The U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Seoul, South Korea, office commemorated its 50th year of service May 15, 2023, with honored guests from the flour milling, baking, and logistics industries, U.S. government officials, U.S. wheat farmer leaders and colleagues.

Speakers during the event focused on the remarkable growth of the South Korean wheat foods supply system as well as the “ironclad” industrial and national partnership with the United States and USW.

Celebrating the Partnership

USW Country Director Dong-Chan (Channy) Bae kicked off the anniversary program by noting USW’s long-term commitment to helping the South Korean milling and baking industry advance and grow. He affirmed the success of the partnership, saying “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together – and together we have accomplished much.”

In his remarks, USW President Vince Peterson first looked back at the U.S.-South Korea wheat industry relationship. Referencing a 1984 article, Peterson said the author called out South Korea’s growth in U.S. wheat imports as an example of the very successful economic and security linkage between our two countries.

He said South Korea’s first commercial purchase of U.S. wheat in 1972 (following many years of donations under the PL-480 Food for Peace program) created the opportunity to open a U.S. wheat promotion office and more.

Since then, the South Korean milling and baking industry has seen “astounding growth until today when you import an average of 1.4 million metric tons of U.S. wheat and now export ramen products valued at more than $750 million,” Peterson said. “We thank you all and want you to know we remain dedicated to the partnership that helped fuel that growth.”

Chairman Won-Ki Ryu represented the Korea Flour Mills Industrial Association (KOFMIA) and said members of the organization greatly valued the relationship with U.S. farmers and USW.

“Together we have made major accomplishments that have significantly contributed to the advancement of flour milling in our country,” he said.

Executives from the South Korean flour milling and baking industries, USDA FAS, and USW cut a ceremonial cake celebrating the 50th anniversary of USW's Seoul office.

USW and representatives from Korea’s flour milling and baking industries, and USDA FAS cut a commemorative cake made with U.S. wheat flour by the Korean Baking School to celebrate the 50th anniversary of USW’s office in Seoul, South Korea. Left to Right: Channy Bae, USW Country Director; Darren Padget, USW Past Chairman; In Seok Song, CEO Daehan Flour Mills Co., Ltd.; Won-Ki Ryu, Chairman, KOFMIA; Vince Peterson, USW President; Mark Dries, Ag Minister Counselor, USDA-FAS; Michael Peters, USW Vice Chairman.

A Flagship Commodity

Mark Dries, Agricultural Minister Counselor, with USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, offered heartfelt congratulations to USW on its anniversary. He said milling wheat is now the fifth largest U.S. commodity imported by South Korea.

“We are very pleased to help celebrate this accomplishment. Wheat is one of the flagship export products to South Korea and has helped fuel the amazing innovations we see in bakery products here,” Dries said.

USW was fortunate to have three of its wheat farmer leaders participate in the event in Seoul: Past Chairman Darren Padget of Grass Valley, Oregon; Vice Chairman Michael Peters of Okarche, Oklahoma; and Secretary-Treasurer Clark Hamilton of Ririe, Idaho.

USW Vice President of Overseas Operations Mike Spier also provided an overview of the global and U.S. wheat supply and demand situation. He showed that the now four-year downward trend in ending stocks will likely support world and U.S. wheat prices. He said while U.S. hard red winter wheat supplies will remain tight, the potential for more normal soft white and hard red spring (DNS) wheat crops for 2023 is good. At the same time, Spier said to expect continued volatility given the uncertainty of the Black Sea situation.

Thanks to Colleagues

USW wants to recognize the dedicated work of its Seoul-based colleagues Channy Bae, Country Director, Shin-Hak (David) Oh, Food & Bakery Technologist, and Jin Young Lee, Marketing and Program Coordinator. USW was also pleased that Dr. Won Bang Koh, who served as Country Director for more than 30 years, was able to participate in this special anniversary celebration.

Photo of a panel discussion at the USW South and Southeast Asia Marketing Conference.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) in cooperation with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service welcomed close to 200 guests to a South and Southeast Asian Marketing Conference May 9 to 11 in Phuket, Thailand. This was the first such conference in that region since 2012 and comes at a challenging time for the milling and wheat foods business.

Demonstrating Partnership

“It was great to have everyone back together again,” said Joe Sowers, USW Regional Vice President. “Our regional milling and baking customers are dealing with a lot of uncertainty and market volatility and the pandemic limited our direct service work for a long time, so this is another way for us to demonstrate our commitment to them and why U.S. wheat remains important to their businesses.”

The conference theme, “Building Prosperity Through Partnership,” and presentations reminded customers that USW is committed to being a steadfast partner in both challenging and stable times. The program provided perspective on geopolitical and market forces shaping the regional wheat food industry, an early look at the 2023 U.S. wheat crop, and reports from millers in several South and Southeast Asian countries, including Antonina Sio, Assistant Vice President and General Manager of San Miguel Flour Mills in Batangas, Philippines.

Value in Networking

“I am attending the conference to learn more about the industry, the trends and what’s happening all over the world and, at the same time, to collaborate and network with my counterparts around the region,” Sio said.

Those millers expressed hope that flour demand will grow in the future based on population growth and changing economic factors. To give millers and bakers additional tools to help achieve that growth, USW included technical presentations on using solvent retention capacity analysis to select specific flours that perform best for specific end uses.

“The experience that we gain by learning from Mr. Roy Chung and from conferences like this gives us a lot of knowledge so we can improve our baking skills and improve products for our customers,” said Daniel Tay, Founder of Foodnostics in Singapore.

Darren Padget stands in front of a panel with a photo of his hand with his calculation of how much bread can be made from wheat grown on his farm at the South And Southeast Asian Marketing Conference.

Growing Wheat is Dirty Work. Presenting to the South and Southeast Asian Marketing Conference May 10, USW Past Chairman Darren Padget, a wheat farmer from Grass Valley, Ore., shared how he calculated (in his own way), how many loaves of bread can be made from the wheat he produces every year on his farm.

Thanks to Sponsors

Several USW farmer board members travelled to Phuket to participate in the conference, as did representatives from sponsoring organizations including the Idaho Wheat Commission, Nebraska Wheat Board, North Dakota Wheat Commission, Oregon Wheat Commission, and Washington Grain Commission. Additional funding was provided by Agrex, Inc., Bunge, Cargill, CHS, CoBank, Columbia Grain, Pacificor, LLC, United Grain Corp., and Viterra.

USW's . The 2023 South and Southeast Asian Marketing Conference will be held May 9-11 in Phuket, Thailand.

The 2023 South and Southeast Asian Marketing Conference will be held May 9-11 in Phuket, Thailand.

After more than a decade of absence, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is restarting an event that brings together customers and partners in an important region of the world. The 2023 South and Southeast Asian Marketing Conference will be held May 9-11 in Phuket, Thailand.

“Building Prosperity Through Partnership” is the theme of the conference, which will focus on the value of U.S. wheat and people who produce, supply and support it in the global marketplace. Asian millers, buyers and importers in the region will have the opportunity to meet with U.S. wheat farmers, state wheat associations, USDA representatives and USW technical and marketing staff. Likewise, those from the U.S. wheat industry will be able to interact with customers and potential customers.

The conference will include input from major flour mills in the region, with a panel discussion focused on the perspective of millers in Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines.

“We recognized that the time had come to revitalize the conference to engage the trade and visit with our dedicated customers in the region,” said Joe Sowers, USW Regional Vice President for South and Southeast Asia. “At the same time, there are opportunities to make new customers while also tackling challenges and identifying ideas for business growth. We have a top-notch lineup of speakers and presenters, along with a host of panel discussions that address critical issues in 2023 and beyond.”

USW’s Wheat Letter Blog will provide regular updates from the conference. Videos and blog posts will appear on the site throughout the event.


Educators describe internal training sessions as “learning so we can teach.” The U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) version for its staff dives a few rungs deeper than that.

“The goal is to learn and do so we can, in turn, teach our customers around the world,” is how Miguel Galdos, Regional Director of the USW South American Region Office, puts it.

USW recently hosted – and participated in – the 2023 Core Competency Training, held this year in Santiago, Chile. Much more than a simple training session, the USW workshop brought together USW technical staff, board members and partners for a series of reviews and refreshers on wheat research, product development, market updates and strategy building. Meeting the needs of U.S. wheat buyers, end-users and consumers around the globe was the mission.

USW staff, board members and partners recently participated in the 2023 Core Competency Training in Santiago, Chile. The training sessions were designed to provide participants with tools to help share information and work with customers of U.S. wheat around the world.

USW staff, board members and partners recently participated in the 2023 Core Competency Training in Santiago, Chile. The training sessions were designed to provide participants with tools to help share information and work with U.S. wheat customers around the world.

At this year’s Core Competency Training,  USW was able to take advantage of the new flour milling, cereal chemistry and baking laboratory it opened two years ago in partnership with Universidad Mayor.  Built on the university’s Santiago campus, the lab is equipped with a test flour mill, wheat and flour analysis instruments and bread ovens.

“It was an unbeatable opportunity to bring together USW colleagues and be able to review relevant issues regarding many things, including our U.S. wheat crop quality analysis methods,” said Galdos. “Participants also had the opportunity to compare baking results with different origins of wheat, as well as share success experiences in each of the international markets. Additionally, we had the opportunity to evaluate future instances of collaboration with partner organizations that provide support to USW.”

USW Past Chair Darin Padget and current Chair work together on a baking assignment during the Core Competency Training in Santiago.

USW Past Chair Darren Padget and current Chair Rhonda Larson work together on a baking assignment during the Core Competency Training in Santiago.

Experiences during the Core Competency Training is fundamental: U.S. wheat is the most reliable choice, and its quality is unmatched. So information provided during the workshop is designed to help USW staff share information about U.S. wheat’s advantages when it comes to end-products, such as noodles, crackers, biscuits, tortillas, breads, and other baked products.

There is also a chance to meet with staff from other offices to share information.

Oregon wheat farmer and USW Past Chairman Darren Padget, Minnesota wheat farmer and USW Chair Rhonda Larson, and North Dakota wheat farmer Jim Pellman participated in this year’s training. The noted that the opportunity for USW colleagues to train together is very valuable.

“The format is very focused and was a great way to make sure the technical and marketing teams are pulling on the same oar in every market,” Padget said.

USW staff took time to memorialize the late Mark Fowler, USW’s Vice President of Global Technical Services, who passed away Feb, 20. Fowler was instrumental in creating the USW Core Competency Training program. He also played a major role in the development of the new laboratory in Santiago where USW has now placed a plaque in his memory.


Early spring – before the harvest of winter wheat and the planting of spring wheat – is a perfect time to highlight tools U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) provides to inform U.S. wheat farmers and their customers around the world.

It’s also a good time to remind readers of this blog how to access those USW tools.

USW Price Report       

USW gathers information from market sources to compile timely reports on prices and export sales of U.S. wheat. The USW Price Report, which is sent to subscribers each Friday, also includes updates on market conditions and input from people involved in each step of the wheat trading process.

Monitoring the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), Kansas City Board of Trade (KCBOT) and Minneapolis Grain Exchange (MGEX) wheat futures is only part of the process.

“A huge component is talking with the grain trade, farmers and other industry representatives to get a firsthand account of what is going on in the market and how it is impacting wheat prices,” explained USW Market Analysis Tyllor Ledford, who is responsible for the USW Price Report. “By reaching out to each segment of the trade process, I try to get as balanced view as I can of what is going on in the wheat marketplace and really understand what is driving movements.”

Click HERE to sign up to receive USW’s Price Report.

Whether it's harvest season, planting season or the brief windows of time in between, USW provides several vehicles and platforms to keep wheat farmers and customers informed.

Whether it’s harvest season, planting season – or the brief windows of time in between – USW provides several products and platforms to keep wheat farmers and customers informed. All you need to do is sign up.

USW Commercial Sales Report

While the USW Price Report includes an update on commercial sales of U.S. wheat, more detailed information is available in the USW Commercial Sales Report, published each Thursday on the USW website and also compiled by Ledford.

Using data sourced from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service Weekly Export Sales Report, the Commercial Sales Report contains wheat export sales-to-date by country and class for the current marketing year compared to the previous marketing year on the same date. The report also includes a 10-year commercial sales history by class and country.

USW Supply and Demand Report

USW’s Supply and Demand Report is published monthly on the USW website. Based on USDA’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE), it includes U.S. wheat supply and demand summaries by class, as well as market factors and country- and region-specific export history.

Harvest Reports

Beginning in May and running through mid-October, USW and partner organizations compile updates on crop quality, harvest progress and crop conditions for hard red winter (HRW), soft red winter (SRW), hard red spring (HRS), soft white (SW) and durum wheat.

Each week, the USW Harvest Report is emailed to those who have signed up to receive it.

“The weekly harvest report is an example of how we keep everyone in the industry regularly updated on the wheat crop and current market conditions,” said USW Vice President of Programs Erica Oakley, who handles compilation of the Harvest Report. “We gather information about each class and each state that is in the process of harvest. It’s a very helpful way to monitor production throughout the harvest season.”

Click HERE to sign up to receive USW’s Harvest Report.

Wheat Letter

If you are reading this, you likely already subscribe to USW’s Wheat Letter, a blog and news source that focuses on issues facing U.S. wheat farmers – trade policy, crop quality and other pertinent wheat industry news.

The blog is updated regularly throughout the week, with a newsletter-style collection of those blog posts emailed to subscribers every other Thursday.

Click HERE to sign up to receive USW’s Wheat Letter. You can also pass this link along to someone who would be interested in subscribing.

Articles of Interest

Early each morning, USW Director of Programs Catherine Miller compiles Articles of Interest, a daily news report by conducting web searches to identify industry-related news articles. The goal is to help keep everyone updated on issues and events that may affect the U.S. wheat industry.

“It’s a news brief that highlights a variety of topics, including trade policy issues, supply and demand situations, wheat research and breeding crop conditions and news that involves the people who work in the industry,” said Miller. “We see it as a food way to start the day with the latest news and serves as a platform to share important stories an articles from all over the world.”

To be considered for the USW Articles of Interest mailing list, email

Social Media

The newest platform in USW’s social media offerings is the USW YouTube Channel, which holds a growing number of USW-produced videos featuring USW staff, activities and partners.

USW is also has its own Facebook page, Twitter Account and Linked-In profile, each used to share information and quickly and efficiently.


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


Wheat growers do not need a USDA report in one hand and a slide rule in the other to conclude that escalating production costs are outpacing increases in crop revenue.

Nor do they need an economics degree to locate the heart of the matter.

“The numbers we are putting in are racing past the numbers we are getting out,” is how Oklahoma farmer Michael Peters sums it up.

The same sentiment is shared by Denise Conover, a Montana farmer who recently finished planting winter wheat. With a chance to sit down and look at her numbers, she offered “fresh off the press” examples of how input costs have swollen:

  • The starter fertilizer Conover applies went from $696.10 per ton in 2021 to $1,006.35 per ton in 2022.
  • She paid $712.50 per ton of Urea (nitrogen fertilizer) last year compared to $843 this year.
  • The diesel fuel used to harvest and plant wheat on her farm rose from $2.87 a gallon to $4.80 a gallon.

    Oklahoma farmer and USW Vice Chairman MIchael Peters (left) inspects emerging hard red winter wheat. Like wheat producers around the country, Peters is working to be more efficient with his operation to overcome rising costs in fuel, fertilizer and other inputs.

    Oklahoma farmer and USW Vice Chairman Michael Peters (left) inspects emerging hard red winter wheat. Like other wheat producers around the country, Peters is working to be more efficient with his operation to overcome rising costs in fuel, fertilizer and other inputs.

“The input costs are having an effect on our whole operation,” Conover, a member of the U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Board of Directors who farms with her two sons, said. “Yes, wheat prices are up, but not enough to cover the rising input costs.”

‘When the Price of Everything is Up’

According to USDA’s Farm Sector Income & Finances report, farm production expenses for 2022 are expected to increase by 17.8%, representing the largest year-to-year dollar increase on record. USDA forecasts expect all expense categories to move upward, with some of the most significant spikes in fertilizer-lime-soil conditioner expenses, which are forecast to increase by 52.3%, and interest expenses, which are expected to increase by more than 39%.

Ben Brown, University of Missouri senior research associate for the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute, said fertilizer is “by far the most complex market that farmers encounter currently.” Brown reported 200% to 300% increases in fertilizer costs in 2021 and the first half of 2022 due to reductions in supply and strong demand. Many of the same factors look poised to return in 2023, Brown added.

Peters, USW’s Vice Chairman, grows wheat and raises cattle. He noted that farm input costs go beyond fertilizer, seed and fuel. He pointed to rising interest rates that can be a punch to the gut for farmers who depend on loans each spring and fall to produce wheat and other crops. Supply chain woes hurt, as well. To put wheat in the ground this fall, Peters needed a part for his seeder.

Farmer Denise Conover recently completed planting wheat on her Montana farm. She said higher input costs "cancel out" any gains farmers may experience from higher wheat prices.

Farmer Denise Conover recently completed planting wheat on her Montana farm. She said higher input costs “cancel out” any gains farmers may realize due to higher wheat prices. (Photo courtesy of Scripps Media)

“Two years ago, I had to buy the same part and it came to about $170 – this time it was well over $300, which means the price basically doubled in two years,” he explained. “All of this bites into the bottom line, and I don’t think a lot of people outside of agriculture realize it.”

Indeed, that disconnect is real.

“Everybody goes, ‘$9 wheat, you farmers must really be making tons of money,” Conover said. “But at the end of the day, when the price of everything is up, too, it turns out not to be a good economic situation.”

Value of Export Markets Emphasized

American Farm Bureau Federation Economist Shelby Myers provided an overview to confirm what farmers like Peters and Conover are experiencing.

“This is leaving many farmers to question their ability to just break even this year, despite high crop prices,” Myers noted. “While increased investment and capacity may help in the long run, in the near term, farmers are concerned about making sure they have the inputs they need to put a crop in the ground?”

Despite challenges, U.S. wheat farmers have consistently produced a high-quality crop desired by many international buyers. While export prices and lower overall production have reduced demand, U.S. wheat exports have remained in step with production – roughly 50% of the wheat grown is being shipped overseas each year.

And studies have confirmed that export market development provides a high return on investment, a fact wheat farmers recognize in difficult times.

“It is important to remind ourselves where we would be without exports and what would happen if we suddenly didn’t have export markets,” said Peters.

Still, rising input costs are – or will – force wheat farmers to make tough decisions in future planting seasons. Along with rising costs, there is also pending competition for acreage caused by growing demand for other corn and crops. For example, it is estimated there will be a need for an additional 20 million acres of soybeans in coming years to meet the needs of companies that manufacture renewable fuels.

The ultimate concern is that farmers will cut back on wheat production, threatening U.S. wheat’s worldwide reputation as the most dependable supplier.

Think Harder, Be More Efficient

Unlike other industries, the job of growing wheat has little wiggle room when it comes to production. The difference between a positive bottom line and a negative bottom line often comes down to timing and things that are out of a farmer’s control.

But farmers are pretty good at squeezing as much as they can out of that “wiggle room.”

“You can’t really cut back on inputs like fertilizer, fuel or seed – these are all things you need to plant and harvest a quality crop,” said Peters. “The good thing is that farmers are good at being efficient. In these situations, we really must think about the timing of applying fertilizer to get the best result. There was a time when we would just go out and broadcast fertilizer and not think about it all that much. But now, we put a lot of thought into the process. Not every farmer can no-till, but in areas where no-till can be done, that is a way to cut back on fuel. It’s just adjusting when and where you can.”



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.”


A dramatic increase in demand for oilseeds could impact U.S. wheat production in coming years, with significantly more acres expected to be planted in soybeans destined for new and expanded crushing facilities.

Between 20 million and 25 million additional acres of soybeans will be needed to meet requirements of the renewable diesel industry, some analysts are predicting.

At the same time, global demand for wheat is also expected to rise, setting up dynamic competition for acreage in states where both crops are grown. For the U.S. wheat industry, the situation creates important questions: How much wheat acreage could potentially be lost to soybeans? Will lost acres impact the U.S.’ standing as the world’s most dependable wheat supplier? Can wheat and soybeans co-exist in a competitive environment?

This chart shows acreage planted in soybeans and wheat in 2022 in the country's top 10 soybean states, according to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

This chart shows total acreage planted in soybeans and total acreage planted in wheat in the country’s top 10 soybean states in 2022, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Where possible, farmers may adapt and double-crop more wheat and soybeans to maintain supplies of both crops. It is already a common practice in top soybean states like Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, where soft red winter wheat is the dominant class. But in soybean states that produce hard red winter and hard red spring wheat – Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota, for example – allotting acreage is more complicated due to average rainfall and shorter growing seasons.

The ultimate question is if U.S. farmers will be able to meet the demand for both wheat and soybeans by doing what they have always done – figure out a way to do more with less.

Many Options, Limited Acres

Mike Krueger, a grain industry consultant with Lida Communications, put a spotlight on the emerging “competition for acreage” during last month’s U.S. Wheat Associates World Staff Conference.

While describing volatility in global wheat and grain markets due uncertain market conditions, Krueger noted a more predictable factor that will affect markets and decisions made by U.S farmers.

“Renewable diesel is projected to increase eight-fold by 2030 and significant investments of more than $2 billion are being put into new and expanded soybean processing plants in the U.S. right now,” Krueger explained. “The U.S. soybean crush will expand by 10%, or more. We are talking vast numbers, and while sunflower and canola should be big beneficiaries of renewable diesel, soybeans are certainly going to be in even higher demand.”

A boost of 20 million acres would catapult soybean and go a long way toward meeting the projected oilseeds demand.

But at what cost?

The U.S. has consistently ranked as one of the top five wheat producing countries in the world and one of the top three wheat exporting countries. Would a major shift in acreage affect U.S. production, thus its place as a supplier?

“We must remember there’s also a global demand for wheat, as well as corn, and we have to consider ongoing drought and weather patterns, not to mention political conflicts that are impacting grain production and supplies all over the world,” Krueger said. “All of this, all the things going on that affect global trade, will put major emphasis on overall crop production in the U.S. and the entire Northern Hemisphere. To be honest, no crop can afford to give up or lose acres.”

Can Double-cropping Help?

Higher prices caused by global demand for wheat and soybeans appears to be motivating more farmers in the Midwest to consider seeding soft red winter wheat in the fall and soybeans in the same field following wheat harvest.

About 40% of producers responding to a Purdue University Ag Economy Barometer survey in June indicated they have utilized a wheat and soybean double-crop rotation in the past. About 28% of those producers planned to increase the amount of cropland devoted to this rotation by seeding more wheat this fall followed by soybean plantings on the same acres in spring 2023.

Some analysts have predicted that renewable diesel demand in coming years will require the planting of at least 20 million additional acres of soybeans. This chart from USDA shows soybean acreage over the past decade.

Some analysts have predicted that renewable diesel demand in coming years will require the planting of at least 20 million additional acres of soybeans. This chart from USDA shows soybean acreage and harvest over the past decade.

Ultimately, the biggest factor behind whether farmers begin growing an extra crop of wheat is what price they can get for the crop.

“The shift toward increasing soft red winter wheat acreage is likely the result of the expected profitability improvement of the wheat and double-crop soybean rotation,” James Mintert and Michael Langemeier, authors of the Purdue survey, noted.

A move by the federal government earlier this year to increase the number of counties eligible for double-cropping insurance was a move aimed at boosting U.S. production of wheat and soybeans by reducing the risk for farmers who decide to take the double-crop route.

Producers are well-aware that there are drawbacks to double-cropping wheat and soybeans.

“Compared to single-crop soybeans, double-crop soybeans have a shorter growing season due to the delay in planting until the wheat is harvested, which often result in reduced yields,” said Scott Gerlt, Chief Economist for the American Soybean Association (ASA). “Despite this drawback, double-cropping does allow increased production.”

Wheat Demand to Grow

Despite questions about acreage and production, U.S. wheat continues to be in demand by international customers because of its consistent quality and reliability.

Krueger expects the demand will continue to expand.

“A primary reason is that global wheat supplies are likely to shrink due to a renewed focus on soybeans, and to a lesser extent, corn,” Krueger said. “Another factor favoring U.S. producers involves shipping and logistics limitations that hamper competing wheat-growing countries, including Russia and Ukraine.”

Effects from a third consecutive La Nina would further pressure global supplies.

“These things will undoubtedly lead to more export demand for wheat,” Krueger said. “Can the U.S. meet the demand? That is the puzzle that’s still being put together. Farmers make decisions every single planting season. They only have so many acres to work with.”




By Michael Anderson, USW Assistant Director, West Coast Office

On Nov. 13, 1991, the Chicago Tribune ran this headline: “Soviet Bread Prices Skyrocket By 600%.” Bread was already in short supply and if you bought it that morning, you would have paid 60 kopeks, by that afternoon it was 3.60 rubles.

Apparently, the memory of such an event nearly three decades ago is still fresh in the mind of Russia’s President Putin. After he criticized the high price of flour and bread recently, the government quickly announced plans for wheat export taxes and an export quota, even though Russian farmers produced a massive wheat crop for this marketing year.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is not surprised. Despite making up a quarter of the worldwide wheat market, Russia continually insists on controlling exports to keep domestic food prices under control.

Over the last 13 years, Russia has placed some form of restriction on wheat exports six times, including twice in the last year. And, as a result, that choice always led to unnecessary disruptions to wheat buyers from the run up in world wheat prices and uncertainly over supplies.

In 2007, for example, Russia had one of its best crops ever to that point, harvesting just under 50.0 million metric tons (MMT) of wheat. Despite the steady increase in Russian production, a steep rise in the domestic price of wheat was remedied by a 10 percent export tax followed by a 40 percent export tax in January 2008, that continued until July of that year.

Drought and record high temperatures caused severe damage to the 2010 Russian harvest. While global wheat prices tripled, Russia enacted a complete ban on Russian wheat exports that lasted from Aug. 15, 2010, through July 1, 2011.

In early 2015, a depreciation in the Russian ruble led to attractive Black Sea wheat prices. Traders exported a record amount that season. To slow down exports, Russia once again applied an export duty. The tax was lifted in May but implemented again in July (the Russian trade calendar runs from July 1 to June 30).

When uncertainty over the impact of COVID-19 erupted in the spring of 2020 a Russian export quota of 7.0 MMT was applied to the April 1 to June 30, 2020, shipping window. By the end of April, that quota was exhausted and put a stop to all Russian wheat exports until July 1, 2020, the beginning of the new export calendar.

Which brings us to today. Russia has once again announced plans for an export quota that will run between Feb. 15 and June 30, 2021. The plan calls for a €25 per metric ton (MT) export tax on wheat ($30.40/MT) until a 17.5 MMT quota is met – at which point wheat exports will be stopped.

Aside from export taxes and outright bans, the Russian grain industry has also seen rail shipments slow the movement of wheat to export terminals, increased scrutiny on approval paperwork on exporting vessels and a slowdown in receiving phytosanitary certificates to as many as six days.

In fact, grain traders have told news services that they are already experiencing delays in obtaining export documents from Russia’s customs service.

Fortunately, the U.S. wheat industry offers reassurance in the fact that our doors are open for business 365 days per year. In our collective efforts to efficiently supply the widest range of the highest quality wheat in the world, we live up to our claim as the world’s most reliable supplier.

The U.S. government by law cannot block exports except in the cases of a declared national emergency. Further, export taxes are expressly forbidden by the U.S. Constitution.