The 10-year anniversary of the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center (KWIC) was not celebrated as a typical milestone event. Farmers and partners who’ve invested time, effort and dollars into the research facility described the occasion more as a “using one eye to look back.”

While keeping the other eye firmly on the future.

Kansas wheat farmer Ron Suppes, a Past Chair of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and current Chairman of the Kansas Wheat Commission Research Foundation, addresses those gathered to celenrate the 10th anniversary of the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center

Kansas wheat farmer Ron Suppes, a Past Chair of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and current Chairman of the Kansas Wheat Commission Research Foundation, addresses those gathered to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center.

“This place is here because a lot of people believed in supporting and growing the wheat industry, and they believed in the future of what we do,” Kansas wheat farmer Ron Suppes, a Past Chair of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and current Chairman of the Kansas Wheat Commission Research Foundation, said during a Dec. 15 gathering to mark the anniversary.

“Some of those who had this vision are no longer with us, but they were among those who looked forward to developing new wheat varieties for farmers. As for the farmers, we have been willing to invest in sustainable and regenerative practices because we recognize the value of wheat research. Our customers rely on us to produce the best quality wheat in the world, and the work being done here has and will help us to do that.”

Suppes, one of several speakers who addressed the successes and ongoing work at the KWIC, also acknowledged that Fields Forward, a project of the Kansas Wheat Commission Research Foundation, reached its $4 million campaign goal to research sustainability in the U.S. wheat industry.

The KWIC was built by the Kansas Wheat Commission on land owned by Kansas State University, which granted the Commission a 50-year lease on the property. Construction began in October 2011 and the facility was completed in November 2012. Along with being home of the world-renowned Wheat Genetics Resource Center (WGRC), the 48,000 square foot KWIC facility includes research laboratories, greenhouses and office space that houses the Kansas Wheat Commission, the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, the Kansas Wheat Alliance and a host of research and partner organizations.

Gary Millershaski, a member of the USW Board of Directors and Chairman of the Kansas Wheat Commission, said wheat farmers appreciate the partners that led to creation of the KWIC.

“This facility was built by farmers through the wheat checkoff,” Millershaski said. “But there are a lot of groups, such as the International Grains Program, that play a very important part in what we do and what is done on the research front.”

Kansas Wheat CEO Justin Gilpin, far left, leads a tour of the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center.

Kansas Wheat CEO Justin Gilpin, far left, leads a tour of the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center.


Bill Flory compared it to sliding his feet into someone else’s shoes. It’s a well-worn analogy but one that perfectly describes his experience during the recent flour milling course presented by the International Grains Program (IGP) Institute and Kansas State University (KSU).

“Getting a first-hand look at how wheat from my farm is milled to meet the needs and demands of customers is incredibly valuable,” Flory, a wheat farmer from Winchester, Idaho, and member of the U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Board of Directors, said. “You analyze things from our customers’ points of view. The technical aspect of milling is something we as farmers — even those of us active with our state associations – rarely get to see. The knowledge we gained in the course can be shared with other farmers. And the things we learned will come in handy when we host trade teams from other countries or when we visit international markets to meet our customers.”

The IGP-KSU course conducted on the KSU campus in mid-December was considered a “deep dive” into flour milling. It was constructed specifically for producers who sit on the boards of state wheat organizations, as well as people who work for those organizations. Representatives from Idaho, Kansas, Oklahoma and Oregon engaged in the course led by Shawn Thiele, IGP Institute associate director and flour milling and grain processing curriculum manager.

Here is a short video featuring Flory’s take-aways from the three-day course:




Building upon its long relationship with Brazilian flour millers while also learning about current market conditions across South America, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) recently took part in the Abitrigo Congress in Foz de Iguazu, Brazil.

During this year's Abitrigo Congress, USW presented a course completion certificate for its Online Baking Certification program to the owner one of Brazil’s largest milling companies

During this year’s Abitrigo Congress, USW presented a course completion certificate for its Online Baking Certification program to the owner one of Brazil’s largest milling companies.

Abitrigo, the association representing the Brazilian wheat milling industry, had not held an in-person annual meeting since 2019. USW President Vince Peterson said attendees from all industry sectors were thrilled to finally be able to engage in business face-to-face.

“Everyone we spoke with noted how nice it was to be back together,” said Peterson, who was joined by USW Vice Chairman Michael Peters and staff members from the USW Santiago Office. “Our presence is a way to show how important Brazilian millers and buyers are to U.S. wheat producers and the entire U.S. wheat industry. It gives us an opportunity to interact with key wheat buyers and have discussions with both new and long-time representatives of the mills.”

Peters, who was attending his first Abitrigo meeting, was impressed with the work of the USW Santiago office, which was represented by Regional Director Miguel Galdos, Assistant Regional Director Osvaldo Seco, Technical Specialist Andres Saturno and Senior Marketing Specialist Claudia Gomez.

“It was very clear that our staff has tremendous relationships with millers in that part of the world and have earned the respect of the industry,” said Peters, a wheat producer and cattle rancher from Okarche, Oklahoma. “It is a tough and competitive market for U.S. wheat, but we’ve remained connected and have done a great job of maintaining U.S. wheat’s reputation for providing a high-quality product.”

USW took center stage during one segment of this year’s meeting when it presented a course completion certificate for its Online Baking Certification program, a new USW technical project that promotes baking methods using all six U.S. wheat classes. The recipient owns one of Brazil’s largest milling companies.

“Having a significant business owner take her personal time to take the USW baking course is quite a compliment,” Peterson noted.

Abitrigo provides more information about its endorsement of the USW Online Baking Certification program on its website.

While Brazil has been importing U.S. wheat for more than 40 years, it still is an extremely competitive market due to Brazil’s domestic production and advantages enjoyed by some U.S. competitors, including Argentina and other countries that have mostly duty-free access under the Mercosur Agreement. In 2019, Brazil agreed to implement an annual duty-free tariff rate quota (TRQ) of 750,000 metric tons of wheat imports from countries not part of the Mercosur Agreement.

Peterson pointed out that the quality of U.S. wheat remains desirable to many Brazilian buyers.

“The core of the Brazilian milling industry recognizes that U.S. hard red winter (HRW) and soft red winter (SRW) wheat – and even hard red spring (HRS) wheat, which has been purchased by Brazilian customers this year – are the most applicable wheat sources to produce the best quality Brazilian wheat food products. Because of this, the market continues to be a long-term priority. And we will continue providing the best service and support we can to Brazilian millers and bakers.”

USW Vice Chair Michael Peter( left) with Sen. Frank Lucas, R-Oklahoman (center) and Yi-Cheun "Tony" Shu, chair of the TFMA, after the Letter of Intent signing at the U.S. Capitol.

USW Vice Chair Michael Peters ( left) with Sen. Frank Lucas, R-Oklahoma (center) and Yi-Cheun “Tony” Shu, chair of the TFMA, after the Letter of Intent signing at the U.S. Capitol.

Representatives from the Taiwan Flour Millers Association (TFMA) signed a Letter of Intent September 14, 2022,  with U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) to purchase 1.9 million metric tons – about 69.8 million bushels – of wheat from the U.S. over the next two years, a commitment with an estimated value of $576 million.

The signing, held at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., was a much-anticipated stop for the 2022 Taiwan Agricultural Trade Goodwill Mission, a team made up of Taiwanese government officials and representatives of some of the largest importers of U.S. grains. The group is led by Yi-Cheun “Tony” Shu, chair of the TFMA and of Formosa Oilseed Processing Co. Also participating is Dr. Ching-Cheng Huang, deputy minister of Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture.

Taiwan is the 6th largest U.S. wheat export market and the 7th largest overseas market for U.S. agricultural products. Along with its intent to purchase U.S. wheat in 2023 and 2024, the team also signed Letters of Intent with the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) and the U.S. Grains Council (USG) to purchase soybeans and corn. The total estimated commitment in the three letters total $3.2 billion.

Michael Peters, USW Vice Chairman, signed the TFMA Letter of Intent on behalf of the U.S. wheat industry.

“American farmers place great value on the relationship between U.S. agriculture and Taiwan,” Peters, a wheat producer and cattle rancher from Okarche, Oklahoma, said during the signing ceremony. “We pride ourselves as being dependable partners who grow the highest quality agriculture products in the world. The TFMA and its members have been great trading partners who fully recognize the value of purchasing U.S. wheat.”

Among U.S. officials on hand were Senators Kevin Cramer, R-North Dakota, John Hoeven, R-North Dakota, Frank Lucas, R-Oklahoma, Jim Risch, R-Idaho, and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. Representative Steven Chabot, R-Ohio, co-chair of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, was also present to witness the signing.

Following the visit to Washington, D.C., flour millers on the Mission headed west to get a first-hand look at U.S. wheat production and meet the people responsible for supplying high-quality wheat to Taiwan. The team is scheduled to visit wheat farmers in Kansas, Idaho and Oregon. Other scheduled stops also include the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center and the Port of Portland in Oregon.

USW also joined USSEC, USGC, the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and the North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA) in hosting a reception for the Mission team on September 13. The event provided leaders of the U.S. wheat and grain industry an opportunity to catch up with members of the Taiwan Goodwill Mission, which last visited the United States in 2019.

USW President Vince Peterson addresses those gathered for a reception welcoming the 2022 Taiwan Agricultural Trade Goodwill Mission

USW President Vince Peterson addresses those gathered for a reception welcoming the 2022 Taiwan Agricultural Trade Goodwill Mission

USW President Vince Peterson addressed the gathering by pointing out the long and beneficial history of cooperation between Taiwan’s flour milling industry and the U.S. wheat industry that first opened a promotional office in Taipei 56 years ago.

“Our legacy organization Western Wheat Associates established a presence in Taiwan in 1966, so we are going on six decades of working with the country’s flour millers and food industry,” Peterson said. “In that time, Taiwan has purchased more than 45 million metric tons of U.S. wheat. This partnership between TFMA, U.S. Wheat Associates and U.S. wheat producers has been on a great path, and we plan to continue on that path in the future. We truly thank the Taiwan Goodwill Mission for coming to the United States and for its ongoing preference for U.S. wheat and other agricultural products.”


In 2021, the U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) team in Beijing asked then-Chairman and Oregon wheat farmer Darren Padget to record a video message to Chinese milling and trading managers participating in a USW-sponsored “Contracting for Wheat Value” seminar.

The USW team wanted to show customers the important things U.S. farmers do every day to produce more and better wheat with less impact on the environment. Chairman Padget took the challenge to heart and spent an entire spring day walking the Chinese team through his operation to tell his farm’s sustainability story.

USW is sharing that story here with a wider audience that is increasing interested in learning more about sustainable food production.

Better Soil 

Joined by his son Logan and his father Dale — partners in Padget Ranches — Darren talked in his video presentation about the effort to improve the soil in which they grow high quality soft white wheat.

“From when my father came to farm … things have changed quite drastically,” Darren said. “Taking care of the land and making sure it is sustainable is very important  to us as we move forward. We used to till the soil heavily with a moldboard plow … it took a lot of time, a lot of fuel, and a lot of resources. Now, we do ‘direct seeding,’ which means the stubble in the field stays intact, which builds our soil organic matter and is less susceptible to erosion. It has been a big change. We have adopted the technology, and it seems to be the best answer to make sure this farm is here for many generations to come.”

Image shows Darren Padget bending down to drink from a garden hose on his farm

Clean Drinking Water. In the “A Visit to Padget Ranches in Oregon” Darren Padget said his family’s drinking water comes from a well on the farm, a personal reason why they are very cautious about crop protection applications.

Logan Padget is the fifth generation of his family to farm in this dry north-central Oregon region just south of the Columbia River. He has embraced precision agricultural technology. In the video, he talks about the efficiency of the farm’s crop protection product application equipment.

Precision Applications

“This machine is almost as late and great as you can get on technology,” Logan said. “It is GPS-controlled. Once I make the first pass on a field, the GPS can perfectly mimic that line across the field with just one-third of a meter of overlap. That is better than anybody could drive by hand. There’s also section control through the GPS, so if you’re coming across at an angle, each section will shut off to avoid double spraying, which saves us money. It also means fewer chemicals applied to the crop. It’s just a win-win all the way around.”

Better Quality Wheat

Darren also described how farmers are reaching beyond their own fields to help improve the functional quality of the milling wheat they grow for overseas and domestic consumption. He showed a “Preferred Variety List” that ranks public and commercial wheat varieties by desirability of quality characteristics based on three years of data. The list is developed by the state wheat commissions in Oregon, Washington and Idaho, which are directed by farmers who fund commission activities (including membership in USW).

Image shows the front and back of the 2021 Preferred Variety List for PNW wheat

Ranked by Quality. The Pacific Northwest Preferred Variety List encourages functional quality improvement for overseas and domestic millers and food processors. The description of the list states: “When making a decision between varieties with similar agronomic characteristics and grain yield potential, choose the variety with the higher quality ranking. This will help to increase the overall quality and desirability of Pacific Northwest (PNW) wheat.”

We invite you to view the entire video below.

Image shows the opening scene from a video featuring Darren Padget



The boards of directors of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) met jointly November 8 to 10, 2021 in Kansas City, Mo. Each organizations’ board includes wheat growers assigned to represent state wheat organizations. These U.S. wheat industry leaders meet together two times each year.

The work at a joint board meeting includes committee meetings specific to USW and NAWG as well as Joint International Trade and Wheat Breeding Innovation Committee meetings. There is a combined board meeting as well as individual board meetings.

At their joint session Nov. 10, U.S. wheat industry leaders heard a very interesting speech from Ms. Esther L. George, President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, which is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks that, along with the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in Washington, D.C., make up the nation’s central bank. The “Fed” as it is known works “in the public’s interest by supporting economic and financial stability.” Pres. George outlined several factors that are contributing to rising inflation in the United States specifically but also affecting the global economy. One of those factors is the dramatic disruption in global supply chains that have pushed up shipping costs and interrupted normal production and distribution of goods.

“Supplier delivery times have slowed dramatically, not only for manufacturers but also for service providers,” President George said, “in part as shipping times from Asia to the West Coast have doubled, and transit costs have skyrocketed.” While a text of Pres. George’s speech is not available, her recent speech at an energy conference includes many of the key points from her presentation to U.S. wheat leaders.

Other Interesting Speakers

On Nov. 10, Mr. Daniel Whitley, Administrator of USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), spoke to the USW board of directors about the long and successful public-private partnership between “cooperator” organizations like USW and FAS. He also noted the significant expected increase in U.S. agricultural exports for 2021/22 to more than $175 billion in value, which includes an estimated $7 billion in U.S. wheat exports.

USW Chair and President with Daniel Whitley

FAS Administrator Daniel Whitley (center) with USW Chairman Darren Padget (left) and USW President Vince Peterson (right) at the 2021 Fall USW Board of Directors meeting Nov. 10 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Joining the USW directors virtually, Greg Borossay, head of Maritime Business Development at the Port of San Diego, Cal., previewed expansion plans that will introduce bulk freight loading capacity, including for grains. In addition, he described progress on a U.S. Pacific Coast Marine Highway project to create barge service between San Diego and marine ports in central and northern California, Oregon and Washington state.

Global Wheat Supply and Demand Focus

Even more specific to U.S. wheat exports, USW Vice President of Overseas Operations Mike Spier provided a very thorough review of the supply and demand factors affecting global wheat trade. Focusing on the run-up in wheat prices, Spier noted that U.S. wheat ending stocks declined by 50% in just five years. He also noted that the ratio of wheat ending stocks to “disappearance” (domestic consumption plus exports) among global wheat exporting countries is now at 13%, a level not seen since the global wheat supply shock of 2007/08.

USW Vice President of Overseas Operations Mike Spier

USW Vice President of Overseas Operations Mike Spier provided an overview of global and U.S. wheat supply and demand factors at the USW Board of Directors meeting Nov. 10.

USW and NAWG directors will meet jointly again in January 2022 in Washington, D.C.




Behind the world’s most reliable supply of wheat are the world’s most dependable people. Those people, from U.S. Wheat Associates staff to the state wheat commissions and U.S. wheat farm families to the many hands along the U.S. supply chain, and finally our overseas customers – are all a part of our story. Despite the different roles or distances between us, all of the people in our story share an unspoken connection, not only through U.S. wheat but through our shared values of growth, hard work and family. We appreciate the many congratulatory messages and well wishes from our friends and customers from all over the world.

A letter from Randy Suess, retired Washington wheat farmer, 2011/12 USW Chairman:

“I had the opportunity of a lifetime traveling with U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) to many countries and visiting with U.S. wheat buyers, millers and bakers. My thanks go out to those people who made us feel so welcome in their countries.

Traveling to Yemen with Dick Prior1 was quite an eye-opener. Our customers were so delighted to have a farmer there who grew the wheat they milled. I received several invitations to come back and stay with their families. In Salif, I received a stainless steel can filled with honey as a gift. Since it had an open lid, I was not going to be able to take it on the plane with me, so we gave it to our taxi driver. He was overwhelmed to receive it, as honey is extremely rare and valuable in Yemen.

In Yemen, people buy sacks of wheat at the store, and take them to the local corner mill to be ground into flour. 

I always enjoyed visiting cookie factories in Guatemala. They always sent us out the door with grocery bags full of the products they made. I brought these products home with me and shared with other U.S. wheat farmers at meetings. They looked identical to products in the United States but tasted different. Many thanks to those bakers, who were so proud of their products made from U.S. wheat grown in the Pacific Northwest.

Tom Mick2 and I traveled with Mark Samson3 to Bangladesh, which was the second largest food aid recipient in the world. Traffic was a nightmare with thousands of bicycle rickshaws mixed in with a lot of buses and a few cars, so our appointment with 15 flour millers was delayed by over three hours. We did not expect the millers to be still be waiting, but they were. We thanked them for their patience and were surprised at their interest in learning more about the U.S. wheat industry, and how to contract for wheat based on specifications.

The Bangladesh shot is of pastries made within their country, mainly using wheat obtained through food aid.

The Philippine flour millers are the most gracious and accommodating hosts. I was fortunate enough to be there for the 50th anniversary of having an office for U.S. wheat export market development (first as Western Wheat Associates, followed by USW) in their country. They always showed up in large numbers to attend our presentations on supply and demand, and crop quality.

It was an honor to be invited to dinner with Philippine flour miller Norman Uy and his family after one of our presentations. His son Stevie is taking over the mill and was in a group that visited my farm the following year.

(L) Stevie Uy visits Randy’s farm in Eastern Washington with a trade delegation from the Philippines; (R) Norman Uy accepts a framed photo from Randy at the 2012 anniversary event in the Philippines.

While my thanks go out to the buyers, millers and bakers of our wheat around the world, none of it would be possible without the work of our dedicated overseas staff. People like Takeo Suzuki4, who was in the Tokyo office. Takeo was a tireless worker on our behalf, who had many contacts in the industry. If you ever had the chance to travel with him, you had to almost run to keep up with him. I will be forever grateful for his service to our industry. I had the distinct honor of traveling with so many during my eleven-year tenure on the USW board. I started writing down all their names but decided to just thank them as a group for their dedication. While faces have changed over the years, I still see their commitment to providing the world’s most reliable choice of wheat.”

1Dick Prior, retired in 2012 as USW Regional Vice President, Middle East, East and North Africa, in Cairo, Egypt, after serving 22 years managing wheat export market development in the region.

2Tom Mick served eight years as USW Regional Vice President, South Asia, in Singapore, and two years as USW Director of Overseas Operations in Washington, D.C. He retired as CEO of the Washington Grain Commission in 2012.

3Mark Samson served as assistant director of Western Wheat Associates (now U.S. Wheat Associates) in Washington, D.C., as administrator of the Idaho Wheat Commission and USW regional vice president for South Asia in Singapore and regional vice president for Europe, the Middle East, East and North Africa in Cairo,Egypt, and Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

4Takeo Suzuki served as USW Country Director, Tokyo, until his death in 2007.

Randy Suess on his farm in Washington.

The bread delivery in Eritrea has Dick Prior taking a look at the small loaves of bread made from soft white wheat, as it is being delivered on bicycles.

The Malaysia bread town was a factory selling breads and all kinds of sweets, that was set up for tours. Over 30,000 kids were bused in each year to go through their tour.

USW 2011/12 Officers (L to R): Randy Suess (WA), Chairman; Dan Hughes (NE), Secretary-Treasurer; Darrell Davis (SD), Vice Chair; Don Schieber (OK), Past Chairman.




By Elizabeth Westendorf, USW Assistant Director of Policy

Every year, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) invites farmers (selected by state wheat commissions) to visit U.S. wheat customers overseas to learn more about international markets, customer needs, and the role of U.S. wheat in their businesses. This year, USW Assistant Director of Policy Elizabeth Westendorf led a team of three farmers to Spain, Portugal, and Morocco. The team included: Al Klempel, a hard red spring (HRS) and hard red winter (HRW) wheat farmer from Bloomfield, Mont. representing the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee; Kent Lorens, a HRW and hard white (HW) wheat farmer from Stratton, Neb., representing the Nebraska Wheat Board; and Casey Madsen, a HRW and HW wheat farmer from Pine Bluffs, Wyo., representing the Wyoming Wheat Marketing Commission.

They were accompanied by Ian Flagg, USW Regional Vice President for European, Middle Eastern and North African Regions and Rutger Koekoek, USW Regional Marketing Director, from the USW Rotterdam Office, as well as Mina El Hachimi, USW Director of Finance and Administration; Peter Lloyd, USW Regional Technical Director; and Tarik Gahi, USW Milling and Baking Technologist, from the USW Casablanca Office.

The 2019 USW EU-MEENA Board Team and USW staff in Spain during a visit with leadership from Harinas Polo and staff from the U.S. Embassy in front of the Harinas Polo mill.

In Spain, the team visited a pasta factory and several flour mills. They learned the importance of Spain’s growing pasta industry and visited a company capitalizing on health foods trends with innovative seeds and grains blends. The largest pasta producing company in Spain, Grupo Gallo, was the first to introduce semolina-based pasta to Spain in the 1960s when they brought durum wheat into the country. Prior to that, Spain only consumed pasta from common wheat. Today, Spanish millers value stability and consistency in the U.S. wheat they buy, and these qualities become even more important as companies continue to expand into convenience products. In Portugal, this theme of appreciating quality continued, with companies constantly seeking new ways to innovate in the market and distinguish their products from competitors.

After Portugal, the team left the EU to visit USW’s office and customers in Morocco. They met with Moroccan Office of Cereals (ONICL) and spoke about continued progress in implementation of the U.S.-Moroccan Free Trade Agreement, which includes a wheat tariff-rate quota. As in Spain and Portugal, Moroccan mills appreciate U.S. wheat quality, and companies targeting the high-quality niche market know they are well-served with U.S. wheat.

Visiting Kenz Maroc in Morocco. (L to R) Ian Flagg, USW Regional Vice President for European, Middle Eastern and North African Regions; Al Klempel, Montana; Casey Madsen, Wyoming; Kenz Maroc leadership; Kent Lorens, Nebraska; Mina El Hachimi, USW Director of Finance and Administration; Peter Lloyd, Regional Technical Director.

“The Moroccan market is very different from that of Spain or Portugal,” says Westendorf. “But the demand for high-quality wheat is still very evident and will continue to grow. We need to make sure that U.S. wheat maintains its reputation as the world’s most reliable choice by continuing to support our customers through trade and technical service, as well as varietal improvement programs.”

Al Klempel (Montana) and Casey Madsen (Wyoming) speak with Kenz Maroc leadership during a mill tour in Morocco.

In Morocco, the team also visited the Institut de Formation de l’Indstrie Meunière (IFIM), a milling school in Casablanca that USW started in partnership with the Moroccan Millers Federation in 1994. This school trains millers that work all over Africa and the Middle East, and the school is proud to continue partnering with USW to introduce students to the value of high-quality wheat in milling.

Visiting IFIM and touring the training mill, where the team saw equipment sponsored by U.S. Wheat Associates. (L to R): Al Klempel (Montana), Kent Lorens (Nebraska) and Casey Madsen (Wyoming).

USW board teams provide a valuable experience for U.S. wheat farmers to see the hard work of our foreign offices and the results that work produces. It also allows U.S. wheat customers to meet with the farmers producing their wheat, and to better understand the strong value that farmers place on producing an excellent crop.

The team will report to the USW board of directors later this year. To see pictures from this and other Board Team trips, please visit the USW Facebook Page at

*Header Photo Caption: The 2019 USW EU-MEENA Board Team with USW and U.S. Embassy staff during a visit with the technical director of Grupo Gallo at its mill and pasta factory in Spain.

Customer service is defined as the process of ensuring customer satisfaction with a product or service. When it comes to international trade relationships, customer service is expanded to include managing relationships and being able to ensure a reliable, quality supply.

Twice every year, U.S. Associates (USW) sends U.S. wheat farmer leaders overseas to help cultivate relationships with the people who import, mill and use the wheat they grow. USW refers to these delegations as “Board Teams” because they typically include members of USW’s board of directors who are selected by state wheat commission members. These missions help strengthen customer relationships but also give the participants the chance to see how the organization and local USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) staff work together to represent U.S. farmers.

Bound this month for Spain, Portugal and Morocco, the next Board Team includes: Alan Klempel of Bloomfield, Mont., representing the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee; Kent Lorens of Stratton, Neb., representing the Nebraska Wheat Board; Casey Madsen of Pine Bluffs, Wyo., representing the Wyoming Wheat Marketing Commission; and team leader Elizabeth Westendorf, USW Assistant Director of Policy.

The team will also be joined by Ian Flagg, USW Regional Vice President for the European, Middle Eastern and North African Regions, as well as Rutger Koekoek, USW Regional Marketing Director. The visits to Spain and Portugal, which are part of the European Union, will provide an introduction to two sophisticated markets, where the United States is seeing increased competition from nearby exporting countries. In Morocco, where wheat imports are subject to tariff rate quotas (TRQs) under two separate trade agreements with the EU and the United States, the team will see how a government buying system works. Throughout the trip the team will have the opportunity to meet with several customers and government officials and tour many facilities.

The team members will report back to USW directors later this year and, as regional leaders, to their wheat farmer neighbors.

Photos and comments from the team’s activities will be posted on USW’s Facebook page at www.facebook/uswheat.

Al Klempel.










Kent Lorens.








Casey Madsen.










Elizabeth Westendorf.


By Catherine Miller, USW Programs and Planning Coordinator

Every year, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) invites farmers (selected by state wheat commissions) to participate in a “Board Team” trip overseas to follow their wheat and learn from customers about the quality characteristics needed in those markets. In February the first USW Board Team of 2019 traveled to Southeast Asia—one of the largest and fastest growing wheat import regions. Stops in the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia gave the team the opportunity to visit important markets and learn more about how wheat-based products are re-shaping consumer demand.

The 2019 USW Southeast Asia Board Team included Joe Anderson of Lewiston, Idaho, representing the Idaho Wheat Commission; Wally Powell of Condon, Ore., representing the Oregon Wheat Commission; Philip Volk, of York, N.D., representing the North Dakota Wheat Commission; and team leader Catherine Miller, USW Program and Planning Coordinator.

In the Philippines, the team enjoyed a meeting and tour with Wellington Flour Mills. They were joined by company President Ty Weevens (center, front row), whose grandparents originally start the family-owned mill, along with a few cousins who are also apart of the mill’s operations.

In Manila, Republic of the Philippines, the team met with traders, millers and bakers. Each meeting focused on the importance of high-quality wheat to create high quality end-products. The team visited a flour mill, as well as an industrial cracker facility. The team found a common theme that consumers here are looking for more convenience and shifting from traditionally rice-based staple foods to more wheat and grain-based meals. This is a huge market driver for a variety of cookies, crackers and bread products.

“One of our lunches with USW staff and four different mills was one of the highlights,” said Powell. “It was so beneficial to spend that time with them and share a meal.”

Lunch with grain traders in the Philippines.

One of the highlights in Manila was attending the 10th International Exhibition on Bakery, Confectionery and Foodservice Equipment and Supplies, known as “Bakery Fair 2019,” hosted by the Filipino-Chinese Bakery Association Inc. While visiting different exhibits, labeling on some of the flour bags stood out to Anderson: “They said ‘Certified U.S. Wheat.’ That shows the success USW has had building a preference for our wheat, and I’m proud of that.”

In Singapore, the team members next visited a bakery training and supply company. They also had briefings from USW/Singapore regional staff member, who demonstrated how producer-funded USW activities are carried out in the region and how USW works together with local USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) staff to represent U.S. farmers.

Next, the team traveled to Jakarta, Indonesia, where they met with the largest flour mill in the world, as well as three competing milling companies. The contrast in bakeries between the Philippines and Indonesia, where small-medium end-user enterprises (SME’s) dominate 67 percent the market, was quite clear.

“This was one of the biggest surprises for me, especially since these SME’s sometimes only use one 25 kilogram bag of flour per day,” said Anderson.

During their visit to Indonesia, the team visited Dynamic Bakery, which is a customer of Bogasari, the largest flour mill in Indonesia.

The team toured three of those bakeries in Jakarta. SME’s vary from home-based bakeries to medium scale businesses with a store front. The at-home bakeries were truly unique, and the importance of these niche producers really resonated with the group.

In such a rapidly growing wheat foods market, there are fears that “Indonesia will run out of milling capacity within the next few years if markets keep growing at the present pace,” according to one milling executive. One reason: the cost of production is a limiting factor; logistics alone make up 10 percent of variable costs.

At another flour mill, the group learned more about current market trends. In Indonesia, about 50 percent of flour in the market goes to instant noodle production. Currently, noodle production is met largely with flour from Australian white wheat. However, the team was told there is at least a window of opportunity for U.S. hard red winter wheat, especially given the recent production challenges that have significantly bumped up Australian wheat import prices.

During their visit to Indonesia, the team visited and toured Bogasari, the country’s largest flour mill, which has approximately 50% of the country’s market share. They were also joined in Indonesia by Matt Weimar, USW Regional Vice President for South Asia; and Ivan Goh, USW Biscuit/Bakery and Noodle Technologist.

“It was clear that the uncertainty of low margins and where the price of wheat will be next year was an overall concern for all markets” said Volk. “This just proves that overall U.S. wheat quality needs to be consistent from year to year.”

The team will report to the USW board of directors later this year. To see pictures from this and other Board Team trips, please visit the USW Facebook Page at

*Header Photo Caption: Visit to MY San – the market leading biscuit company in the Philippines. Mt. Makiling is in the background. (L to R) Phil Volk, North Dakota Wheat Commission; Joe Anderson, Idaho Wheat Commission; Catherine Miller, USW Programs and Planning Coordinator; Wally Powell, Oregon Wheat Commission; and Joe Sowers, USW Regional Vice President for Philippines and Korea.