among countries to eliminate both import and export barriers to trade. The measure would increase food security in importing countries by ensuring that participating nations would have reliable access to wheat supplies in exporting nations.

Representatives from several countries expressed support for the concept presented at the World Trade Organization in June in Geneva, Switzerland by USW President Alan Tracy and Policy Consultant Shannon Schlecht. The proposal would also remove tariffs and other import barriers, leading to lower costs for millers and consumers around the world.

Committee members also received updates on the status of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, which are progressing quickly after congressional passage of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) in June. There will be a TPP ministerial conference at the end of July 2015 in Hawaii where some analysts believe the negotiations could finally conclude.

NAWG Legislative Director Josh Tonsager joined the committee to provide an overview of current, active congressional topics. One in particular, reauthorization of the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS), will likely move in Congress in the near future. The reauthorization bill is of key importance to USW and their customers, who rely on the inspection service to guarantee the content and quality of wheat shipments. The inspection agency’s current authorization expires September 30.

Tonsager was pleased to share that it appears the final FGIS legislation will include language guaranteeing that inspection services continue uninterrupted in the event of future labor disputes. NAWG and USW support that legislative change seeing it as essential to prevent a repeat of inspection interruptions that occurred in summer 2014 at the Port of Vancouver.

The committee meeting will hold its next meeting at a joint USW and NAWG boards of directors meeting November 3 to 6, 2015 in Lake Tahoe, NV.

4. USW Announces Two New Staff Assignments

USW recently announced that Market Analyst Casey Chumrau will transfer to the organization’s Santiago, Chile, office as Marketing Manager for South America, and Planning and Programs Assistant Stephanie Bryant-Erdmann will move into the Market Analyst position. Each have started a transition to their new assignments, which will officially start in mid-September 2015.

“Casey is taking a newly created position in a region where wheat demand is growing in several markets,” said USW Vice President of Overseas Operations Vince Peterson. “We are happy we can provide this kind of opportunity to a talented young associate and at the same time expand our ability to serve customers in ways that increase demand for U.S. wheat.”

Latin America now represents about 40 percent of total U.S. wheat exports. Annual exports to South America the past five years averaged 3.3 MMT and included five of the six U.S. wheat classes. That represents significant growth compared to the five-year annual average of 2.2 MMT per year as of marketing year 2011/12 (June to May).

Chumrau, who joined USW in 2011, will report to Regional Vice President Alvaro de la Fuente. A Montana native, Chumrau earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Montana and bachelor’s degrees in history and Spanish from the University of Oregon. Fluent in Spanish, Chumrau also studied abroad in Chile and Italy and spent a year working in Costa Rica.

Bryant-Erdmann was raised and worked on her family’s Nebraska cattle ranch and earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in agricultural education. Her master’s program thesis at Cornell University’s Institute for Public Affairs focused on the economic feasibility of exporting Kenyan cheese to the United Arab Emirates. At the same time, she was working as an intern at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Trade Information Center where she helped create educational materials for U.S. organizations looking to export products and services.

“Stephanie joined our organization a year ago and quickly demonstrated competence and an interest in new assignments like this,” said Vice President of Communications Steve Mercer. “Market analysis is a big part of our outreach to overseas wheat buyers and our industry stakeholders at home so that position is moving into our communications function.”

5. Erica Oakley Joins USW as Programs Manager

USW welcomed Erica Oakley to its Arlington, VA, headquarters office staff as Programs Manager July 6, 2015. In that position, Oakley is helping implement export market development activities planned and managed by USW’s domestic staff, including consulting assignments, board team trips and assistance with customer conferences. She reports to Director of Programs and Planning Jennifer Sydney.

“We are pleased to have Erica join us in an important position,” Sydney says. “Her experience and interest in international food marketing and assistance is exceptional.”

Oakley joins USW after serving as an Associate at Humanitas Global, Washington, DC, since 2012. There she managed programs in food and nutrition security, food sustainability, agriculture and public-private partnership development. Members and funders of this non-governmental organization include the World Food Prize, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization.

She also worked in Washington as a Program Associate at AED, now FHI 360, supporting a USAID Title II-funded Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance II (FANTA-2) project working to strengthen food security and nutrition policies, programs, and systems. Before that, Oakley was a Project Associate at Washington-based Futures Group.

A native of North Carolina, Oakley earned a bachelor’s degree in international studies at Meredith College, Raleigh, NC, and a master’s degree in international relations from Utrecht University in The Netherlands.

6. Wheat Industry News
  • Michael Dwyer Joins U.S. Grains Council (USGC) as Chief Economist. In this newly created role, Dwyer will lead an expansion of the USGC’s strategic thinking about the global marketplace. Previously Dwyer worked for USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) as the director of global policy analysis, responsible for conducting and coordinating analyses on a wide variety of strategic issues that affected U.S. and world agricultural trade. USW frequently collaborates with USGC in customer outreach and looks forward to continuing that work with Dwyer.
  • The Henry J. Stumpf International Wheat Center officially opened June 23 in Grant, NE, in conjunction with a West Central Water and Crops Field Day to begin the process of becoming a hub for agriculture science. The center will do international research, demonstrations and teach wheat-based system practices. According to university officials, the practices done at the wheat center will be “applicable to wheat production worldwide.” Read the full story on the announcement here.
  • Saskatchewan Wheat Research and Development Center Planned. Canterra Seeds and France-based Limagrain have announced an agreement to establish a new cereal breeding and development partnership, Limagrain Cereals Research Canada, to be located in Saskatoon, SK. This new partnership aims to develop new varieties of cereals, with a specific focus on wheat, using the most advanced technologies currently available. Read the full story on the announcement here.
  • WestBred Dedicates Wheat Technology Center. This week, wheat seed company WestBred officially dedicated its new research and development center in Twin Falls, ID. Rather than having breeders and technologies spread across five locations, people and processes work together at the center to improve the quality and speed of innovation in wheat. More information will be available at
  • Congratulations to Monique den Ouden and Her Family on their newest addition. A baby girl, Sunny, was born Thursday, June 25, 2015 weighing 2,300 grams. Monique represents USW as a secretary in its Rotterdam office. According to the other Rotterdam staff, “Sunny is gaining weight and is catching up with all the other blushing Dutch babies.”

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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