USW President Vince Peterson and the USW Policy Team met with members of the Japanese Flour Millers Association (JFMA) for discussions at USW's Arlington office.

USW President Vince Peterson and the USW Policy Team met with members of the Japanese Flour Millers Association (JFMA) for discussions at USW’s Arlington office.

Executives from top flour milling companies in Japan visited the Arlington, Virginia, office of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) April 26. It was part of an annual trade mission seeking updates on the U.S. wheat crop and trade policy issues.

Starting in the Nation’s Capital

Made up of members of the Japanese Flour Millers Association (JFMA), the team also visited USDA offices. One stop included a meeting with Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Daniel Whitley.  The East Coast visit included a stop at the Japanese Embassy in Washington, D.C.

The team then traveled to Oregon for a briefing from USW’s West Coast Office in Portland.

Valued Updates on U.S. Wheat

In Arlington, USW President Vince Peterson, Vice President of Policy Dalton Henry and Director of Trade Policy Peter Laudeman answered questions from some of U.S. wheat’s biggest customers. According to USW Japan Country Director Rick Nakano, the participating companies represent 80% of the Japanese wheat flour market.

“It is a trip that these executives look forward to each year because it offers them an opportunity to see many aspects of the U.S. wheat industry and discuss things face-to-face,” Nakano said. “The members return to Japan and share the things they learned in the various meetings.”

Henry said USW is always eager to provide updates and interact with JFMA members – be it in Japan or here in the U.S.

“The milling executives are always interested in U.S. wheat production and exploring our attitudes and opinions on biotechnology. This includes gene-edited wheat and drought-resistant wheat,” Henry said. “These are topics that get a lot of attention in ag media and other channels. So it’s important for us to have these in-person meetings to discuss what is happening. We are partners, so it is good to have these discussions on a regular basis.”

Mike Moran, Executive Director of the Wheat Marketing Center (WMC) in Portland, provides the team of Japanese flour millers with a tour of the WMC facility.

Mike Moran, Executive Director of the Wheat Marketing Center (WMC) in Portland, provides the team of Japanese flour millers with a tour of the WMC facility.

Moving on to the West Coast . . .

USW staff in Portland provided updates on the wheat crop in the Pacific Northwest. The Japanese team then had meetings with the Oregon Wheat Commission, and the Wheat Marketing Center (WMC). Visits with traders and exporters across the region followed.

At the WMC, Executive Director Mike Moran gave a tour of the facility. The group had the opportunity to learn about the different pilot lines in the WMC’s Innovation Lab, along with looks inside the Analytical Lab and Baking Lab.

The JFMA team returned to Japan on May 1.

“The team is very appreciative of the continued partnership and the support from U.S. wheat industry,” Nakano said as the Oregon portion of the visit ended. “We pack a lot into a short period of time, and there is a lot of travel, but the flour millers always leave the U.S. with a lot of good information to take home to their businesses.”


The U.S. Wheat Associates’ (USW) Policy Team is busy preparing to host a Japan Trade Team in Washington, D.C. this month. It’s an opportunity for USW Vice President of Policy Dalton Henry and Director of Trade Policy Peter Laudeman to meet face-to-face with valuable customers of U.S. wheat and discuss the U.S. wheat industry.

Last month, Laudeman joined a coalition of U.S. agricultural representatives at the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Thirteenth WTO Ministerial Conference (MC13) in Abu Dhabi. Trade officials from across the world attended the event to review the functioning of the multilateral trading system and to take action on the future work of the WTO.

In this short video, Laudeman provides an update on the USW Policy Team as the second quarter of 2024 takes shape . . . .

USW Vice President of Overseas Operations (left) meets a U.S. wheat customer from Taiwan (right) introduced by USW Taiwan Country Director Yi-I Huang during the 2023 USW North Asia Marketing Conference.

USW Vice President of Overseas Operations (left) meets a U.S. wheat customer from Taiwan (right) introduced by USW Taiwan Country Director Yi-I Huang during the 2023 USW North Asia Marketing Conference.

In an average year, buyers in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan import 20% of the U.S. wheat crop. It is an impressive statistic that speakers referenced more than a few times during the recent U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) North Asia Marketing Conference. 

The two-day gathering that drew wheat buyers from all three countries to Bali, Indonesia, served as an example of USW’s ability to showcase U.S. wheat quality and key components of the industry’s efficient and effective supply chain efficiently. 

Including, of course, the people who grow U.S. wheat. 

“As a wheat farmer and a new wheat commissioner, this is my first trip overseas, and it didn’t take long to see the bonds U.S. wheat has built in these three markets,” said David Brewer, an Oregon wheat farmer who recently joined the Oregon Wheat Commission 

Speakers Covered All Bases

Conference participants also included USW staff from all three countries, USDA officials, and state wheat commission staff. The speakers selected by USW shared updates on crop production, crop quality outlooks, new technologies, financial forecasts, transportation issues and insights into the global wheat market. 

USW President Vince Peterson pointed out that Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are three countries with separate cultures, industries and languages, yet they share a common interest in U.S. wheat.  

Oregon wheat farmer David Brewer (second from left) listens to speakers at the North Asia Marketing Conference.

Oregon wheat farmer David Brewer (second from left) listens to speakers at the North Asia Marketing Conference.

“Bringing buyers from each country together in one place at one time is a tremendous experience and builds camaraderie amongst the three countries that I think helps us to market wheat to them collectively,” Peterson explained. “Japan, Korea and Taiwan each have customers that we have worked with for decades. We established some of these offices in the 1950s, so we have 60 or 70 years of experience and history with them.” 

Customers Appreciate Information Sharing

Sang-Won Yong, an executive with Daehan Flour Mills in South Korea, expressed appreciation for USW’s ability to organize the conference. A long-time buyer of U.S. wheat, Yong found the opportunity to meet wheat industry people from the U.S. and flour millers from other countries in one place, at one time, both refreshing and encouraging. 

USW Vice President of Trade Policy Dalton Henry presents on new technologies in wheat production - a topic that attracted a lot of attention from wheat buyers from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

USW Vice President of Trade Policy Dalton Henry presents on new technologies in wheat production – a topic that attracted a lot of attention from wheat buyers from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

“Everyone at this conference was focused on the important things we deal with every day, and that is how to make our customers happy and how to keep our businesses going forward,” he said. “We all find U.S. wheat to be a big part of the formula to do what we do, to produce quality products for our customers. We’ve been able to rely on U.S. wheat farmers to produce the quality wheat we need.” 

Quality is Top of Mind

Shojiro Kubota, Managing Executive Officer at Nitto Fuji Flour Milling in Tokyo, said Japanese consumers expect quality products. Using U.S. wheat has helped keep his company’s customers happy, so he finds value in hearing about the current U.S. wheat crop and other issues that affect the ability to purchase it. 

“Things we learn from the speakers and presentations, and having conversations with those in the U.S. wheat industry is very helpful,” Kubota said. “The millers from each country may be looking for different types of wheat for different types of uses, but we have many of the same questions about importing wheat. It’s a great idea to bring all of us together.” 

(left to right) Japan Country Director Rick Nakano, South Korea Country Director Dong-Chan “Channy” Bae and Taiwan Country Director Yi-I Huang pause for a photo during the welcome reception at the 2023 USW North Asia Marketing Conference.

(left to right) Japan Country Director Rick Nakano, South Korea Country Director Dong-Chan “Channy” Bae and Taiwan Country Director Yi-I Huang pause for a photo during the welcome reception at the 2023 USW North Asia Marketing Conference.

Rick Nakano, Dong-Chan “Channy” Bae and Yi-I Huang – USW Country Directors from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, respectively – each led groups of U.S. wheat customers to the conference, meeting individually with those customers to make sure all their questions were answered. 

Farmers Happy to Answer Questions

Brewer and USW Chairman Michael Peters had several questions posed to them about the U.S. wheat crop and overall production across all six classes of U.S. wheat. 

“I’ve actually had some of these buyers on my farm for trade team visits, and they were eager to hear about the crop situation back home,” said Brewer. “Seeing those same customers in their environment helps me understand how they make buying decisions.” 

One thing that became evident to Brewer over the two days is how all the U.S. wheat classes are utilized.  

“I’m a farmer from the northwest, but it makes me feel good to hear buyers from these important markets talking about wheat from Ohio, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and other states,” he said. “It reminds us that we are unified as farmers. When I get back home and have the chance to share what I learned in Asia, I will emphasize that our customers here really want to know what is available in the U.S. It’s all about the quality we produce.” 


Three different countries, three different languages, three different cultures and three different sets of consumers. Yet flour millers from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan actually have something in common: They have a strong interest in U.S. wheat.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) invited wheat buyers from each country to Bali, Indonesia, August 28 and 29, 2023, for the 2023 USW North Asia Marketing Conference. The conference provides an opportunity for U.S. producers to meet their customers and share information about this year’s wheat crop. It also gives customers the chance to hear about each aspect of the U.S. wheat supply chain and learn about the global wheat market.

USW President Vince Peterson

Vince Peterson

“It is a very unique gathering because of the differences in the markets, but our staff in each of the participating offices is able to organize it in a way that brings wheat buyers together with everyone to share information and learn about all the advantages of buying U.S. wheat,” said USW President Vince Peterson. “In fact, you immediately notice a camaraderie as flour millers meet with farmers and others in the U.S. industry.”

The short video below captures some scenes as the conference opened on Aug. 28 in Bali.


Eight executives from top Japanese flour mills arrived in the U.S. this week, bringing with them an astute observation about the global wheat market: Supply and demand have had an odd relationship over the past three years.

Through it all, Toshiaki Yokoyama emphasized, “the relationship between U.S. wheat and Japan has not wavered.”

During a meeting between U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the Japan Flour Millers Association (JFMA) on Monday, Yokoyama, JFMA Chair and Director of Nisshin Flour Milling Inc., expressed JFMA’s appreciation for the ability of U.S. farmers to produce a stable and consistent supply of high-quality wheat – even amid challenging times and conditions.

Members of the Japan Flour Millers Association pose for a photo with USW President Vince Peterson and USW Japan Country DIrector Rick Nakano following a meeting at USW headquarters.

Members of the Japan Flour Millers Association pose for a photo with USW President Vince Peterson (center) and USW Japan Country Director Rick Nakano (front row, far left) following a meeting at USW headquarters.

“Over the past three years, the spread of COVID-19 and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have had a great impact on the relationship between wheat supply and demand, but the strong ties established over the years between Japan and the United States have remained solid,” Yokoyama said. “We are very happy to get back to the U.S. It is quite important to maintain and develop this good relationship under all circumstances, and we value continued cooperation by the U.S. wheat industry.”

JFMA, which also visited USDA and the Japanese Embassy during its time in Washington, D.C., was seeking updates on U.S. wheat production and exploring U.S. attitudes and opinions on biotechnology, including gene-edited wheat and drought-resistant wheat. International trade, disruption in the Black Sea region and the climate were other discussion topics.

It was JFMA’s first visit to the U.S. since 2019.

“These are our primary customers in Japan, which is regularly our second or third largest wheat market in the world, so we were very happy to have them here again and to be able to discuss things with them face to face,” said USW President Vince Peterson. “U.S. wheat has a long-term investment in Japan, and I believe they have a long-term investment in us, as well. It’s a great partnership and we are looking forward to continuing that partnership.”

Peterson and USW Vice President of Trade Policy Dalton Henry met with the JFMA team, which was led by Rick Nakano, USW Country Director in Japan. After its stop in D.C., the team moved on to Portland, Oregon, where it visited USW West Coast staff, state wheat associations in the Pacific Northwest, the Wheat Marketing Center and United Grain’s export facility.

See a brief video of JFMA’s visit to USW below.


Taeyoung Grain Terminal’s CEO took time from his busy schedule March 8, 2023, to meet with U.S. farmers from Idaho, Montana and Nebraska and explain what happens when a shipment of imported U.S. wheat arrives in South Korea (photo above).

It was a fitting way for the U.S. Wheat Associates’ (USW) 2023 North Asia Board Team to wrap up its 10-day exploration of top Asian markets.

“We’ve been able to see every step, where demand for our wheat is created at the consumer level, to the baking process where flour is used as the ingredient, to the milling process where flour is made with our wheat, and now to the import process, which is how our wheat gets to the market in the first place,” explained Bob Delsing, a Nebraska wheat producer and Nebraska Wheat Board member.

Delsing took note of another important detail, too.

“The other farmers and I on the trip really noticed the respect people have shown us,” Delsing added. “The end of the Korea visit was a perfect example. Tae Hyun Yeo, who leads grain terminal as CEO, seemed happy to spend time with us and get to know us. We saw that over and over on this trip.”

Along with Delsing, team members are Bill Flory, of the Idaho Wheat Commission (IWC); Keven Bradley, of the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee (MWBC); Kent Kupfner, Executive Vice President of MWBC; and USW Director of Communications Ralph Loos.

USW Country Director Rick Nakano discusses Japan's milling and baking industry to members of the 2023 USW North Asia Board Team.

USW Country Director Rick Nakano discusses Japan’s milling and baking industry with 2023 USW North Asia Board Team members (l to r) Bob Delsing, Keven Bradley, Bill Flory and Kent Kupfner.

Representing the USW Board of Directors, the team arrived in the Philippines on Feb. 28, then made stops in Japan and South Korea to meet customers of U.S. wheat. A return to the U.S. is scheduled for March 10.

“It was exciting to have the Board Team in Tokyo, and in fact it is the first team we’ve hosted since before the pandemic,” said USW Japan Director Rick Nakano. “The goal was to give the farmers a look at the market and how USW works to create demand for U.S. wheat. Our customers were eager to meet face-to-face with this team and get a perspective from wheat growers. Our customers also wanted to share what they need to help their businesses. We had some exceptionally good discussions.”

Compliments on Quality, Questions About Supply

Two overlying themes dominated each meeting between the USW team and flour millers in each of the three Asian markets: quality and supply.

“Our members are always very satisfied with U.S. wheat’s quality – never a question,” Jeong-seop Park, director of the Korea Flour Mills Industrial Association (KOFMIA), offered during a meeting between the team and his organization. “We have come to rely on that quality and we wish to show appreciation for the work U.S. farmers do to assure it in every crop.”

The 2023 USW North Asia Board Team meeting with members of the Korean Flour Millers Industrial Association in Seoul, South Korea

The 2023 USW North Asia Board Team met with members of the Korean Flour Millers Industrial Association at the KOFMIA headquarters in Seoul, South Korea.

Like other customers the USW team met in the Philippines, Japan and Korea, KOFMIA asked each farmer about the status of his current wheat crop and projections for 2023 success come harvest time.

Questions in each market were centered on the supply of wheat from the United States.

“Those are difficult questions to answer this time of year because we won’t know about our winter wheat crop until later in the spring, but I feel they were satisfied with our answers and I feel they understand,” said Bradley, who has roughly 5,400 acres of hard red winter wheat (HRW) wheat in the ground on his Montana farm. “This was my first visit to a foreign market, so I learned a lot about our customers in each of the countries we visited. It’s an eye-opening experience and you see the value of the U.S. Wheat Associates offices in each market. The [USW] staff does a great job interacting with our customers.”

In addition to the Taeyoung Grain Terminal in Pyeongtaek , the South Korea leg of the journey included a tour of the Sajodongaone Dangjin Flour Mill. The day prior was packed with productive meetings in Seoul with Agricultural officials from the U.S. Embassy, the KOFMIA members, Samhwa Flour Mills, Daehan Flour Mills and the CJ Cheiljedang Corporation.

Members of the 2023 USW North Asia Board Team toured the Sajodongaone Dangjin flour mill March 7, 2023.

Members of the 2023 USW North Asia Board Team toured the Sajodongaone Dangjin flour mill March 7, 2023. Here, USW Seoul Food/Bakery Technologist Shin Hak “David” Oh translates the mill manager’s explanation of this display of  flour streams the mill creates for Korean bakeries.

Japanese Stress ‘Trust and Understanding’

In Japan, the farmers met with the Japan Flour Millers Association (JFMA), as well as Agricultural Affairs and Agricultural Trade Offices of the U.S. Embassy and Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF). A tour of the Nippn Corporation’s Chiba Flour Mill provided insight into Japan’s use of U.S. wheat.

JFMA members pointed to the long relationship Japanese millers have had with U.S. producers. Recent high prices for U.S. wheat have been a concern, along with future production. However, officials made it clear they understand how weather affects the wheat crop and that they trust U.S. farmers.

JFMA Executive Director Yasuo Sasaki sought input from the USW Team about their farms and the business challenges they face.

In Tokyo, the 2023 USW North Asia Board Team met with members of the Japan Flour Millers Association.

USW Tokyo Country Director Rick Nakano (far right) introduces the the 2023 USW North Asia Board Team to members of the Japan Flour Millers Association.

“High-quality wheat is what we need in Japan to satisfy our customers and consumers and we also need a reliable supply of that high-quality wheat,” said Sasaki. “We know we can count on U.S. farmers to come through.”

Kupfner, a former wheat trader and grain company manager, went into the Japan part of the trip interested in growth opportunities for U.S. wheat.

“What we saw in Japan was a large urban population with an appetite for all kinds of food, but especially top-quality foods,” he said. “It’s a very consistent market and we want to maintain U.S. wheat’s place in it.”

Bakery Fair Connections

Highlights of the Philippines portion of the trip were a tour of the Gardenia Baking Facility and participation on the Filipino-Chinese Bakery Association’s 2023 Bakery Fair in Manila.

While not a “North Asian” market, the Bakery Fair provided a special opportunity for this Board Team. During the Fair’s opening ceremony, Flory was invited to provide remarks on behalf of the U.S. wheat industry. He shared his appreciation for the long relationship between U.S. wheat and the Philippines.

“From our farms to you” is the salutation Flory used to end his address to bakers and industry partners gathered. He shared his appreciation for the long relationship between U.S. wheat and the Philippines.

“We have had a long connection and we have had a long record of success together,” said Flory, a member of the USW Board of Directors and current Chair of the Wheat Marketing Center board. “We know that you rely on us to supply you with the wheat you need and desire. We want you to know that we take pride in that.”

By USW Director of Communications Ralph Loos


U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) has been blessed to work with many impressive customers in the global flour milling industry. Among them was Mr. Hiroshi Sawada, Chairman of Nippn Corp., who passed away on Nov. 21, 2021, at the age of 90.

The late Hiroshi Sawada

Mr. Hiroshi Sawada. Photo courtesy of Nippn Corp.

“Mr. Sawada was a true pioneer in Japan’s flour milling industry, joining Nippon Flour Mills Co. in 1953,” said USW President Vince Peterson. “During most of the 64 years we have had an office in Japan, Mr. Sawada always graciously welcomed our representatives and farmer leaders and was very generous with his time. Serving four terms as Chairman of the Japan Flour Millers Association, Mr. Sawada helped build the close relationship between U.S. wheat farmers and his country’s flour millers. It has been an honor working with him and we send sincere condolences to Mr. Sawada’s family and his colleagues.”

Over his 68-year career at Nippon Flour Mills (which changed its name to Nippn Corp. in January 2021), Mr. Sawada served as Director, Managing Director and Senior Managing Director. He was named President in 1993 then Chairman & CEO in 2002. Nippn Corp. is the second largest flour milling company in Japan.

Legion of Honor

Among his career highlights, Mr. Sawada received Japan’s Legion of Honor award for his contributions to the country’s food industry. In 2017, the “Great Falls (MT) Tribune” featured Mr. Sawada in an article about Nippn’s ownership of Pasta Montana in which he talked about his first visit to that state in 1967.

Photo of Kolstads with Mr. Sawada

Chairman Sawada with 2018/19 USW Chairman Chris Kolstad and his wife Vicki at Nippn Corp. in 2019. The photo at the top of this page was taken in 2018 when U.S. wheat industry representatives helped celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Japan Flour Millers Association.


There is renewed hope this week that the United States and Japan are making good progress toward a trade agreement that we hope will ensure U.S. wheat can continue competing with Canadian and Australian wheat based on quality, variety and value. Currently, under the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Japan’s effective tariffs on Canadian and Australian wheat imports are discounted and will continue being discounted to the tariff on U.S. wheat imports. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) has every confidence that our agricultural trade negotiators working with Japan fully understand the need to mitigate the risk to U.S. wheat farmers in an agreement. We thank them for their efforts.

As the talks move forward, USW thinks it is important to review the indelible link between the Japanese people and U.S. wheat producers. It began when the Oregon Wheat Growers League (OWGL) organized a trade delegation to investigate opportunities for expanding U.S. wheat sales to Japan in 1949. In 1956, with a vision to the future, OWGL opened an office in Tokyo to share information the wholesome goodness of wheat foods. The success of this endeavor helped encourage wheat farmer organizations in the state of Washington and Oregon to join OWGL in forming Western Wheat Associates (WWA), which merged with Great Plains Wheat in 1980 to become USW.

In the early years, USW’s legacy organization focused on acquainting the Japanese people with the nutritional value of wheat foods. Perhaps the most famous were “Kitchens on Wheels” traveling through rural Japan to promote wheat foods to Japanese consumers, conducted jointly by OWGL and the Japan Nutrition Association with financial assistance from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), which has remained an essential partner with USW and our Japanese customers. Eventually, management of these programs transitioned to eight key prefectures. Another early program involved the introduction of bread to school lunch programs.

Kitchen buses helped introduce the Japanese people to the nutritional value of wheat foods. This project started in 1956 was the first of many successful wheat promotion programs sponsored by U.S. wheat farmers in close cooperation with the Japanese government, millers, bakers and the grain trade over the last 60 years.


Starting with bread donations, the U.S. wheat industry continued to help introduce bread to school lunch programs allowing Japanese children to enjoy the taste and nutrition of a new type of food.

As market conditions changed, the wheat industry’s Tokyo office contracted with the Japan Institute of Baking to conduct functional and quality testing offering proof that flour products milled from U.S. hard red spring and hard red winter wheat classes could compete with Canadian spring wheat. Those early efforts continued to expand and change as Japan’s milling and baking industries advanced in sophistication and automation to set global standards of cleanliness, uniformity and variety of products for consumers.

Working to Increase Confidence. For example, Japanese flour mills and their customers demand very high standards of cleanliness and uniformity in addition to the variety of wheat classes to make the wide range of flour products for hundreds of different wheat food products — and U.S. wheat producers consistently meet those standards. Recognizing that our customers in Japan needed the confidence they could contract for and receive wheat of the highest quality, USW took action. Managers worked closely with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry (MAFF), Japan’s grain trade and flour millers to refine specifications in tenders for U.S. wheat. At the same time, USW and its state wheat commission members worked with the U.S. grain trade to respond to these specifications. Partly as a result, Pacific Northwest export elevators changed their processes to improve segregation and installed cleaners. That commitment to reliability and customer service combined with the high quality and end-use performance is why Japanese flour mills prefer and choose to source 50 percent of their annual needs – almost 3 million metric tons per year on average – of wheat from the United States.

In 2016, U.S. wheat farmers and U.S. Wheat Associates traveled to Tokyo to celebrate the founding of a U.S. wheat export office in Japan in 1956. Here is that delegation at the offices of the Japan Flour Millers Association. Bringing Japanese millers and U.S. wheat farmers together builds a closer working relationship. The result is greater trust and a big reason why Japanese millers keep producing flour from U.S. wheat.

Over the years, a strong trust had grown between U.S. wheat farmers, state wheat commissions, USW, MAFF, millers and bakers, as well as the Japanese grain trade and their quality assurance partners. USW and the farmers we represent take this opportunity to renew our commitment to producing the highest quality, highest value wheat for our customers in Japan and around the world.


Headlines on the trade front this week have direct bearing on the U.S. wheat industry’s desire to reaffirm our trade relationship with long-standing customers in Japan and Mexico, and to renew our relationship with customers in China. For now, at least, the news is positive.

U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Robert Lighthizer this week told members of Congress that the Trump Administration hopes to “wrap up” an agricultural trade agreement with Japan “later this year.” That is good news for flour millers in Japan, who do not want to continue paying incremental effective tariffs for U.S. soft white (SW), hard red spring (HRS) and hard red winter (HRW) relative to Canadian and Australian wheat under the new TPP-11 agreement. Repairing this potential breach with Japan is essential for wheat farmers who, with their partnership with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service have invested countless resources for more than 60 years to serve the demanding Japanese flour and wheat foods industries.

Amb. Lighthizer also reached out to members of Congress who have expressed concerns about the new U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement on Trade (USMCA). In a description of his remarks, Agri-Pulse reported that the USTR “bent over backwards to assure Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee that he was hearing and addressing their concerns, both about enforcing labor rules in Mexico and about whether the trade pact would hamstring efforts to lower pharmaceutical prices.” At the U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) 2019 Mexico Wheat Trade Conference early this month, our colleagues and our customers in Mexico identified that supporting the USMCA will be our shared focus. They took another big step today with news that Mexico’s Senate on Wednesday passed the USMCA, making it the first country to ratify the new trade pact. Mexico’s imports are the foundation of farm family incomes throughout the southern and central U.S. Plains. Losing it because of trade policies beyond their control is unthinkable.

On June 18, President Trump raised expectations for some positive trade outcome from his planned meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the upcoming G-20 summit. He said he had a “long talk” with Pres. Xi and, according to news reports, said “China very much wants to discuss the future and so do we.” In this case, “we” definitely includes U.S. wheat farmers who have been all but shut out of exporting wheat to China following the imposition of retaliatory tariffs in March 2018. Before then, Chinese flour millers and their baking customers were demanding more high-quality U.S. wheat to blend with domestic wheat. Now, China has replaced our wheat with competing supplies of Canadian spring wheat.

As Amb. Lighthizer said during his congressional testimony on negotiations with Japan, “I think we are making headway and we’re in a situation where we if we don’t make headway quickly, people will lose market share and never get those customers back.”

USW continues to support the need to enforce commitments made in multi- and bilateral trade agreements and, given this week’s upbeat news, look forward to a speedy resolution of these challenging situations.


By Ben Conner, USW Vice President of Policy

The United States and Japan kicked off negotiations this week on a potential trade agreement between these two Pacific Rim economic giants. While the path forward for these negotiations is not yet clear, the pace is likely to speed up with a schedule of additional meetings between these traditional trading partners.

With the knowledge that U.S. farmers and their Japanese customers face significant challenges in the coming years, we were glad to see agriculture mentioned prominently in the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) statement about the meetings.

USTR also reported that it raised the “very large trade deficit” with Japan as a primary area of concern. For U.S. agriculture, the concern is that the U.S. trade deficit with Japan seems poised to increase due to the disadvantage of being outside the Trans-Pacific Partnership (all other economic factors such as Japan’s significantly higher savings rate being equal). This month, in fact, Japan lowered its trade barriers further to imported agricultural products from many of the world’s major suppliers, but not the United States. Consequently, U.S. products, including wheat, are more expensive for Japanese importers.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has noted that there are two ways for other countries to shrink their deficit with the United States: buying more or selling less. His priority for overseas customers to buy more U.S. agriculture products. Here at U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), we strongly support that, but right now, in Japan, it is U.S. agriculture that is selling less.

The Trump Administration has described several trade policy problems facing U.S. industry. USW agrees with many and questions some, but we have strong hopes for an improved global trading system following the disruption that many see as necessary to rebalance trade relationships.

The Administration clearly has not forgotten U.S. agriculture, as the USTR statement proves. Concluding an agreement with Japan to offset the effects of withdrawing from TPP would be a crucial and welcome step toward demonstrating to U.S. farmers that their interests still matter.