To misquote Mark Twain, reports of the death of agricultural negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) are exaggerated. That is a key message for the world’s wheat growers and buyers following the Thirteenth WTO Ministerial Conference (MC13) in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. In the WTO photo above, Director General Okonjo-Iweala encouraged members to close remaining gaps to secure outcomes during the Conference.

“Going into MC13 negotiations, we did not want to see any backsliding on past progress made on agricultural commitments at the WTO,” said U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Director of Trade Policy Peter Laudeman, who joined a coalition of U.S. agricultural representatives at the Conference. “Fortunately, the U.S. negotiating team and many other countries were able to hold firm, particularly against India’s protection of its trade-distorting wheat and rice policies.”

On Feb. 29, 2024, during the Ministerial, Politico Pro trade reporter Doug Palmer provided additional background about the agricultural negotiations.

“The U.S. farm groups contend India’s me-first approach is a non-starter because the “peace clause” agreed in Bali has allowed it to accumulate huge rice and wheat stocks that it buys at above market prices and then sells into world markets at a discount,” Palmer wrote. “They also argue there is a much older mandate for a broad-based negotiation in the 1994 WTO Agriculture Agreement that includes trade-distorting domestic support and market access barriers that countries impose to keep out farm exports.”

For more information about U.S. wheat industry positions on WTO agricultural policy, visit “USW Trade Policy Team Addresses India’s Subsidies, Turkish Flour at WTO.”

Members of a U.S. agricultural coalition met during the WTO MC13 with USTR Chief Ag Negotiator Doug McKalip in February 2024.

USTR Chief Agricultural Negotiator Doug McKalip met with U.S. agricultural industry representatives at the WTO 13th Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi in February 2024. Representatives included (L-R) Peter Laudeman, U.S. Wheat Associates: Molly O’Connor, CropLife America; Ambassador McKalip; Maria Zieba, National Pork Producers Council; Karah Fissel, USA Rice; Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, AgTrade Strategies, LLC; Tony Rice, National Milk Producers Federation; and Ben Conner, DTB AgriTrade.

Shared Interests

Laudeman would agree with U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Katherine Tai‘s post-conference statement that, “Members have worked to identify shared interests and build convergence in a collaborative way. Members are identifying new ideas and improvements that can help all of us more effectively resolve disputes and make the system more accessible at the same time.”

The U.S. government negotiating team including USTR Chief Agricultural Negotiator Doug McKalip deserves credit for holding the line on the issues in agriculture said Laudeman who also noted that support existing commitments is more widespread than in the past.

Opportunity to Advance Negotiations

“Many countries that agreed that India’s firm stance on Public Stockholding (PHS) was not productive in advancing agricultural negotiations at the WTO,” Laudeman said. “Notably, many Least Developed Countries recognized that India’s PSH program had negatively affected their own food security.”

Ambassador Tai went on to say that while the United States is disappointed that WTO members were not able to reach consensus on agriculture, “the United States will continue to engage with other Members to achieve meaningful outcomes on these important issues.”

“The message for our wheat farmers and our customers around the world is that the WTO is not broken yet,” Laudeman said. “And we are still standing up for commitments that have been made and creatively looking for progress in the way forward.”


News and Information from Around the Wheat Industry

Speaking of Wheat

“The abrupt termination of the implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative is a matter of grave concern. Global food security should not become a casualty of war. People in poor countries struggling with food and energy price inflation stand to be hit hardest by the termination of the initiative: Prices for future delivery of wheat and corn are already rising. Therefore, I urge all parties to make every effort to come back to the negotiating table.” — World Trade Organization Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, from an Inside U.S. Trade article. Read more here.

Political cartoon by Michael de Adder, The Washington Post, of Russian President Putin holding a bag labelled "Grain" hostage with a gun.

Copyright Michael de Adder, The Washington Post

Club Wheat Outlook

Matthew Weaver with Capital Press interviewed Washington Grain Commission Executive Director Casey Chumrau about the 2023 club wheat crop and the outlook for 2014. The region’s wheat industry anticipates lower yields overall this year compared to last. Outlook for club production is unclear at this point, Chumrau said. “A lot of the planted area for club is in regions in Washington where it still is looking promising for production,” she said. “The club acres seem to be in some of those areas with better prospects.” Read more here.

Prepare for Global Drought

In a article, World Weather, Inc., agricultural meteorologist Drew Lerner writes about the risk of future global drought and the need to prepare for a serious food shortage. “A series of serious droughts occurred in 2007-08 that resulted in reduced food supply in portions of North America, eastern Asia, Southeast Asia, Australia and parts of South America,” he wrote. “Most of the droughts at that time did not impact each of the listed regions of the world at the same time, but enough production cut occurred to lead to the first modern day grain and oilseed supply shortage. The world muddled its way through that event mostly unscathed, but what about the future? Will we be lucky enough to get along with limited food stocks?” Read more here.

South Dakota State University wheat breeder Dunish Sehgal in a wheat field.

Dr. Sunish Sehgal. Photo copyright South Dakota State University.

Honored Wheat Breeder

Sunish Sehgal, associate professor and South Dakota State University (SDSU) winter wheat breeder, was honored by the Wheat Quality Council with the 2023 Millers Choice Best of Show Award for the second consecutive year. The honor annually recognizes the wheat breeder of the variety that is most well-liked by U.S. millers participating in the WQC’s evaluation program. The main goal of the SDSU hard winter wheat breeding group is to develop high-yielding wheat varieties with resilience to biotic and abiotic stress and provide end-use quality for the milling and baking industry. “At SDSU, we lay as much emphasis on wheat quality as on yield,” Sehgal said. Read the full story here.

Grain Sciences Event Calendar

Dr. M. Hikmet Boyacioglu, Applications Development Specialist with KPM, shares a monthly “Cereal & Grain Sciences Events Calendar. The August calendar is now online. See it and upcoming monthly calendars at

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News and Information from Around the Wheat Industry

Speaking of Wheat

“The big news in wheat was the hard red winter number — shock-and-awe for USDA to increase it that much. The average trade guess was 532 million bushels, so the number was way above what anybody anticipated. We had a broad-based increase in yields, including Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Big increases in Colorado and Nebraska with the rainfall. Montana yield up 5 bushels an acre, although that’s not yet certain, and then a little bit of an offset in South Dakota.” — Bill Lapp, founder and president of Advanced Economic Solutions in Omaha, Nebraska, as quoted in the World-Grain article “U.S. Winter Wheat Forecast Surprises Analysts.”  Read the full story here.

Russia Suggests Revival of Black Sea Grain Deal Dependent on ‘Improved Exports’

As Reuters and several other news organizations reported, a deal allowing the safe Black Sea export of Ukraine’s grain expired on July 17 after Russia quit and warned it could not guarantee the safety of ships. Russian officials suggested that if demands to improve exports of its own grain and fertilizer were met it would consider resurrecting the Black Sea agreement. However, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that a U.N. pact that aimed to help facilitate Russia’s shipments over the past year was also terminated. Read the full story here.

Climate and Violence Hobble Nigeria’s Push to Rely on its Own Wheat

The Associated Press published a story July 19 from Abuja, Nigeria revisiting the fact that Nigeria is trying to become self-sufficient. The government has launched programs to provide loans to farmers and boost domestic grain production. But extreme weather and violence from both gangs and farmers and cattle herders clashing over resources have hindered those efforts. It’s left Nigeria unable to produce enough wheat to bridge a gap in supply of more than 5 million metric tons. Read the full story here.

Nestle Investing in Wheat Supply Chain

In a July 19 article, reported that Nestle USA, Inc. is investing in regenerative agriculture practices across its DiGiorno pizza brand supply chain in an effort to reduce the company’s overall carbon footprint.  The company’s investment will impact more than 100,000 acres of wheat-producing farmland. Nestle has partnerships with ADM and Ardent Mills, the two primary wheat flour suppliers for DiGiorno products, to support wheat farms in Kansas, Missouri, North Dakota, and Indiana.  Read the full story here.

Peters: Educational Efforts Build Relationships

In a July 17 interview with farm broadcaster Lorrie Boyer, U.S. Wheat Associates Board Chairman Michael Peters discussed U.S. Wheat’s upcoming work building export markets for wheat. He pointed out that, not surprisingly, one of the biggest challenges has been Russia. “Russia has still been shipping out a lot of wheat over this past year when they’ve shipped it out at a lot cheaper price than what we’re able to grow and produce it here in the U.S. So that has created some issues for us, with our overseas customers.” Listen to the Ag Information Network Report here.

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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.

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News and Information from Around the Wheat Industry

Speaking of Wheat

The international [grain] price in Ukraine will be on the level of the cost of production. Harvested grains and oilseeds will be level of 62 million (tonnes), exports about 40 million. We have only three seaports operating at capacity and [under the ‘fragile agreement’ to ship grains and other commodities via the Black Sea] Russia uses every possibility… to complicate these exports. [Ukraine’s] intention is to ensure freedom of navigation to and from Ukrainian seaports.” — Taras Kachka, deputy minister for Development of Economy, Trade and Agriculture of Ukraine, Trade Representative of Ukraine, from an article about the 2023 International Grains Council Conference by Chris Lyddon, World Read more here.

Russian Government Seeks Wheat Export Control

Bloomberg included an article June 29 suggesting “The Kremlin” is looking to exert greater control of Russian wheat production and trade. Reporter Aine Quinn wrote: “Russia’s growing market power is part of a broader effort. International traders such as Cargill Inc., left after facing pressure to clear the way for domestic companies. The changes put more control in domestic hands and could potentially make it easier for local companies to ship grains grown in occupied Ukrainian territory — and for Moscow to influence prices.” The article also suggested more government control of wheat would help it keep “the Global South on their side.” Read the article here.

Challenge from China on Black Sea Deal?

Agri-Pulse trade reporter Bill Tomson reported this week that China’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations has stated that the Black Sea Grain Initiative needs to be renewed this month. The article indicates that China is most concerned about supplies of corn to feed its massive swine herd according to Collin Watters, director of exports and logistics for the Illinois Corn Marketing Board. Read more about the politics of war and grain here. Russian officials on July 5 said a final decision on whether to extend the grain deal has not been made.

National Wheat Foundation Tour for Government Staff

On June 27, 2023, the National Wheat Foundation and Maryland wheat grower Eric Spates, hosted a wheat farm tour for congressional staff and USDA employees. The attendees had the opportunity to explore the farm, witness the wheat harvesting process, and listen to speakers who specialize in the agriculture industry. The discussions centered around crucial topics such as risk management, conservation, pesticide programs, and environmental issues. Read more about the tour here.

Welcoming New NAWG Government Relations Representative

The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) has hired Jack Long as the new Government Relations Representative. Long is a recent graduate from Oklahoma State University, where he received a Master’s in Agribusiness. Long is originally from Cole Camp, MO, and comes from a multigenerational farming operation. He has worked for Cornerstone Government Affairs and the Oklahoma State Senate, which provided him with a fundamental understanding of policy and current issues within the wheat industry. Read more here.

Communications Job in Montana

The state of Montana is accepting applications for the position of Marketing & Communications Director with the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee (MWBC), a state wheat commission member of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW). This position is responsible for managing marketing and outreach activities, content development and communications efforts for the MWBC. Primary obligations include planning and implementation of domestic marketing and international trade efforts aimed at increasing purchases of Montana grown wheat and barley. Read more or to apply, visit Montana’s government website here.

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.

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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 YouTube, and more on LinkedIn.


News and Information from Around the Wheat Industry

Speaking of Wheat

Without a trade agenda that also advances U.S. economic interests by addressing barriers to U.S. exports through free trade agreements, the United States will lose influence globally. Other countries welcome U.S. products and benefit from the two-way relationship that free trade agreements promote. The U.S. government’s trade policy should be comprehensive … strengthening our global economic presence through proactive policies that support our export competitive industries such as U.S. food and agriculture.” – Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, founder of AgTrade Strategies and former assistant USTR for agricultural affairs and commodity policy, in a story by Agri-Pulse Trade Reporter Bill Tomson.

President Peterson Looks at Wheat Export Opportunities

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) President Vince Peterson was in Montana this week for a meeting of the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee. He was interviewed by local media about the current challenges to U.S. wheat exports and future opportunities. “We’re trying to work in that environment where we’re facing a lot of competition globally,” Peterson said. “But at the same time, the carrot is out there … We’re going to have nearly 10 billion people by 2050, we’re going to consume a billion tons of wheat globally, and we’re going to have to trade 350 million tons of that globally.” Read more here.

Drought Expansion

University of Illinois FarmDoc says as of middle June, much of the U.S. corn production region is either dry or in drought according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, raising the prospects of a serious drought like that which occurred in 2012. Typically, prices continue to rise in drought years and, as an alternative to corn as a feed grain, winter wheat’s weather market appears to have momentum. European analyst Strategie Grains mentioned wheat production is confirmed at low levels in Spain and North Africa, and drought is starting to take hold across northern Europe, affecting yield potentials.

This illustration shows a U.S. map with corn production and drought indicating 65% of corn production area is in drought as of June 20, 2023.

This illustration from government sources shows a U.S. map with corn production and drought indicating 64% of corn production area is in drought as of June 20, 2023.

EU Softening Toward Gene Editing?

Agri-Pulse reported this week that a European Commission draft proposal could lead to a loosening of regulations on new genetic engineering techniques like gene editing. A draft regulatory document leaked and posted online by advocacy group ARC2020 proposes a streamlined path for certain new genomic techniques, or NGTs. An official proposal is expected early next month. “To see the European Commission edging toward welcoming gene editing is just a great thing,” Matthias Berninger, Bayer Crop Protection’s senior vice president of public affairs, science and sustainability, told Agri-Pulse at the company’s Crop Science Innovation Summit in New York City. Read more here.

NAWG: Dam Removal Endangers U.S. Wheat Export Competitiveness

At a at a Congressional Western Caucus Forum on the Importance of Hydropower to Rural Communities, National Association of Wheat Growers Chandler Goule provided a wheat perspective on the importance of the river system and barging play in helping feed the world. “The Lower Snake River Dams are a critical infrastructure system required to move U.S.-grown wheat to high-value markets around the world,” said Chandler Goule. “More than 55 percent of all U.S. wheat exports move through the Snake River system by barge or rail. Specifically, 10 percent of wheat that is exported from the United States passes through the four locks and dams along the Lower Snake River. This corridor is the third-largest grain export corridor in the world and is the single largest corridor for U.S. wheat exports.” NAWG remains opposed to breaching the dams as the agricultural, clean energy, and transportation benefits from the lock and dam system are irreplaceable and will continue to advocate on behalf of wheat growers to maintain this vital infrastructure. Read more here.

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 YouTube, and more on LinkedIn.


Each year, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) publishes the National Trade Estimates (NTE) report. This report compiles detailed trade barriers that U.S. exporters, including wheat farmers, are facing in markets around the world.

To compile this report, USTR solicits input from export stakeholders to provide details on the specific trade barriers they are facing. Each year, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) gathers and submits to USTR information from our overseas offices, customers, and other policy information sources in order to paint a full picture of the trade barriers U.S.-grown wheat faces in overseas markets.

Turkey’s Incomplete Subsidy Reporting

USW’s most recent NTE submission to USTR for 2023 reporting can be found here. The submission provides an overview of all key trade barriers that inhibit competitive U.S. Wheat exports in markets around the world. This is a critical annual opportunity for U.S. Wheat farmers to provide USTR with new and updated information with the goal to address these trade barriers to the greatest extent possible in the coming year.

While some issues USW submits for the NTE report may show incremental progress over time, other areas provide critical, timely feedback on changes in the trade barrier landscape. This year, in addition to other global barriers, USW included an up-to-date review of Turkey’s trade distorting subsidy practices.

Turkey is Non-Compliant

Turkey maintains a web of substantial domestic support programs that incentivize the overproduction of Turkish flour, which can then be dumped into overseas markets below global price levels. This dumping of heavily subsidized Turkish flour displaces domestic milling industries, and in turn, U.S. wheat exports. In this year’s NTE submission, USW updated data on Turkish domestic price supports to show that while these subsidies still exist, Turkey has failed to properly disclose them to the World Trade Organization (WTO). In fact, while Turkey has recently caught up with many of their required WTO subsidy notifications (although they have still only notified through 2016), they make no mention of wheat price supports.

The support price is up slightly from last year and still provides an extraordinarily strong price signal to Turkish farmers that is well above global market prices and keeps Turkey noncompliant with its WTO commitments. Turkey needs to be transparent and pushed to submit timely and accurate notifications that cover all programs, including product-specific input subsidies that are available to wheat farmers.” – From USW NTE Submission for 2023

In addition to updates on Turkey’s data discrepancies, USW has also identified and detailed a previously unreported freight subsidy further incentivizing flour exports. This subsidy is provided as a cash refund to exporters for the transportation of wheat flour. Formal documentation of the subsidy is limited, and once again, Turkey does not detail this practice in their annual notification to the WTO.

USW will continue to work closely with USTR to better understand and document how this practice, and other subsidies, distort multiple major export markets for U.S. wheat farmers. USW estimates that eliminating unfair competition from cheap Turkish flour exports would increase returns to U.S. wheat producers by $100 million to $500 million per year.

By Peter Laudeman, USW Director of Trade Policy


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.”


This week, the Biden Administration launched a signature foreign policy initiative aimed at increasing economic involvement across Southeast Asia. The initiative is called the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity or IPEF.

According to the initial declaration issued by the participating countries, it “intends to advance resilience, sustainability, inclusiveness, economic growth, fairness, and competitiveness for our economies. Through this initiative, we aim to contribute to cooperation, stability, prosperity, development, and peace within the region.”

TPP Replacement?

While touted by some in the United States as a replacement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) for economic engagement in the Southeast Asia region, what has been revealed so far about the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework is quite different from Free Trade Agreements (FTA) like TPP. Unlike an FTA, the IPEF has no plans for addressing tariffs, instead featuring four “pillars” that individual countries can choose to opt-in or out of.

Those pillars are:

  • Trade
  • Supply Chains
  • Clean Energy, Decarbonization and Infrastructure
  • Tax and Anti-corruption

The initial countries agreeing to launch the discussions include key U.S. wheat markets such as Japan, the Philippines, Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia. Others include Australia, Brunei, India, New Zealand and Singapore.

Next Steps

These countries have not yet stated which pillars of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework they intend to join. The outcome of those individual country decisions will likely come after initial negotiations establish the scope of issues to be addressed by each pillar, and for the trade section, this will have far-reaching implications for the value of any subsequent agreement.

The timeline for reaching final agreements across all pillars ranges from 12 to 24 months, making it a hopeful first-term effort for President Biden. IPEF is not expected to require Congressional approval because it would not change U.S. law. Changes would require the U.S. Trade Representative to consult with and eventually seek approval from the U.S. Congress.

This also avoids the need for Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which expired nearly a year ago. Politically, TPA is often seen as a prerequisite for large-scale negotiations because it delegates some negotiating powers from Congress to the administration and establishes processes for formal consultation and expedited voting for eventual agreements.

With no congressional approval, required an aggressive timeline is more likely for IPEF. However, it also indicates that the scope of the trade pillar will likely be limited in depth.

By Dalton Henry, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Vice President of Policy 


U.S.-Cuba relations have been up and down like a roller coaster in the 11 years since the last U.S. wheat export shipment to Cuba. Last week, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) staff traveled to the island nation as part of a U.S. agricultural conference to see and hear firsthand about trade opportunities – despite frosty bilateral relations.

There is no clearer example of that roller coaster than in the U.S. embassy. After being shuttered for more than a half-century, the embassy was reopened in 2015 during the Obama administration as a sign of goodwill and a hopeful return to a bilateral relationship. Closed in 2017 after never-proven allegations Cuba had perpetrated a “sonic attack” on diplomats, it now operates on a limited basis. Yet relations are so low that the U.S. government has refused to repair recent hurricane damages.

Image shows a meeting in Cuba of the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba

Cuban Meeting. The U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba sponsored a recent meeting for U.S. agricultural representatives, including USW, with Cuban officials and business interests.

Demanding Respect

That roller coaster in relations continued in the recent conference, where high points about the potential of increased trade and renewed relationships were mixed with harsh rhetoric. Throughout three days of meetings and events with government officials, private business owners and conference attendees, the U.S. delegation repeatedly heard about the harm of the U.S. embargo on Cuba, and especially about tightened measures put into place under the Trump administration. Listing Cuba as a state sponsor of terror and further restricting the ability of U.S. business operations garnered a great deal of ire from the Cuban speakers.

Though conducting business with Cuba is more bureaucratically challenging for U.S. companies than nearly anywhere else on earth, Cuba can and does still purchase some U.S. commodities. The prime example is chicken. Cuba now ranks as a top-three destination for U.S. chicken exports.

Complex Situation

The competitive situation for wheat is much more complex than the products they currently purchase. While the United States has a proximity and logistical advantage over any other wheat supplier, Cuban officials said other countries routinely offer generous credit terms of one to two years. Access to any level of financing has proved particularly important to Cuba, given its relative shortage of hard currency.

Agricultural trade with Cuba was authorized under strict terms with the passage of the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000. However, the act required onerous payment terms such as full cash payment in advance of exports, use of third-country banks and travel restrictions on cargo vessels between the two countries. Though that policy sparked sales of U.S. commodities for a few years, the Cuban economy continued to struggle, and those terms have become overbearing. The result has been widespread economic distress for the Cuban people, who are now challenged to secure affordable food. Their stories include bread shortages and state-sponsored food ration supplies being unavailable.

Cuba Needs Wheat

Before COVID, Cuba regularly imported an average of 750,000 metric tons of wheat. That volume would likely make Cuba a top-ten market for U.S. wheat under a normal trading relationship. However, a true “normal” relationship would extend beyond just access to private credit and connections between U.S. and Cuban banking sectors to facilitate trade. For Cuba to reach its full potential as a U.S. commodity export destination, it would likely require the enablement of two-way trade – selling Cuban produce and processed products in the U.S. market. That development would go beyond the agricultural sales provisions of the laws that currently allow one-way trade with Cuba.

End the Embargo

While that may be a worthy goal of opening up to Cuba, in the meantime, U.S. growers need Congress to act. Access to the same payment and shipping terms offered to any other wheat market is a good and reasonable starting point.

The United States has long had a policy of not using food as a weapon. It is past time for us to be honest with our own rhetoric in the case of our closest Caribbean neighbor.

By USW Vice President of Policy Dalton Henry, who represented USW on the trip sponsored by the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba.


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

Speaking of Wheat

The retaliatory tariffs led to a significant reduction in U.S. agricultural exports to retaliating partners. Nationally, direct U.S. agricultural export losses due to retaliatory tariffs totaled more than $27 billion during 2018 through the end of 2019. Across retaliatory partners, China accounted for approximately 95 percent of the losses ($25.7 billion) …” — From “The Economic Impacts of Retaliatory Tariffs on U.S. Agriculture,” a study by the USDA Economic Research Service.

Market Outlook Webinar

The Northern Crops Institute (NCI) Market Update webinar series will feature Jeffrey McPike with WASEDA Commodities Inc. for its next webinar, Feb. 16, 2022. McPike will review the 2022 market outlook for wheat, corn and soybeans. Register for the webinar here. Previous NCI Market Update webinars are posted online, including a look at durum markets on Feb. 2 by Jim Peterson, Policy and Marketing Director, North Dakota Wheat Commission.

Wheat in the Spotlight

Wheat is back in the national and international news these days. Reporters have asked U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) to comment on how a Russian invasion of Ukraine would affect wheat prices (about which we do not speculate). The Wall Street Journal and Forbes reported on that topic. wrote about higher costs for Lunar New Year treats like sponge cakes and pineapple tarts based on smaller U.S. soft white wheat supplies. Bloomberg published a similar article.

Sufficient Moisture

Kansas wheat farmers reported last week during a board meeting of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers that wheat fields across Kansas were generally planted into sufficient moisture conditions and went into winter with decent stands. But more moisture will be needed over the winter and into the spring to kickstart a crop emerging from dormancy and maintain growth. Read more here.

2022 Northern Crops Institute Courses

The Northern Crops Institute (NCI) in Fargo, N.D., has available courses in 2022 for online and in-person instruction. Available courses include a Pasta Production and Technology course in April. Learn more about NCI courses and how to register here.

2022 IGP Institute Flour Milling Course Schedule

The IGP Institute in Manhattan, Kan., has several upcoming flour milling and grain processing courses available in 2022. Courses in this curriculum area cover aspects of managing the flour milling process, from grain selection to finished products. Learn more about IGP Institute courses and how to register here.

Subscribe to USW Reports

USW publishes various reports and content that are 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.