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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.” USW activities are funded by producer checkoff dollars managed by 18 state wheat commissions and USDA Foreign Agricultural Service cost-share programs. For more information, visit www.uswheat.org or contact your state wheat commission. Stakeholders may reprint original articles from Wheat Letter with source attribution. Click here to subscribe or unsubscribe to Wheat Letter.

In This Issue:
1. Large Carry-In Stocks Represent Opportunities for Buyers
2. USW Staff and Stakeholders Attend Canadian Global Crops Symposium
3. Cubans and U.S. Grain Trade Officials Meet to Discuss New Opportunities
4. Celebrating Productive Partnerships from Generation to Generation
5. Japanese Executive Millers Return for Annual U.S. Wheat Tour
6. Wheat Industry News

Online Edition: Wheat Letter – April 21, 2016 (See attached file: Wheat Letter - April 21, 2016.pdf)

USW Price Reports: http://www.uswheat.org/prices


1. Large Carry-In Stocks Represent Opportunities for Buyers
By Stephanie Bryant-Erdmann, USW Market Analyst

A perfect storm of low domestic prices, an abundant supply of wheat, a strong U.S. dollar and slow export demand hit U.S. wheat farmers in 2015/16. For their downstream and overseas customers these conditions represent the chance to take advantage of a rare trifecta of low futures prices, low basis and cheap ocean freight.

Marketing year 2015/16 has been one for the wheat record books. Despite record global consumption, a third year of record global production resulted in record global ending stocks, which pushed wheat futures markets to 5-year lows. In 2015/16, Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) soft red winter (SRW) nearby futures averaged $180 per metric ton (MT), down 8 percent from 2014/15 and 26 percent lower than the 5-year average. Kansas City Board of Trade (KCBT) hard red winter (HRW) nearby futures averaged $177/MT compared to $218/MT in 2014/15 and 33 percent below the 5-year average. Average Minneapolis Grain Exchange (MGEX) hard red spring (HRS) nearby futures were 32 percent below the 5-year average in 2015/16 at $191/MT, $27/MT lower than 2014/15.

The low futures prices encouraged U.S. farmers to store a substantial portion of their 2015/16 production. On March 1, USDA’s Quarterly Grain Stocks estimated on-farm wheat stocks at 8.71 million metric tons (MMT), up 15 percent from this time last year. Farmers are holding large stocks of wheat on their farms and off-farm in commercial storage facilities. USDA estimated off-farm inventory accounted for 69 percent of total U.S. stocks and expects 2015/16 U.S. wheat ending stocks to total 26.6 MMT. If realized, this would be the largest volume of ending stocks since 1987/88 according to USDA’s April World Supply and Demand Estimate update.

The large wheat stocks and their location, combined with U.S. oil prices that fell to lows not seen since the 2008 financial crisis, pressured basis (the difference between the cash prices offered at export elevators and the relevant futures price) for all U.S. wheat classes to multi-year lows.

In the April 15 USW Price Report, estimated average nearby basis for 11.5 protein HRW out of the Gulf was $29/MT, down from $44/MT on the same date in 2015 and 5 percent lower than the 5-year average. SRW estimated average nearby basis was $26/MT, 18 percent lower than the 5-year average of $33/MT. Estimated nearby basis for 14.0 protein HRS from the Pacific Northwest (PNW) was $39/MT, compared to $84/MT last year. Soft white (SW) 10.5 max protein estimated nearby basis was $44/MT, 56 percent lower year over year. The USW Price Charting Tool provides visual representation of basis and futures price movements.

While the FOB cost of U.S. wheat is lower right now due to the lower futures prices and basis, it is also cheaper to transport that wheat across the ocean. The Baltic Dry Index, a composite of the three sub-indexes — Capesize, Supramax and Panamax — that provides an assessment of the price of moving raw materials by sea, fell 51 percent in the first 9 months of the marketing year to a record low of 290. This decline was due to excess bulk capacity and the sudden decrease in demand for raw goods from China noted in the Dec. 17, 2015, issue of “Wheat Letter.”

Adding to the U.S. wheat’s price competitiveness, the U.S. dollar has depreciated 44 percent against the Australian dollar, 7 percent against the Canadian dollar and 9 percent against the Russian ruble since Jan. 1. The depreciation of the U.S. dollar against these currencies allows for more competitive U.S. wheat prices, as demonstrated by the April 10 Iraq tender where U.S. wheat was the lowest priced origin.

While it is difficult to know when or if prices have hit bottom, the current situation in the United States is certainly unusual. With the U.S. dollar weakening against key competitor currencies, notably those of Australia, Canada and Russia, it may be a good time to look at forward contracting the different segments of the supply chain.

For questions about forward contracting or any portion of the U.S. wheat marketing system, please contact your local USW representative.


2. USW Staff and Stakeholders Attend Canadian Global Crops Symposium
By Dalton Henry, USW Director of Policy

Working with partners around the world on shared missions has been a core function of USW throughout its history. That principle applies whether those partners are wheat growers, customers or even international market competitors. An example of this collaboration was on display last week in Winnipeg, Manitoba, at the third annual Canadian Global Crops symposium. USW and some of its stakeholders joined more than 250 professionals from the Canadian wheat and grain value chains at the symposium to tackle the big topics facing our industry.

The conference, appropriately themed “Innovation: Opportunity and Challenge,” focused on the application of technology in agriculture and resulting effects on the entire value chain. The broad category of advanced plant breeding techniques, including technologies such as CRISPR-cas9 and TALEN, both commonly referred to as “gene editing,” garnered particular attention. Two seed companies provided detailed explanations of these processes and their applications in breeding programs. Compared to the lengthy process of cross-breeding and its random results, advanced breeding technologies are allowing more precise improvements in plant breeding, in many cases without producing transgenic plants. Grain handling companies and government regulators also provided perspective on the new technologies, including how regulators view the processes and potential challenges that may result from uncoordinated governments’ regulations. USW supports a review process that facilitates industry discussions such as these to ensure compatibility between all governments’ efforts on these new technologies.

During the symposium, the International Grain Trade Coalition (IGTC) held strategy and general sessions. The IGTC includes non-profit trade associations, councils and corporate stakeholders interested in working to support trade in grains, oilseeds and other bulk agricultural products. The organization has multiple working groups that focus on finding solutions to trade irritants and informing discussions on global trade in grains, including expanding the use of electronic documents and harmonization of phytosanitary measures. A number of U.S. and Canadian companies and grower organizations, including USW, are active IGTC members and support its work to better facilitate trade for both our producers and customers around the world.

It is through platforms such as these that both Canadian and U.S. grower organizations are able to work together for the advancement of the entire industry and better serve the needs of the customers we share around the world.


3. Cubans and U.S. Grain Trade Officials Meet to Discuss New Opportunities
By Ben Conner, USW Deputy Director of Policy

This week, a team of Cuban agriculture and trade officials visited the United States to explore the U.S. grain production system at the invitation of the U.S. Grains Council, which asked USW to present information about U.S. wheat trade at a meeting with the officials in Washington, DC.

The Cuban team included representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of International Trade and ALIMPORT, the government agency in charge of grain imports. The group met with wheat farmers from Kansas, Texas and Maryland along with USW staff including Regional Vice President Mitch Skalicky, based in Mexico City. The discussion centered on issues that impede U.S. wheat exports to Cuba. Following meetings in Washington, DC, the Cuban team travelled to Maryland, Missouri and Louisiana to learn more about U.S. grain production, trading and processing.

This was an important opportunity ultimately because trade relationships based on mutual trust may be forged even though political barriers exist. Today, there are still requirements that Cubans must pay cash in advance of receiving U.S. agricultural exports. That requirement does not exist for any other country. In fact, these regulations make all business in the Caribbean more difficult. A baker or miller in a nearby country wanting to sell their products to Cuba pays the shipper more due to of the cost of compliance with U.S. trade laws.

Businesses exporting wheat should be able to make a judgment based on their assessment of political risk. They do it all the time. There needs to be enough trust to ensure the price risk to U.S. exporters is minimized. The arrival of Cuban grain trade officials on U.S. shores demonstrates that Cubans want to reach a position of mutual trust.

Ojalá — hopefully — this U.S. visit by Cuban agriculture and trade officials is a sign of a brighter, more trustworthy future between the people of these two countries that are so close, yet so far apart. If trade and regular interaction with farmers and agribusinesses to the north is given the opportunity to flourish, that day may come sooner

For those interested in more information on the potential of U.S. trade with Cuba, see the U.S. International Trade Commission report released Monday here.


4. Celebrating Productive Partnerships from Generation to Generation
By Steve Mercer, USW Vice President of Communications

Anniversaries serve as a pivot point for people and organizations to celebrate successes, contemplate challenges and turn toward future opportunities. This was foremost on the minds of 24 representatives of USW and five state wheat commissions who recently joined their customers at special events in Tokyo marking 60 years with a U.S. wheat promotion office in Japan and in Taipei marking 50 years with an office in Taiwan.

To celebrate these enduring partnerships, the Oregon Wheat Commission, Washington Grain Commission, Idaho Wheat Commission, Montana Wheat and Barley Committee, North Dakota Wheat Commission, Nebraska Wheat Board, Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotion Council and USW sponsored a reception in Tokyo’s Palace Hotel April 11 and dinner at Taipei’s Sherwood Hotel April 13. The U.S. delegation also met separately with government officials, flour millers and wheat food processors in both countries, as well as grain handlers in Japan and the China Grain Products Research and Development Institute (CGPRDI) in Taiwan.

In Japan, USW Chairman Brian O’Toole, a wheat farmer from Crystal, ND, joined several other members of the delegation to meet with grain procurement officials in Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF). The ministry carries out all wheat purchases, then sells the wheat to Japanese flour mills. The Japanese grain trade acts as intermediaries between MAFF and overseas sellers and OMIC, Ltd., provides testing and inspection services. O’Toole told the officials that while he was not around to witness the opening of an office by the Oregon Wheat Growers League 60 years ago, “I can honestly say that my family, and all U.S. wheat farmers, continue to benefit from that historic day.”

Mr. Akira Karasawa, Director-General, Crop Protection Bureau, at MAFF thanked the delegation for all of the professional attention and personal recognition from USW and U.S. wheat farmers to MAFF and its staff. The relationship has weathered some storms, he said, but has remained productive over the years and should remain so in the future.

Farmers represented by the Oregon Wheat Growers League and other state organizations in the PNW eventually formed Western Wheat Associates in 1959, which merged with Great Plains Wheat to become USW in 1980. Today, USW’s Tokyo office includes Country Director Wataru “Charlie” Utsunomiya and Program Assistant Sadako Ishida, who has served in her position for more than 37 years. Japan has purchased significantly more U.S. wheat than any country in the world, certainly when counting total imports over these 60 years, as well as in most individual years.

“The five states in our delegation represent farmers who grow all of the soft white and much of the hard red spring and hard red winter wheat that Japan imports,” said USW President Alan Tracy addressing members of the Flour Millers Association of Japan. “Meeting the demand for high quality wheat here in Japan gave successive generations of U.S. wheat farmers the opportunity to expand into other Asian markets. We thank you for your loyalty and pledge continued loyalty to you as suppliers.”

In turn, Mr. Masao Shimojima, President of Nitto Fuji Four Milling and Flour Millers Association Chairman, congratulated the delegation on the 60th anniversary and “the great relationship Charlie Utsunomiya, his predecessors and many others in the United States have developed with our industry.”

Some delegation members later visited Nitto Fuji and its port facilities to see workers unload U.S. HRW and “western white” wheat from a bulk vessel. Others visited the impressive Yamazaki Bakery. In separate meetings, the entire delegation met with managers from Nisshin Flour Mills, which owns Miller Milling in the United States, and Nippon Flour Mills.

Nisshin President Mr. Nobuki Kemmoku said his company depends on U.S. farmers for a safe, secure and reliable wheat supply and looks forward to continuing this “stable partnership.” Mr. Kemmoku also offered an official toast to the anniversary celebration at the reception.

After a generous greeting by Mr. Takehiro Fujiwara, who heads wheat procurement at Nippon, USW Secretary-Treasurer Mike Miller, a wheat farmer from Ritzville, WA, said there is great respect for Japan as a customer.

“Because of this partnership, as a kid on the farm I was taught that a lot of the wheat we harvested would end up on the tables of Japanese consumers,” said Miller. “Now my generation is doing everything we can to make sure our wheat keeps flowing to Japan.”

More than 250 Japanese industry guests, including several honored executives and members of Japan’s baking trade media, joined the U.S. delegation and USW colleagues at the gala reception. A highlight came when David Miller, Minister-Counselor for Agricultural Affairs from the U.S. Embassy greeted the guests and read a letter of congratulations from U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy.

“We would have no market in Japan without the contributions of our valued Japanese partners in the importing, milling, baking and food processing industries as well as the Japanese government,” said Miller. “It is because of the dedicated hard work by all of you in this room that today we have this vibrant and valuable market for American’s wheat farmers.”

Moving on to Taiwan, the cross-generational good will flowing from a 50-year relationship with flour millers, scientists and food professionals was almost immediately evident. At their first visit in Taiwan to the CGPRDI in Taipei, the U.S. delegation observed the statue of the institute’s late founder Mr. Yu-Shiu Miao. Later the same day, at the celebration dinner, his son, Matthew F.C. Miau, Chairman of Lien Hwa Industrial Corporation, remembered his father talking about how collaboration with U.S. wheat farmers helped CGPRDI grow.

CGPRDI has maintained a close working relationship with USW in developing 4,000 to 5,000 new grain food products and training about 150,000 baking and food service students. As he observed the next generation of baking students working a practical lesson at the institute, Brian O’Toole made the connection between farmers at home, USW associates past and present and their customers.

“This is it. Right here,” he said. “This is worth all the hard work on all the combines in the United States.”

Mr. Kuen-Ho Shih, CGPRDI President, thanked the delegation for their role in building a successful and trusted wheat flour milling and foods industry in Taiwan. He specifically thanked recent USW colleagues.

“For many years, USW’s Director Mr. K. H. Lu and Mr. Ron Lu have strongly supported our work and we appreciate that very much,” said Mr. Shih.

Ron Lu joined USW more than 33 years ago and has served as USW Country Director since 2008. His Taipei colleagues include Ms. Shu-ying “Sophia” Yang, Asian Products and Nutrition Technologist and Ms. Serena C. Wu, who has served as Office Manager for more than 38 years and plans to retire later in 2016. In addition, Ms. Fiona Lee, who joined the staff as Executive Secretary/Accountant on April 1, assisted the team and delegation.

“Perhaps the ultimate measure of our work with U.S. Wheat Associates has been our mutual support of the Taiwan Baking Contest Committee,” said Mr. Charles H.S. Ching, CGPRDI Chairman. The committee, including USW and CGPRDI, helped train and send a Taiwanese team for the first time to the prestigious World Bakery Cup in 2008 that earned a bronze medal. Another bronze followed in 2012, and this year Taiwan’s baking team won a silver medal.

Taiwan’s flour milling companies, today represented by the Taiwan Flour Mills Association (TFMA), established CGPRDI with an aim to promote wheat products. When the delegation met with TFMA, its Chairman Mr. Tony I. T. Chen assured the partnership between TFMA, the Taiwan Bakery Association and CGPRDI with U.S. wheat farmers would continue for many years.

“Our millers and consumers prefer products made with flour from U.S. wheat,” he said. “Even this year, with plenty of wheat stocks and a strong U.S. dollar, your share of our market remains strong.”

Reflecting the power of cooperation, he continued, is the fact that consumption of wheat foods in Taiwan has now surpassed that of rice, despite the fact that Taiwan produces no milling wheat.

“I am struck by the strong connections in this industry and its tremendous commitment to quality,” answered Alan Tracy. “Over the past 50 years, Taiwan’s wheat flour and food industry has come farther than any other country in building demand for a diverse range of high quality wheat foods and we thank you for your efforts.”

Among the guests at the 50th anniversary celebration dinner on April 13 was Mr. Kin Moy, Director of the American Institute in Taiwan. Mr. Moy noted that the anniversary coincides with the year of the horse, a fitting metaphor for the commemoration.

“The horse represents strength and endurance, much like the wheat trade between the United States and Taiwan,” he said. “I want to thank all of the people here today and from the past for their partnership and success.”

The connections to the past came alive later, following a delightful ceremony and dinner, when Mr. Chi-kuan Chung, General Manager of the Hsia Fha flour mill was looking at the program booklet. He stopped, looked up and said to the people at his table that there, in a photograph representing the technical training provided by USW, was his late father.

USW Vice President of Operations Vince Peterson had the honor to close the celebration events in Japan and Taiwan. Thanking the customers and the international grain trade for its critical role, Peterson pivoted to the future in his concluding remarks.

“We realize that our wheat farmers can only be successful if our customers are equally successful.” He said. “So tonight, we invite you to join us on the next portion of this journey together. We have had decades of proven work together that makes us, collectively, a unique force in our ability to address and surmount any change or challenge that might come before us. Thank you for joining us to commemorate the past and to re-dedicate our efforts to make the future even brighter and more successful for you and for U.S. wheat farmers.”

A list of the people and organizations in the U.S. delegation is included in the online edition of “Wheat Letter.”

Oregon Wheat Commission
Dale Case, Commissioner
Walter Powell, Commissioner
Blake Rowe, CEO

Washington Grain Commission
Mike Miller, Chairman (USW Secretary-Treasurer)
Damon Filan, Commissioner
Patrick Capper, Special Assistant to the Director, Washington State Department of Agriculture
Glen Squires, CEO

Idaho Wheat Commission
Jerry Brown, Commissioner
Blaine Jacobson, Executive Director

Montana Wheat and Barley Committee
Leonard Schock, Commissioner (USW Past Chairman)
Ron de Yong, Director, Montana Department of Agriculture
Collin Watters, Executive Vice President

North Dakota Wheat Commission
Brian O’Toole, Commissioner (USW Chairman)
Greg Svenningsen, Commissioner
Neal Fisher, Administrator

U.S. Wheat Associates
Alan Tracy, President
Vince Peterson, Vice President of Overseas Operations
Steve Wirsching, Vice President, West Coast Office Director
Matt Weimar, Regional Vice President, South Asia
Steve Mercer, Vice President of Communications
Erica Oakley, Programs Manager

Commercial
Augusto Bassanini, President and CEO, United Grain
Sebastian Degens, Director of Marine Business Development, Port of Portland
Mike Spier, Southeast Asia Representative, Columbia Grain


5. Japanese Executive Millers Return for Annual U.S. Wheat Tour

On the heels of a momentous event celebrating 60 years with a USW office in Japan, a team of four senior executives from Japan’s leading milling companies will travel to the United States to continue building upon that legacy. As a part of USW’s market development activities, the trip includes stops in Oregon and Washington, DC from April 28 to May 4, 2016.

“Japan is a loyal U.S. wheat customer because our relationship is built on mutual trust and our commitment to the best interests of our end-use customers,” said USW Vice President and West Coast Office Director Steve Wirsching. “But as with every relationship, it is important to keep the lines of communications open and to demonstrate full transparency in our practices. This trade team visit is essential to that mission.”

USW collaborated with the Oregon Wheat Commission to organize and host this trade team.

The Oregon Wheat Growers League (OWGL) established the first overseas U.S. wheat export office in Tokyo in 1956 and in that same year, the first team of Japanese millers visited the United States to learn observe U.S. wheat production, quality and marketing. Over the years, bringing trade teams to the United States has become a tradition and for well over a decade, this particular activity has become an annual trip for Japanese executive millers. Often the team extends its traditional trip to the PNW to include a visit to Washington, DC.

During its visit to Oregon, the team will follow the wheat through the supply chain from farm to shipment, demonstrating at the each step the U.S. wheat industry’s commitment to quality and efficiency. Their time will include meetings and tours with the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) and Louis Dreyfus export terminal. Once in Washington, DC, the team will shift its focus to trade policy and get an overview of the U.S. and global wheat market situation. They will also discuss modern farm management systems, dietary trends and views on competitive markets.

“Japan is an essential market for U.S. producers, purchasing 3.2 MMT of wheat annually, making it the single largest buyer of U.S. wheat in the world. Japanese consumers demand high quality and expect a consistent and reliable supply of wheat food products,” said Wirsching. “At the 60 year anniversary event, the head of the Japanese Millers Association explained that U.S. wheat accounts for six percent of the daily caloric intake of the average Japanese consumer. That is a vivid illustration of the success of this partnership and how much is required from our farmers and wheat supply system.”


6. Wheat Industry News
  • New Wheat Line Eliminates Discoloring in Foods. Minimizing gray discoloring in foods such as fresh noodles, breads and refrigerated biscuits may soon be possible thanks to a new white hard wheat breeding line developed by USDA scientists. Plant geneticist Bob Graybosch, at the Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) Grain, Forage, and Bioenergy Research Unit in Lincoln, NE, developed a wheat that has no polyphenol oxidase — an enzyme present in all plants that causes discoloring. Read the full article here.
  • Join the Wheat Food Council’s “On the Road” Virtual Bus Tour of America. Since wheat foods are the delicious vehicle for countless foods, site visitors can “hop on the wheat bus” and take a virtual culinary tour of America, exploring regional, iconic, unusual, traditional and delicious wheat-based foods. Individuals and organizations may submit additional content. Join the tour and learn more at www.ontheroadwithwheatfoods.com.

  • Nominations Open for the World Food Prize. Known as the “Nobel Prize for Food and Agriculture,” the World Food Prize is a $250,000 award created by the late Dr. Norman Borlaug. This international honor recognizes the accomplishments of individuals who have advanced human development by increasing the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. The nomination procedure, due on May 1, is now available in six languages. For more information, visit www.worldfoodprize.org/nominate.
  • North Dakota State University Selects New Spring Wheat Breeder. NDSU recently selected Andrew Green, a Ph.D. candidate in agronomy (planting breeding) at Kansas State University, as its next spring wheat breeder. Green will graduate in May and start his new position in July. In addition to his forthcoming Ph.D. degree, he also holds a master’s from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in plant breeding and a bachelor’s from Truman State University in agricultural science. Green has extensive experience working in the wheat breeding world, having worked for three wheat breeding programs during his time as a student. Read the full announcement here.
  • New AIB International Chairman. John Riesch, President & CEO, Lesaffre Yeast Corporation and Red Star Yeast Company was elected Chairman of AIB’s Board of Trustees April 15. As Chairman, he will provide leadership for the board and guidance for the direction of AIB International as a whole. Riesch has 30 over years of experience in the food and baking industry and has served on the AIB International Board of Directors and Executive Committee for the past seven years. He previously held executive positions at Minn-Dakota Yeast Company, Anheuser Busch’s Industrial Products Division, and Edwards Baking Company. Read more information here.
  • Wheat Marketing Center Advanced Asian Technology Course. This hands-on course is scheduled for June 6 to 10, 2016. For more information, please visit http://wmcinc.org.
  • IGP Institute to Host Short Course on Managing Mill Balance and Control. This course, scheduled for June 7 to 10, 2016, at the IGP Institute Conference Center in Manhattan, KS, will focus on specific aspects of the milling process. Topics will include measuring break extraction, optimizing break release and product distribution for different classes of wheat and the impact of wheat quality on extraction. Milling engineers, operation managers, production managers and shift managers will benefit most from the course. Practical work experience in a flour mill is required to take the course. For more information and to register, visit www.igpevents.grains.ksu.edu.
  • Register Now for the Buhler-KSU Executive Milling Course. Kansas State University's IGP Institute, in conjunction with Buhler, Inc. will host its Buhler-KSU Executive Milling course June 13 to 17, 2016 at the IGP Institute Conference Center in Manhattan, KS. Course topics include raw materials, cleaning systems, milling systems, finished product handling and storage, performance evaluation in a flour mill and factors that influence an investment decision and basics in aspiration. Also included will be hands-on exercises demonstrating the influences of wheat characteristics on yield and mill performance, special systems for mycotoxin reduction and top quality flour production, machine and flow sheet technology, system design and various tempering philosophies. For more information and to register, visit www.iaom.info.
  • Subscribe to USW Reports. USW has added a “Subscribe” menu at www.uswheat.org where visitors may subscribe to this newsletter, the weekly Price Report and the weekly Harvest Report (available May to October.) Click here to subscribe.
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