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Tom Cannon, center, plays with one of his family's dogs on their farm in Blackwell, Oklahoma, as he discusses the day's plans with his son Jacob, left.

Tom Cannon, center, plays with one of his family’s dogs on their farm in Blackwell, Oklahoma, as he discusses the day’s plans with his son Jacob, left.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) recently spent a few days on Goodson Ranch, a Centennial farm in  northern Oklahoma. It is in the town of Blackwell, just outside of Ponca City. The purpose was to meet with Tom Cannon, a fourth-generation farmer who grows hard red winter (HRW) wheat. Cannon spends a lot of time and effort to improve the sustainability of his operation. He is one of the U.S. wheat farmers that will be featured in USW’s upcoming “Stories of Stewardship” series, a project that will highlight the work farmers are doing to improve soil health and production. Here we offer a preview – a snapshot, if you will – from Cannon’s farm.

Flurry of activity

A professional video crew wasn’t enough to slow things down on Tom Cannon’s Oklahoma farm. Early morning was dedicated to working cattle, afternoon set aside for seeding winter wheat. But as is the case with most family farms, a flurry of unplanned activity and chores book-ended the day’s official plans.

“Welcome to farming,” Cannon offered with a chuckle as he inspected a flat tire on his no-till drill. It was the same drill his daughter Raegan was about to use to plant winter wheat.

A historic farm

Goodson Ranch was started by Cannon’s ancestors in the 1890s. Today, Cannon and his family raise cattle and grow a variety of crops, including HRW, corn, milo and cotton. His care for the soil and his attention to the role sustainability plays in the quality and reliability of U.S. wheat make him a solid choice for U.S. Wheat Associates’ (USW) ongoing “Stories of Stewardship” project.

In the project, Cannon and other U.S. wheat farmers tell the stories of their farms and how they work to make sure the land they pass on to the next generation of farmers is, as Cannon put is, “in better shape than when I started farming it.”

Tom Cannon explains the workings of his direct-seeding no-till drill to USW Vice President of Communications Steve Mercer and a film crew from USW's creative agency on hand to interview Cannon about how he practices sustainability on the farm.

Tom Cannon explains the workings of his direct-seeding no-till drill to USW Vice President of Communications Steve Mercer and a film crew from USW’s creative agency on hand to interview Cannon about how he practices sustainability on the farm.

“We are standing on land where my family started farming all those years ago. Now, all of my kids are back on the farm. They are here with me and my wife Laurie. The hope is that someday they will be ready to continue what I, and those before me, have built,” Cannon said. He noted that the fifth generation of farmers – daughters Raegan, Rachel and Reece, along with son Jacob – are involved in the operation.

Producing quality wheat

Producing quality wheat is part of Cannon’s mission, as is meeting the needs of customers around the world who purchase U.S. wheat.

Tom Cannon prepares to work cattle with his daughters Raegen, right, and Rachel, left.

Tom Cannon prepares to work cattle with his daughters Raegen, right, and Rachel, left.

“My kids are going to eat the same things that I’m selling to other people,” he said. “So yes, I have a huge responsibility for what I grow for the general public. You know, a farmer feeds hundreds and hundreds of people. I am very cognizant of how I raise those crops.”

Cannon’s farm has produced crops for 25 years with zero tillage. He uses direct seeding. Soil health is the foundation of every decision his family makes.

Tom Cannon chats with Oklahoma Wheat Commission Executive Director Mike Schulte as he waits for the video crew to interview him for USW’s Stories of Stewardship series

Tom Cannon chats with Oklahoma Wheat Commission Executive Director Mike Schulte as he waits for the video crew to interview him for USW’s Stories of Stewardship series

Tom cannon and his daughter Raegan trade ideas as they get ready to work cattle.

Tom cannon and his daughter Raegan trade ideas.

Native grasses key

The Goodson Ranch features a lot of native grasses, which make grazing cattle a natural part of the operation. But the grasses also inspired Cannon, a self-described fan of biology.

“Watching how our native grasses work enabled me to see that there was maybe a better way to grow our crops,” he said. “I asked myself, ‘How do I start building my soil and how am I going to manage wheat from the roots up?’ To do that, we had to get more diversity and we had to get cattle on this property at least once a year. You not only improve the soils. You also improve the quality of those products that you are raising in those soils.”

What is sustainability?

Asked what sustainability means to him, Cannon had a simple answer.

“I just have to shut my eyes and think about what this place was like for the thousands of years before we were here,” he replied. “What was it like then? Because it was absolutely sustainable.”

 

 

 

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U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) continued a tradition of promoting the value of U.S. agricultural products together with other USDA Foreign Agricultural Service cooperator organizations by co-hosting the annual U.S. Agricultural Cooperators Conference Sept. 12 to 14, 2023, in Da Nang, Vietnam. This conference is designed as a value-added service for Southeast Asian buyers served by USW, and co-hosts U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC).

USW Regional Vice President Joe Sowers on a panel at the 2023 U.S. Agricultural Cooperators Conference

USW Regional Vice President Joe Sowers participated in a panel discussion of U.S. cooperator leaders at the 2023 U.S. Agricultural Cooperators Conference.

“Our collaboration with these organizations on conferences in South and Southeast Asia not only increases opportunities to connect with our milling customers in the region, but also with grain trade and other industry representatives,” said Regional Vice President Joe Sowers who represented USW and the conference. “Many flour millers in the region also have feed milling operations, so this conference leverages the investments of all three host organizations to educate and increase positive contact with regional stakeholders.”

Building Bridges, Sharing Knowledge

Titled “Globalization 2.0: Building Bridges for Food Security, Sustainability, and Innovation,” the conference in Da Nang covered the global challenges identified in its name and, according to USGC, emphasized “the need to build bridges that facilitate collaboration, sharing knowledge, and acting on common issues.”

“It is very important that customers hear the message that U.S. farmers are producing safe, reliable and abundant supplies of wheat, feed grains and oilseeds,” Sowers said. “Vietnam, for example, is a quickly growing market with an exploding middle class eager to consume more and better-quality wheat-based foods.”

Vietnam’s annual milling wheat imports are more than 2 million metric tons and growing at a similar rate in the South and Southeast region.

Visit the USGC website for more information about the 2023 Southeast Asia U.S. Agricultural Cooperators Conference.

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A business card to describe the jobs Art Schultheis fills in a typical year would be too big for any pocket.

“I drive a tractor and harvest with a combine – all the things people think a farmer does,” explained Schultheis, a fifth-generation farmer from Colton, Washington. “But behind the scenes I’m also a mechanic, I’m a bookkeeper, and, like most farmers, I have a whole long list of other jobs.”

Planning Ahead

On a late August afternoon, in a wheat field a dozen or so miles north of his home, Schultheis greeted a film crew (photo above) with a glance to the sky and a shrug. A soft rain had begun to fall, bringing that day’s harvest to a reluctant halt.

“I am not going to even try to predict it,” he announced to the film crew, while taking another glance upward. “But I think we may as well plan to get back at it tomorrow.”

Yet another job for Schultheis: planning strategist.

The film crew was commissioned by U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), which is collecting “Stories of Stewardship” from wheat farmers across the country to highlight their efforts to produce high-quality crop using sustainable practices.

In August, the 61-year-old Schultheis was harvesting his 40th wheat crop. His diversified operation typically grows hard red winter (HRW), soft white winter (SRW), hard red spring (HRS), and hard white spring wheat. The farm has also produced barley, garbanzo beans, lentils, Kentucky bluegrass seed, oats, canola, and alfalfa. There are also 10 beef cows to take care of.

Photo shows two men, farmers, standing next to each other and looking to the left side of the photo; in the background there is a tractor pulling a wagon through a golden wheat field.

Colton, Washington, farmers Art Schultheis, right, and his son Kyle Schultheis.

An Eye to the Future

Schultheis took over Diamond S Farms from his father more than three decades ago. With an eye to the future, his son Kyle has returned to the farm and is being mentored to one day take over all his father’s jobs. Bringing Kyle into the mix is part of the family’s approach to sustainability.

“To me, there are three parts to sustainability,” Schultheis explained. “Number one is I want to leave the land in better shape than when I started farming. Number two is my farm must be profitable. If you are not profitable, you are not sustainable. Number three is that you need a succession plan for your farm to continue to operate through generations.”

As the film crew set up the next morning to capture his story, Schultheis pointed out that sustainability is second nature to him and all other farmers.

“We have always cared for the land, but now we have tools that we never had decades ago,” he said. “We can do things today that we could not do in the past, and the soil keeps producing at higher and higher levels. One of my hopes for Kyle is that when I’m gone, he can stand here and say he learned things from me and makes the land even better than it will be once I call it quits.”

USW’s Stories of Stewardship series will be available for all to see and explore. It is expected to be of special interest to customers of U.S. wheat around the world.

Responsible as Possible

“I think consumers here in the United States and across the world are asking questions about where their food comes from,” said Schultheis. “On our farm, we do not raise commodities, we are raising food. And we need to be as responsible as possible because we know the end-consumer is making that connection between where food comes from and how it is produced. To be honest, it makes my job a lot more fun.”

And by his “job,” Schultheis means every single one of them.

 

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Whitman County in eastern Washington State is the most productive wheat-producing county in the United States. There, near the town of St. John in “The Palouse,” the Bailey family has grown winter and spring soft white and club wheat and barley for three generations.

Erin Bailey and her father Mark Bailey working on equipment on their farm in eastern Washington state as part of the Stories of Stewardship campaign.

Erin Bailey and Mark Bailey farm with Mark’s brother Gary in eastern Washington’s Palouse country. “It is my responsibility to [farm] sustainably to provide for the next generations of our family,” Erin said.

Gary Bailey (above with a team of wheat buyers from Myanmar and Malaysia) farms with his brother Mark Bailey and Mark’s daughter Erin. He serves on the Washington Grain Commission and represents his state as a Director of U.S. Wheat Associates. He also serves on Washington State University’s Land Legacy Council.

“Whitman County has deep, fertile soils and adequate rainfall to produce a great dryland wheat crop,” Gary said. “And we want to keep it around for the next generation. So, we are doing whatever we can to maintain that soil base and, in fact, to improve it.”

Reducing Environmental Impact

According to the Washington Grain Commission, over many generations, wheat farmers in the state have embraced stewardship and successfully reduced their environmental footprint while remaining highly productive. The adoption of no-tillage and reduced tillage equipment and systems has helped them dramatically reduce soil erosion. Precision technology has helped reduce the volume of crop protection inputs needed to ensure wholesome and productive crops.

“Protecting our farmland is one of the major challenges we face,” said Mark Bailey. “So we have to continually change the ways we grow wheat and other crops and do the best job we can to keep those resources for the next generation and the next.”

Learn More

Gary, Mark, and Erin Bailey shared more about preserving their land and growing safe, wholesome wheat for their family and the world in the following video story produced in 2020.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is reaching out to wheat farmers across the United States to learn how they strive to improve their land and manage resources. Each is committed to adapting to the many challenges they face and making choices that are best for the environment, their individual farms, and their customers. We are proud to share their “Stories of Stewardship.”

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As a 5th generation farmer and father of three working alongside his own father and brother, Justin Knopf (above) recognizes his responsibility as a steward of the land for the next generation both on and off the farm. On the farm in central Kansas near the town of Gypsum, the Knopf family grows hard red winter (HRW) wheat, alfalfa, grain sorghum, soybeans, and corn on the same land the family originally homesteaded in the 1860’s.

Justin is passionate about being involved in the industry and says outreach is an important part of agricultural sustainability.

“What I do impacts consumers, so it is important to take time and energy to be transparent with them and share the bigger story of what is happening in our landscape,” he says. “I have been given a gift to be able to work with the land and that comes with responsibility.”

Cover Crops

Justin is always learning new farm management skills and how he can apply the latest technology. After attending a no-tillage farming conference, he learned that an evolving no-till system includes having a crop always growing in the soil. After experimenting with cover crops in his rotation, the results show this boosted biological diversity in his soil and at times allowed him to reduce the use of weed, disease, or insect control products where cover crops are grown.

Improving the Soil

Quality soils are crucial for crops to reach their full potential, but abuse can quickly lead to nutrient loss, erosion, and reduced productivity. Farmers on the Plains witnessed the cost of over-plowing their soil in the Dust Bowl of the 1930s and since then have fought hard to protect their most precious resource.

The Knopf family has invested in soil health through cover crops, no-till farming, and crop rotations. The changes have improved soil health. The soil is better able to retain moisture and is more fertile, which helped reduce inputs like fertilizer and fuel and increased yields. But these changes did not happen easily or overnight. Adding these new management practices required a financial investment, continued education and dedication from Justin and his family.

Panaramic image of the Knopf family farm in central Kansas including a farm stead, green fields and ripe wheat field in the background on a cloudy day.

The Knopf family grows hard red winter wheat, alfalfa, grain sorghum, soybeans, and corn on the same central Kansas land the family homesteaded in the 1860’s. Photo courtesy of Kansas Wheat.

Keeping the Soil

There is no irrigation or tillage on the entire Knopf family farm. Since the family transitioned to no-till farming in the early 2000s, Justin says he has seen a physical change in their soil. The soil is darker, richer and has more organic matter than before. These rejuvenated soils are more productive and resilient, making it easier to grow crops with fewer inputs and less rain (something that has been even more important given the recent long drought in the region), and are less likely to erode.

“The land will go on for much longer than I will be here, and it’s a much bigger story outside of myself,” Knopf says. “So I feel a responsibility to share that bigger story of what is happening with other people as a part of our stewardship.”

Knopf participated in the U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) film “Wholesome: The Journey of U.S. Wheat” discussing the care he takes in his wheat crop with sustainable practices.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is reaching out to wheat farmers across the United States to learn how they strive to improve their land and manage resources. Each is committed to adapting to the many challenges they face and making choices that are best for the environment, their individual farms, and their customers. We are proud to share their “Stories of Stewardship.”

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Reprinted with Permission from the University of Minnesota.

Agriculture is seen as both a key cause of the global biodiversity crisis and a principal means of addressing it. Though some advocates are calling for farmers to return to heirloom varieties of crops as a way for the agriculture industry to address the growing challenges posed by climate change, new research from the University of Minnesota suggests that the solution lies primarily in modern scientifically-bred crop varieties, which have led to an increase in biodiverse cropping practices and significantly higher wheat yields in the U.S.

In a paper recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from the University’s GEMS Informatics Center, Department of Applied Economics, and the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute assembled area data and the associated genetic pedigrees for the 1,353 commercial wheat varieties that made up most of the U.S. crop from 1919 to 2019. They factored in phylogenetic breadth when estimating both the spatial and temporal diversity of commercial wheat varieties found in fields, and tracked how that breadth changed over time across the country.

“Many perceive that science has led to cropping systems that are less biodiverse. We set out to see if that was indeed the case using newly developed, long-run data for a scientifically intensive cropping landscape,” said Philip Pardey, a professor in the Department of Applied Economics.

The researchers found:

  • The increasingly intensive use of scientifically-selected crop varieties has led to more, not less, biodiverse cropping practices, at least regarding biodiversity in the U.S. wheat crop.
  • This substantial increase in varietal diversity over the past century has been achieved in tandem with a fourfold increase in U.S. average wheat yields.

Success Story of Modern Agriculture

“The increasing number of locally adapted varieties and faster turnover of newer varieties grown by wheat farmers in the U.S. demonstrated a success story of modern agriculture achieved by farmers and breeders,” said lead author Yuan Chai, a researcher at GEMS Informatics Center.

“The push for farmers en masse to return to heirloom varieties or landraces is not a sustainable solution. Innovation in scientifically bred varieties is enabling us to feed more people on less land, fertilizer and water while improving overall crop diversity,” said Kevin Silverstein, scientific lead at the Supercomputing Institute.

The Wheat Genetics Resource Center at Kansas State University

The internationally recognized Wheat Genetics Resource Center is located at Kansas State University, that collects, conserves, and utilizes germplasm in crop improvement for sustainable production by broadening the crop genetic base.

Agriculture is being asked to address an increasingly large number of sustainable development challenges. In addition to the long-standing role of crop productivity improvement to alleviate poverty and improve food security, ever-more sustainable cropping systems are required to address the growing challenges posed by climate change, land and water scarcity, and new pest and disease threats.

Biodiversity, Breeding Innovation Needed

However, public investment in crop breeding research is now on the decline in the U.S., and falls chronically short in many other countries, especially lower-income countries. Building meaningful climate and pest resilience into the world’s food crops in ways that also achieve global food security goals requires doubling down on crop improvement research that enhances not undermines crop biodiversity.

Some of the analytic tools developed by the GEMS Informatics Center to examine this research are being further developed to enable other investigations of the changing crop diversity landscape in other crops and other countries.

This work was undertaken with primary support from the GEMS Informatics Center with funding from MnDRIVE, a partnership between the University of Minnesota and the State of Minnesota, and additional support from the International Science and Technology Practice and Policy Center and the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute. Partial support was also received from the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station.

Read more about the dedicated scientists producing new, improved wheat varieties:

Wheat Breeding Builds on Historic Processes and Genetic Traits

Public Wheat Breeding Programs Serving Southern and Central Plains Farmers

Public Wheat Breeding Serving Northern Plains Farmers

Public Wheat Breeding Serving Soft Red Winter Wheat Farmers

Public Wheat Breeding Serving West Coast Farmers

AgriPro and Westbred Apply Advanced Research in Wheat Breeding Programs

 

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U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is pleased to help share the positive stories about how U.S. farmers, ranchers and fisheries are producing excellent quality, delicious food for the world in highly sustainable ways.

In fact, U.S. wheat farm families are featured in several video stories created by USDA and U.S. trade associations as part of a “DelicioUS!” promotion on YouTube, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Common Themes, Shared Values

These high-quality videos illustrate the reality of U.S. agriculture using an approach that shows the diversity and uniqueness of agriculture and cultures in each region of the country. At the same time, the stories capture common themes shared by the multi-generational family operations including their commitment to sustainability, innovation, producing delicious food, and community.

These are values shared by the U.S. wheat farmers USW represents in overseas markets.

Scenes from the Volk family farm in North Dakota and Peters family operation in Oklahoma are included in the “Midwest” program that features the people, crops and food grown in the heartland of the United States.

The images of “amber waves of grain” from Padget Ranches in Oregon and the Bailey family farm in Washington open the video about food production in the “West.”

Sustainable Source of Wheat for the World

U.S. wheat farmers work every day to contribute to a sustainable future in agriculture. Sustainability is reflected in agronomic practices, research and development, and transportation methods, all of which contribute to making the United States a sustainable source of wheat for export. They are proud to represent U.S. agriculture and help share delicious food with other families across the planet.

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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

https://vimeo.com/578611568

 

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USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Administrator Daniel Whitley recently returned from leading a U.S. trade mission to the Philippines. The mission’s objective was to help foster stronger ties and build economic partnerships between the United States and the Philippines. The mission included representatives from 29 U.S. agribusinesses and farm organizations and 10 state departments of agriculture who are interested in exploring export opportunities in the Philippines.

Charlie Vogel, Executive Director of the Minnesota Wheat Research & Promotion Council, Red Lake Fall, Minn., shared his experience on the trade mission that included meetings with U.S. wheat customers in the Philippines.

People Make It A Small World

“Participating in the trade mission, I was reminded how big this world physically is and the miracle of modern transportation. However, from a human perspective, it is a small world,” Vogel said. “The concerns about geopolitics, world wheat supplies, market volatility, and weather were the exact same questions domestic buyers ask me about hard red spring [HRS] wheat. People are people the world over.

“A key takeaway from this trade mission is the value U.S. wheat farmers receive from the continued efforts of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and its staff, who set up meetings, tours, and dinners with millers, bakers and associations. Some themes became apparent. USW staff has developed deep and genuine relationships with these HRS buyers and end users. They provide technical skills and resources to assist these partners in maximizing use, expanding markets and product lines, and improving business. The consistent quality of HRS provided by U.S. growers, including from Minnesota, is essential to the value proposition USW utilizes. In the face of a rising U.S. dollar and uncertain geopolitics, these relationships are critical to continued success.”

Meeting Wheat Customers

USW Country Director Joe Bippert and the USW Manila team arranged a tour and meeting with Gardenia Bakery, a large commercial bread and wheat food company in Manila, for Vogel. In addition, Vogel and Bippert met with leaders of the Filipino Chinese Bakery Association.

Vogel’s photo at the top of this page is from a visit to the flagship store of Eng Bee Tin, an over 90-year-old landmark in the heart of the oldest Chinatown in the world. Eng Bee Tin produces hopia, a popular snack in the Philippines.

“We met wonderful, hospitable and genuine people in Manila, and I was happy to let them know how much our wheat growers in Minnesota and across the country appreciate their support for our products,” Vogel said.

Customer meeting during Philippines trade mission

Valued Customers. (L-R) Charlie Vogel and Joe Bippert met with Royce Gerik Chua, Eng Bee Tin, Jerry Midel, Philippine Society of Baking, and Henry Ah, Liberty Food Mart, during the FAS trade mission to the Philippines in July 2022.

World’s Most Reliable

USW and its legacy organizations have maintained an office in the Philippines for almost 60 years. Flour millers in the Philippines rely on U.S. HRS, soft white and hard red winter milling wheat to meet the growing demand for wheat foods in the island nation. Administrator Whitley also noted that the Philippines is the eighth-largest market for U.S. agricultural and food products, with even more potential. There is a reason for that, he said.

“Everywhere I go, trading partners are looking for a reliable supplier. And they view American agriculture to be the most reliable in the world,” Whitley said. “That, along with our outstanding qualities and the fact that we are embracing the challenge to produce commodities that are more sustainable.”

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Chefs, food marketers, millers and other wheat industry representatives came together in Napa, California, on April 11 to 14 for the Wheat Foods Council “Chef Workshop” and first “Future of Food Forum.” This seminar was insightful and provided a chance to advocate wheat foods to key people in the U.S. food industry.

At the Chef Workshop, chefs from major fast-food chains, restaurants from around the country, and other food service businesses got to learn more about ingredients, create food from other cultures, and collaborate with others. The Wheat Foods Council chose these chefs to participate in the Chef Workshop because of their influence within their companies. The Culinary Institute of America’s (CIA) Copia campus provided state-of-the-art kitchens, a wide array of spices and ingredients, and professional chefs with real world experiences to help facilitate instruction.

Cindy Falk, Kansas Wheat Nutrition Educator, and event attendee, said “The talented chefs used a variety of wheat-based ingredients, various seasonings and cooking techniques to create pleasing flavor combinations and elegant plates that looked like works of art.”

Future of Food

On April 14, the Wheat Foods Council held its Future of Food Forum. This included a panel discussion with various professionals including farmers, millers, food marketers, food packaging experts, and one of the professional chefs from CIA.

Barb Stuckey from Mattson shared her insights on the latest food trends and explained how food goes from development and research to shelves. Tim York from the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement explained food safety and business transparency. Hayden Wands from Grupo Bimbo explained how COVID, labor shortages and geopolitical disputes have been putting mills in tough situations and how it might impact consumers down the line. Master Chef Victor Gielisse of the CIA shared about building a quality work environment. He further explained the CIA’s “Plant-Forward” initiative.

Higher Cost of Production

Finally, Ron Suppes, farmer from Dighton, Kan., a board member for the Kansas Wheat Commission [and 2007/08 Chairman of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW)] spoke about his farm. He showed the group a price comparison of fertilizer from a few months prior and prices today. This visual really made the point that … the input price increase is not linear, and costs of farming are dramatically higher. He advocated for the work researchers are doing on wheat to help farmers find solutions and ways to use fewer inputs but still achieve high quality wheat.

Sustainability

A common theme throughout both the Chef Workshop and Future of Food Forum was sustainability, from farming, milling, food packaging and cooking. Everyone along the supply lines is working hard to make sure society is getting safe, quality food without compromising the land. The discussion with panelists examined how generations viewed sustainability and how they relate to trends. Everyone provided great input on what is important in their respective part of the food supply chain regarding sustainability, and it helped everyone understand what each other’s role involves.

The event was an excellent opportunity for everyone to gather and learn about food while connecting with others in different industries. The goal for events such as these is to help close the gap between consumers and producers.

USW shared these excerpts from Mary Marsh’s post in Kansas Wheat’s “Wheat Scoop” blog to help inform overseas milling and baking customers about Wheat Foods Council efforts to increase wheat food consumption in the United States and ideas that may be useful in other countries.