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Flour milling companies from nine European countries made up a delegation that visited Washington, D.C. Sept. 24-28 to learn about the 2023 U.S. wheat crop and developments involving global markets, trade policy and emerging technologies.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) hosted the team, providing a series of presentations by USW staff and representatives of partner organizations.

Ian Flagg, USW Regional Vice President for European, Middle Eastern and North African Regions, right, greets a member of the delegation of European flour millers during meetings in Washington, D.C.

USW’s Ian Flagg, right, greets members of the European flour millers delegation and USW partner organizations during meetings in Washington, D.C.

Sharing Information

“Our efforts to increase U.S. wheat market share in Europe includes sharing information to major and larger mid-size mills and traders, many who are interested in hard red spring (HRS) and durum wheat,” said Ian Flagg, USW Regional Vice President for European, Middle Eastern and North African Regions. “Strategically, it’s important to work with agencies, milling associations and traders and discuss issues that are limiting European market access. At the same time, it’s a chance to talk about U.S. wheat and remind them about the advantages it offers milling companies and end-users.”

Italy, France, Germany, Poland, Slovenia, Lithuania, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Belgium were represented on the delegation. The visit is an initiative of the European Flour Millers Association that involves exploring different markets each year.

U.S. Durum, HRS Customers

Flagg welcomed its members to Washington and gave a broad overview of the U.S. wheat industry. About 70% of U.S. durum exports go to the EU, with Italy taking a large portion of that for pasta production, Flagg noted, adding that European countries import HRS from the U.S. mostly to blend with other wheat.

USW’s data shows that U.S. market share in the EU tends to vary from year to year, and in the past few years has swung from 17% to 33% for high protein milling wheat (mostly HRS) and from 18% to 28% for durum.

Crop Quality, Trade Policy Updates

Jim Peterson, Policy and Marketing Director for the North Dakota Wheat Commission, gave the delegation a U.S. wheat crop quality update. Other presenters included Ryan Caffery of CHS, who offered insights into both the opportunities and constraints involving the European market.

USW Vice President of Trade Policy Dalton Henry spoke about technology and government actions that affect wheat trade.

“It was great to talk with this group because, from a policy standpoint, there are many areas where we work together – namely on food safety and production technologies,” said Henry. “Having dialogue on those topics is critical, especially as new technologies come to market or regulations are being drafted as it gives us the best chance to prevent trade disruptions in the future.”

The team of flour millers representing nine European countries poses for a group photo during its visit to Washington, D.C.

Representatives of flour millers from nine European countries pose for a group photo during its visit to Washington, D.C.

Team Effort

USDA, the North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA), the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and the North American Millers’ Association (NAMA) each participated by in sharing related information about opportunities and issues they face.  

USW Vice President of Trade Policy Dalton Henry spoke about technology and government actions that affect wheat trade.

USW Vice President of Trade Policy Dalton Henry spoke about technology and government actions that affect wheat trade.

Along with Canada, competitors for U.S. HRS are high-protein Russian and Kazakh spring wheat, though export volumes are relatively small. Ukraine is another large supplier of wheat to the EU but is not considered a competitor for HRS due to its low and medium quality. Competitors for U.S. durum wheat are Canada, Russian, Kazakh, Australian and Mexico.

Tour of Facilities

Aside from meetings and presentations, USW offered the EU team a look at some U.S. milling facilities and a wholesale bakery. It toured Miller Milling in Westchester, Virginia, which produces a variety of durum and hard wheat products. It also services an adjacent pasta manufacturing facility. The visit to Uptown Bakers featured a look at its 40,000 square foot facility just outside of D.C. Uptown has more than 500 restaurants, hotels, and caterers as clients.

The team was also able to explore Chesapeake Farms, which is owned by Corteva Agriscience. The 3,300 acres of Chesapeake Farms are devoted to the development, evaluation, and demonstration of advanced agricultural practices.

 

 

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Recent news and highlights from around the U.S. wheat industry.

Speaking of Wheat

“The Russian naval blockade of Ukrainian ports has already shredded global chains of food supply. Adding insult to injury, Russia steals Ukrainian grain and bombs Ukrainian granaries. Russia is essentially playing hunger games with the world by keeping the naval blockade of Ukrainian ports with one hand and shifting the blame for it on Ukraine with the other hand.” –Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. Read more here.

Best Wishes to Director of Communications Amanda Spoo

All of us at U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and across the U.S. wheat industry want to thank Amanda Spoo (above) for her work on behalf of wheat farmers over more than 7 years on the USW Communications Team. Among the many highlights of her time with USW, Amanda managed a major overhaul of www.uswheat.org and built USW’s social media into a highly effective channel to overseas customers and friends at home. More importantly, she has been a respected colleague who made our work more fun. Vice President of Communications Steve Mercer and all Amanda’s colleagues wish her well as she moves on to new opportunities back in her eastern Oregon home.

Director of Communications Position Open

USW has an opening for a Director of Communications in a hybrid work environment based in its Arlington, Virginia, Headquarters Office. The Director of Communications reports to the Vice President of Communications and helps USW fulfill its mission by working collaboratively to plan and implement producer-focused and market development communications across a range of media; by managing all digital communication touchpoints, including content creation, deployment across the website, social media, email marketing, and other media channels, and performance analysis; and other critical domestic and international communications activities. The job description and application process are posted here.

USDA/FAS Welcomes New Foreign Service Officers

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Secretary Dr. Jewel Bronaugh recently administered the oath of office to 14 USDA employees who will serve American agriculture internationally as members of the Foreign Service. The diplomats begin their careers as agricultural attachés at U.S. embassies and diplomatic missions on five continents, where they will monitor and report on global agricultural production and trade, identify export opportunities, enhance food security and support U.S. foreign policy objectives. Read more here.

Middle East, North Africa Trade Team in the U.S.

Matthew Weaver of Capital Press reported trade team of flour millers from Morocco, Algeria, Egypt and Oman began their tour of the U.S. last week in Idaho. “These are young flour millers, a young generation (representing) their family businesses,” said Tarik Gahi, assistant technical director for U.S. Wheat Associates in the Middle East and North Africa region, based in Casablanca, Morocco. “They are 22, 24, 25 years old, just out of the university and they are supposed to take the lead in the coming years.” The tour will allow the millers to become familiar with U.S. wheat classes, marketing and the entire wheat system compared to wheat from other origins, Gahi said. Read more here.

2022 Hard Spring Wheat and Durum Tour

The annual Wheat Quality Council Hard Spring Wheat Tour is scheduled for July 25 to 28, 2022. The tour will provide the first production estimate for the 2022 U.S. hard red spring and durum crops. Tour information and registration are posted here. Customers can follow the tour in real-time by following #wheattour22 on Twitter and keep up to date on the entire U.S. wheat harvest with the weekly USW Harvest Report.

Subscribe to USW Reports

USW publishes various reports and content available to subscribe to, including a bi-weekly newsletter highlighting recent Wheat Letter blog posts and wheat industry news, the weekly Price Report, and the weekly Harvest Report (available May to October). Subscribe here.

Follow USW Online

Visit our Facebook page for the latest updates, photos, and discussions of what is going on in the world of wheat. Also, find breaking news on Twitter, video stories on Vimeo, and more on LinkedIn.

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By Michael Anderson, USW Assistant Director, USW West Coast Office

“Everywhere the grain stood ripe and the hot afternoon was full of the smell of the ripe wheat, like the smell of bread baking in an oven. The breath of the wheat and the sweet clover passed him like a pleasant thing in a dream.” – Willa Cather, O Pioneers!

Heading east out of Portland, Ore., the landscape changes quickly. From the large city you pass through a tapestry of green forest with snow-capped peaks in the distance. Following the Columbia River, the mountains gradually become smaller until opening onto vast open hills carpeted by wheat fields. It is an impressive drive and vastly different from where you started.

For U.S. wheat overseas customers visiting the U.S. Pacific Northwest states with a trade delegation, this is often the journey they take as they travel out to see for themselves where the wheat they purchase is grown and to meet the people who grow it. Every year, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and its state wheat commission member organizations host several trade delegations to facilitate these important connections. A crucial link that tightens the customer relationship, made possible by the long distances traveled, is to connect the customer with the source of their product in the company of the people who work hard to grow it.

Trade teams that visit the United States are often able to observe grain grading and inspection by the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS). Visits can include interaction with research institutions to see how farmers and their state wheat commissions work closely with breeders to improve wheat varieties. Teams are often able to see the infrastructure that efficiently moves U.S. wheat from the farms to export facilities.

USW led five representatives of the Taipei Bakers Association and three officials from Taiwan’s Department of Public Health on a trade team to Oregon in late April 2019.

Customer Relations

Many U.S. wheat farmers and wheat commissions have made lasting connections with the customers they meet at part of trade delegations to and from the United States. Some have even had the opportunity to host customers they have met overseas here in the United States on their farms. In an interview with KGNC Radio in Amarillo, Tex., Ken Davis, a USW director and a wheat farmer from Grandview, Tex., talked about his experience traveling with USW. On a 2018 visit to Nigeria, Davis, who represents the Texas Wheat Producers Board, met with a team of flour millers and extended an invitation for them to visit his farm. A year later, he picked them up at the airport in Dallas and shuttled them to his farm. For the first time they got to see a wheat field and see the work that goes into growing the product that is crucial to their own livelihood. In the interview, Davis noted that “it is customer relations” that make the difference. That is a refrain I have personally heard often in my time with USW.

This trade team of Chilean flour millers that visited Oklahoma in June 2017 helped increase understanding of U.S. hard red winter wheat quality and how farmers do everything they can to produce the best quality crop.

Michael Peters, a wheat farmer from Okarche, Okla., and the 2020/21 USW Secretary Treasurer-elect representing the Oklahoma Wheat Commission, has his own experience to share. Last summer, at the USW Mexico Wheat Trade Conference, Peters saw a familiar face, César Enríquez, Director of Business Development for Grupo La Moderna in Toluca, Mexico. Enríquez extended an invitation for Peters to attend the opening of their new shuttle train facility. Later that fall, and to his surprise, Peters was there.

U.S. wheat farmers will continue to pursue a higher quality, wholesome and sustainable wheat crop by redefining the state of excellence every growing season. The U.S. wheat export supply system will continue placing an abundant supply of wheat for export, as it has continued to do during the COVID-19 pandemic. USW and its state commission members will also continue working to connect these farmers and the export system to customers around the world, both on their visits to the United States and abroad.


Read other blog posts in this series:
Research and Plant Breeding
Grain Handlers
Exporters, Inspectors and USW Overseas Offices

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By Michael Anderson, USW Assistant Director, West Coast Office

Professional millers and bakers know that the appearance and taste of every product depends on the specific characteristics imparted by its flour ingredient. And those characteristics are deeply rooted in the ancient craft of plant breeding.

[Plant breeding is an ancient craft.] As far back as 10,000 years, farmers looked for traits that helped them grow more and better food. Egypt became the breadbasket of ancient Rome as its farmers adopted a type of wheat from the “fertile crescent” in modern Iraq to plant along the Nile River. Over time, the Egyptians found ways to grow a grain that was sturdy enough to transport long distances and stand up against pests. The Egyptian wheat traded with the Romans may not be what we are used to today, but the process for how it was grown to meet the needs of the consumer is by no means ancient history.

Today, the Wheat Genetics Resource Center at the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center houses more than 30,000 wheat varieties from around the world that are descendants of ancient varieties. Kansas Wheat Vice President of Research and Operations Aaron Harries likened the collection to a “treasure hunt,” offering the opportunity to find the next innovation derived in part from each specimen. Researchers and breeders here, and at other programs across the United States, play an important role in the relationship U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) builds with its customers. By listening to both farmer and customer feedback, they work on developing high-yielding, disease resistant wheat seed with excellent milling, baking and processing qualities.

Wheat Genetics Resource Center at the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center in Manhattan, Kan. Photo courtesy of the Kansas Wheat Commission.

Dr. Senay Simsek is a cereal chemist and professor at North Dakota State University and says that the personal connections that she has made on fifteen trips with USW to four different continents is crucial to her work. As an expert on hard red spring (HRS) wheat, Simsek says that when she prepares to meet overseas customers, she familiarizes herself with the types of wheat flour products they make, what the other ingredients are and what countries they buy wheat from. Being familiar with a market is important to understanding the unique needs of the customer. “Sophisticated” was the word she uses to describe customer needs and knowledge, emphasizing how important the technical process of using the right wheat for a specific product can be.

Dr. Senay Simsek joins USW staff to meet with U.S. wheat customers in Indonesia in 2019.

Dr. Senay Simsek joins USW staff to meet with U.S. wheat customers in Malaysia in 2019.

Each year, USW hosts several trade delegations that are traveling to the United States to learn firsthand about the U.S. wheat supply chain system. The delegations visit research institutes like the USDA Western Wheat Quality Lab at Washington State University in Pullman, Wash. Its mission in part is to “conduct cooperative investigations with breeders to evaluate the milling and baking quality characteristics of wheat selections,” and to “conduct basic research into the biochemical and genetic basis of wheat quality in order to better understand the fundamental nature of end-use functionality.” The director of the lab, Dr. Craig Morris, welcomes many of the USW delegations to his lab each year and emphasizes the unique partnership that the lab, as part of the USDA Agricultural Research Service, has within the industry, among other researchers and with state wheat commissions.

A USW Japanese trade delegation visits the USDA Western Wheat Quality Lab.

In September 2019, I had the opportunity to visit Washington State University with a trade delegation from Southeast Asia. We met with Dr. Michael Pumphrey, a spring wheat breeder, who walked us through the steps of the wheat breeding process. We watched as he cross-pollinated single wheat plants, a process that requires careful, precise techniques.

In his 27 years with USW, Steve Wirsching, Vice President and West Coast Office Director, based in Portland, Ore., has hosted many trade delegations and has also led many Wheat Quality Improvement Teams of wheat breeders to visit customers overseas. When asked why USW continues to put an emphasis on facilitating the relationships between customers and wheat researchers and breeders, he said, “It is important to listen to our customers and seek feedback on the quality characteristics they need. It is part of the U.S. Wheat Associates mission, to enhance wheat’s value for our customers.”

2017 Wheat Quality Improvement team in Thailand. Read more about this activity.

2018 Wheat Quality Improvement Team in Latin America. Read more about this activity.

According to www.innovature.com, the innovation and evolving breeding methods in agriculture and food, and a deep understanding of DNA, today helps scientists like Dr. Simsek and Dr. Pumphrey make even more precise genetic changes to wheat and other plants. Their work is needed more than ever to meet some of society’s most urgent and pressing challenges including climate change, sustainability, hunger and improved health and wellness.


Read other blog posts in this series:
Farmers and State Wheat Commissions
Grain Handlers
Exporters, Inspectors and USW Overseas Offices

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Behind the world’s most reliable supply of wheat are the world’s most dependable people. Those people, from U.S. Wheat Associates staff to the state wheat commissions and U.S. wheat farm families to the many hands along the U.S. supply chain, represent an industry that is always changing. But many of the overseas customers USW works with overseas can also say the same. Despite the different roles or distances between us, all of the people in our story share an unspoken connection, not only through U.S. wheat but through our shared values of growth, hard work and family.

These connections are a part of our story.


RANDY SUESS
Retired Washington Wheat Farmer, 2011/12 USW Chairman

“I had the opportunity of a lifetime to travel with USW to many countries and visit with buyers, millers and bakers. My thanks to those who made us feel so welcome. The millers are most gracious hosts and always showed up in large numbers at USW events. I was very proud to attend the 50th anniversary of U.S. wheat market development organizations in the Philippines. After one event, Norman Uy and his family honored me by hosting dinner. His son Stevie visited my farm the following year and is now taking over the mill.”

STEVIE UY
AVP & SBU Head, Flour Division, RFM Corporation, Republic of the Philippines

“RFM Corporation pioneered the regional flour milling industry in 1958. Today, it is one of the biggest food and beverage companies in the Philippines. I am in the 4th generation managing part of the company. I have been to the United States with USW twice. In Washington, Randy Suess took us to a plateau overlooking fields of golden soft white wheat in every direction. U.S. farmers are all proud of their production and heritage. These visits helped me appreciate where our raw materials come from and how much work and risk the farmer must take every year.”

 

DON SCHIEBER
Oklahoma Wheat Farmer, 2010/11 USW Chairman

“In 2014 a USW trade team visited my farm. I had a great time giving the team members rides in my combine. Anna-Mart Rust with Pioneer Foods in South Africa really enjoyed it and we talked about the differences between our lives. This memorable experience came full circle in September 2018 when I met Anna-Mart again, this time in South Africa on a USW Board Team visit and she took me to a farm equipment dealer and farm show, and hosted me in her home. That kind of connection is so important.”

ANNA-MART RUST
Procurement Manager, Pioneer Foods, South Africa

“It was wonderful to reconnect with Don Schieber when Pioneer Foods hosted a USW group in 2018 in South Africa. I took Don to a John Deere retailer, to a big agricultural show and to our Stellenbosch Winelands. This day is memorable as I could show Don how farmers and other South Africans live compared with American farmers, as he did when I visited his farm in 2014. We shared our differences but we found we had the same goal — to produce the best wheat and food possible!”

Discover more stories about the connection between U.S. wheat farmers and their customers.

 

View video on Vimeo.

 

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Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), its grain trade, flour millers and wheat food processors have developed a strong trust in the quality and consistency of U.S. wheat and the entire U.S. wheat supply system. It is a trust that has weathered many challenges, including concerns about U.S. wheat competitiveness under the multilateral CPTPP agreement. Working together, however, the partners played important parts in successful negotiations of the U.S.-Japan trade agreement that on Jan. 1, 2020, put effective U.S. wheat import tariffs back on equal footing with Canadian and Australian wheat.

To commemorate the successful conclusion of the trade negotiations, and to renew its connection with the U.S. wheat industry, MAFF recently brought a team of officials to Portland, Ore., to meet with state wheat commissions and the grain trade. Mr. Yusaku Hirakata, Director-General for Crop Production, in MAFF’s Crop Production Bureau headed the delegation. The Director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture Alexis Taylor, the Oregon Wheat Commission, Washington Grain Commission, Wheat Marketing Center and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) welcomed the delegation at a reception held at the Wheat Marketing Center Jan. 23, 2020.

Mr. Yusaku Hirakata, MAFF, and Darren Padget, USW.

We want to share remarks and a toast to the MAFF delegation by USW Vice Chairman Darren Padget, a wheat farmer from Grass Valley, Ore.

It is a great privilege and honor to welcome our friends from MAFF and other distinguished guests to this evening’s reception.

“I would like to first acknowledge the long relationship between the United States wheat industry and Japan that began in 1949 when the Oregon Wheat Growers League organized a trade delegation to your country. This relationship is a success story that is worthy of being repeated again and again. For me and other farmers, it has now spanned four generations. And my father, my son and I are proud to be part of this partnership today. 

“In September, USW Chairman Doug Goyings and I had the honor of being invited to attend the signing of the bilateral trade agreement between Japan and the United States in New Your City. It is a day that will remain in my memory forever. We had the opportunity to meet Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, a most gracious individual. The agreement he and President Trump signed that day will keep U.S. wheat on a level playing field with Australia and Canada…a result that all of us here have worked hard to help achieve.

“In 2020, our organization is celebrating its fortieth year operating as U.S. Wheat Associates. USW and its member farmers now look forward to forty more years serving the Japanese people.

“Thank you for the opportunity to address you as representatives of this crucial market. Now I toast to the continuation of our long trade relationship with Japan…Kanpai!”

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By Elizabeth Westendorf, USW Assistant Director of Policy

Of the more than 1.9 million metric tons (MMT) of international food commodities the United States donated in 2018/19, more than 800,000 MT of it was high-quality milling wheat. Given the important role U.S. agriculture plays in supporting the neediest people around the world, farmers representing U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG), U.S. Grains Council (USGC), and USA Rice spent 14 days in Kenya and Tanzania in November to see how donation programs help improve lives.

The team, funded by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service export market development programs, consisted of: Nicole Berg, NAWG Treasurer and a wheat farmer in Washington state; Denise Conover, Director of the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee and a wheat farmer in Montana; Tim Gertson, USA Rice member and a rice farmer in Texas; Linsey Ogden, Washington representative for the National Sorghum Producers; Adam Schindler, USGC representative and sorghum farmer in South Dakota; Jeffery Sylvester, USA Rice board member and a rice farmer in Louisiana; Jesica Kincaid, USA Rice Manager of International Policy; Molly O’Connor, NAWG Trade Policy Advisor ; Katy Wyatt, USGC Manager of Global Strategies; and Elizabeth Westendorf, USW Assistant Director of Policy.

Denise Conover helps WFP staff load bags of US wheat into a truck for transport.

One of the most impactful days for this unique team was a visit to the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya with the World Food Programme (WFP). Some of the more than 200,000 camp residents from nine different countries have lived there for 20 years or more. In partnership with USAID, WFP is feeding 98 percent of the camp with more than half of their food supplies coming from the United States.

When the team met with the refugee-led Food Distribution Committee in the camp, its chairman, a man named Nelson, emphasized that they were always very happy with the high quality of U.S. food they received and, specifically, the excellent quality of wheat flour. The wheat is delivered to the camp in bags and refugees are given a stipend to assist with the milling cost. This is more efficient than transporting flour and helps support the local milling industry.

An important part of programs like WFP’s work in Kakuma is logistics. To gain a better understanding of that side of the work, the team also visited WFP’s office in Mombasa, Kenya, which is one of the largest ports in Africa. From its base in Mombasa, WFP supports feeding programs in Sudan, South Sudan, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Uganda. WFP has been working in Mombasa for 30 years and regularly receives U.S. food shipments.

Trip participants look at typical commodities used in the camp feeding programs.

The team meets with the refugee-led Food Distribution Committee. The Chairman, Nelson, is standing and giving an overview of their system.

While the emergency feeding programs the team observed in Kenya are vital, seeing some of USDA’s agricultural development programming completed the full picture of food assistance work that utilizes U.S. commodities. For this, the team traveled to Tanzania and observed a Food for Progress project run by Small Enterprise Assistance Funds (SEAF) and funded through the monetization of wheat. They also observed U.S. Grain Council’s successful Food for Progress project that works to support poultry farms and feed mills in country. The team members met with the mill that purchased the monetized wheat and talked to the bakery that used some of the flour. Food for Progress is unique because while funding agricultural development work, it also supports local industry and builds commercial capacity.

The team visiting a greenhouse project that allows refugees to grow their own food on irrigated land.

The U.S. agricultural industry and farm families continue to support international food assistance work. Trips like this allow our farmers to see the programs up close and in action, instead of just hearing about them in conference rooms and at board meetings. By gaining this practical experience, they are better able to spread the news about the effectiveness and value of the programs and be active partners in ensuring that these programs continue their good work long into the future.

Header Photo Caption: The team with the refugees on the Food Distribution Committee in front of a feeding center. 

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By Catherine Miller, USW Program and Planning Coordinator

One of the most important types of activities U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) overseas representatives conduct is trade service. In other words, they help their customers understand how to get the most value as possible from their U.S. wheat purchases. A crucial part of trade service is giving many of those customers the chance to experience the U.S. wheat supply system first hand.

Each year, USW brings several delegations of international wheat buyers and end-product processors to the United States. These trade delegations help forge a direct connection for customers with farmers, state wheat leaders and industry organizations. In many ways, these visits represent the legacy of commitment from farmers, state wheat commissions, USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service of USDA and USW to demonstrate the dependability of the people who produce and handle the reliable supply of U.S. wheat.

In 2019, the number of USW hosted trade delegates doubled from the previous year, with a total of 18 delegations. Almost 100 customers from around the world visited 14 states.

One delegation from Brazil, for example, was the first trade team from South America to focus exclusively on the technical staff from major mills. The participants were chosen because they have significant input on buying decisions and wheat classes used by their respective mills. They visited farmers and industry representatives in Ohio and Kansas, reflecting their interest in soft red winter (SRW) and hard red winter (HRW). The photo at the top of this page was taken as the delegation visited the Stover Farm in Shelby, Ohio. The timing of the delegation in June was ideal because in March, Brazil’s government had announced it would work toward opening a tariff rate quota to allow a significant volume of wheat to be imported from outside the South American Mercosur trade agreement.

U.S. wheat farmers benefit directly from USW helping customers around the world succeed in growing the profitability and consumer appeal of their flour and wheat foods products. That starts with activities like trade delegations demonstrating that, despite obvious differences, the people who grow, move and sell U.S. wheat share values of growth, hard work and family with the people who import, mill and process it.