By Catherine Miller, USW Program and Planning Coordinator
U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) believes customer engagement, supply chain transparency and accessible global market information are the building blocks for robust relationships with U.S. wheat customers.
USW often partners with organizations that offer a variety of short courses related to the global wheat supply chain and processing industries, providing the opportunity for customer engagement and education. These partners include Northern Crops Institute (NCI) at North Dakota State University (NDSU) in Fargo, N.D., IGP Institute at Kansas State University (KSU) in Manhattan, K.S., and Wheat Marketing Center (WMC) in Portland, Oregon.
In 2019, USW sponsored 81 participants from Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe at eight short courses and four workshops at IGP, NCI and WMC.
In addition, USW staff and consulting experts who may be associated with the educational partner organizations, conduct such courses or workshops. Funding for the educational service is provided primarily by export market development programs directed by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
Wherever they are held, these courses are focused on helping customers better understand the U.S. grain marketing system from farm to port, U.S. wheat classes and risk management needed to ensure future purchases provide the best value. With the different courses offered, USW can serve participants from such diverse backgrounds as millers, bakers, end-product manufacturers and buyers.
A core educational program that USW offers is the “Contracting for Value Workshop.” It is designed to help customers gain greater knowledge of supply chain management challenges and opportunities to write tenders for U.S. wheat that will yield the greatest return on their investment.
While this workshop is typically hosted at one of the U.S. educational organizations, this year USW’s team in the Mexico, Central America and Caribbean Region decided to hold workshops in Mexico City and Chihuahua, Mexico. Agricultural Economics Professor Frayne Olson of North Dakota State University, who supports short courses held at NCI, joined USW staff to conduct the workshops in October 2019.
“By doing the workshops in-country, USW staff and consultants could meet with the entire management teams at two different mills in a week,” said Stephanie Bryant-Erdmann, USW Assistant Regional Director. “Having the general managers and owners as well as the production, storage, quality and purchasing staff all together was invaluable because while they were learning about U.S. wheat quality, we also could see consensus being built on the specifications as the teams identified the wheat characteristics that had the most value for them.”
This commitment to customer service before and after U.S. wheat is imported is one of the unique legacies represented by USW’s partnership with farmers, the U.S. government, state wheat commissions and our educational partner organizations.
Header Photo Caption: Contracting for Value Workshop in Chihuahua, Mexico