U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai speaks at USDA's 2024 Ag Outlook Forum.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai spoke about free trade agreements at USDA’s 2024 Ag Outlook Forum, held Feb. 15-16 in Washington, D.C.

Agricultural trade – including topics tied closely to the work of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) – was a major focus during the 100th annual Ag Outlook Forum hosted Feb. 15-16 by USDA in Washington, D.C.

A panel discussion titled, “100 Years of U.S. Ag Trade; A Century of Growth, Innovation, and Progress” was the highlight of the first day. The panel featured speakers from USDA, the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

History of Free Trade

USDA Senior Economist Sharon Sydow presented a crash course on the history of trade liberalization. Her subjects ranged from the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) to the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and expansion of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements.

“The historical perspective of her presentation showed the exponential growth in U.S. agriculture trade through these progressive measures,” said forum attendee USW Director of Trade Policy Peter Laudeman.

Global Food Assistance

Also on the first day, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Deputy Director General Beth Bechdol pointed out that agricultural trade is critical to the nourishment and development of poor, food insecure countries. Looking to the future, Bechdol said she sees successful American agricultural trade as an essential component for fighting global hunger and poverty.

Importance of Trade

On the second day, several speakers highlighted the importance of agricultural trade. A keynote address by U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai addressed some of the recent free trade accomplishments that have eliminated barriers to agricultural trade. Additionally, she committed to continue fighting for American farmers in places where trade barriers remain.

Carlson Addresses the Philippines, Relationships

MaryKay Carlson, U.S Ambassador to the Philippines, was also in attendance and spoke on the importance of relationships for agricultural trade success. She highlighted the long-standing ties between the U.S. and the Philippines.  Those ties have allowed that country to become the No. 2 export destination for U.S. wheat. Carlson noted the consistent quality of U.S. wheat and characteristics that make Filipino flour millers and bakers regular customers.

Relationship-building has also been a big part of the success the U.S. has enjoyed in the Philippines. USW recently helped the Filipino flour milling industry achieve renewed anti-dumping duties on imported Turkish flour to defend and maintain this trading relationship with U.S. wheat farmers.


U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) has a responsibility to help the world’s wheat buyers, flour millers, bakers, and wheat food processors better understand how U.S. farmers produce higher-yielding, higher-quality wheat while using methods that are better for the planet we all share. Our new “Stories of Stewardship” focus provides specific examples of this commitment.

It is also important to understand that farmers and the federal government have been partners in conservation for decades. The 2018 Farm Bill maintained a strong commitment to voluntary, incentive-based conservation programs that have been utilized by wheat growers across the country and are expanding with the infusion of additional funding under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022.

The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) has reported that between 2018 and 2021, wheat farmers entered over 7,500 contracts with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service through the Farm Bill conservation programs. These include such practices as cover crops, reduced tillage, erosion control terraces, and grassed waterways. NAWG suggests the flexibility and local decision-making included in the Farm Bill conservation programs is vital to their success.

Image shows the front of the USDA building in Washington, DC, with Department of Agriculture shown behind a U.S. flag.

Farmers and the federal government have been partners in conservation for decades. The 2018 Farm Bill maintained a strong commitment to voluntary, incentive-based conservation programs that have been utilized by wheat growers across the country.

Effective Incentives

The Farm Bill conservation programs have a permanent budget, but the IRA provided an additional $18 billion for the programs. That extra funding represents an incentive for farmers and agribusinesses to implement green agriculture production methods and is being made available in tranches through 2026.

“Politico” reported in August 2023 that the agricultural industry is responding positively to the incentives. The article quoted a former senior director of government relations at the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) saying the program’s popularity is based on its “voluntary, incentive-based approach” that he said allows for innovation.

Farmers Want Voluntary Conservation Programs

The demand for conservation programs among U.S. wheat farmers is strong according to testimony to Congress on Title II Conservation Programs in 2022 by then NAWG President Nicole Berg.

“Wheat growers and other crop, livestock and forest landowners are seeking assistance through the voluntary conservation programs and there is a backlog of more growers seeking assistance than funding (and staff time) available,” Berg said. “We recognize that the Inflation Reduction Act added a significant amount of funding to these programs and hopefully that backlog will be addressed, and we urge Congress to continue the commitment to voluntary, incentive-based conservation programs in the next Farm Bill.”

Despite predictable political opposition to elements of the IRA agricultural conservation programs, there is growing support for making additional conservation funding a permanent part of farm legislation. “Agri-Pulse” recently reported that under the budget rules used to pass the IRA, none of the money can be spent after 2031, and there is no lever to increase long-term funding levels.

Pressure to Do It Well

“We’ve got resources to do good things right now, but at the same time, we’re under some pressure to do that well and to get those resources put out into the field in a way that obviously works for the environment, works for our customers – the producers – and works for the taxpayer,” USDA Farm Production and Conservation Undersecretary Robert Bonnie said.

USW is encouraged by the on-going partnership between U.S. agriculture, including wheat farmers, and the federal government aimed at conserving farms and farmland and the gifts of soil, water, and seed. We will continue to share this and many other “Stories of Stewardship” with our customers everywhere.


Breads made with U.S. wheat caught the attention of the U.S. Ambassador to Chile during September’s Espacio Food and Service trade show in Santiago. It set in motion a series of discussions that led to Amb. Bernadette Meehan touring a top Chilean flour mill arranged by the U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) South American regional team.

The bread Meehan raved about at the show was baked in the USW wheat flour and baking laboratory on the campus of Universidad Mayor.

“Ambassador Meehan opened the Food and Service Show this past fall and noted an interest in the bread at our display. She wanted to know more about U.S. wheat’s work in Chile, the flour milling process and the products produced using U.S. wheat,” explained Miguel Galdos, USW Regional Director in South America.  “I contacted a USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) specialist and set up a visit to a mill. We met and toured a mill on Jan. 10 at Molinos Cunaco, a customer of U.S. wheat and one of Chile’s largest milling companies.”

Molinos Cunaco processes approximately 300,000 metric tons of wheat each year, of which 30% to 35% is U.S. wheat.

USW arranged a tour of a Molinos Cunaco flour mill for U.S. Ambassador to Chile Bernadette Meehan. In this photo, USW Regional DIrector Miguel Galdos (far left) and Meehan (second from right) pose with Molinos Cunaco executives in the mill's packaging room.

USW arranged a tour of a Molinos Cunaco flour mill for U.S. Ambassador to Chile Bernadette Meehan. Posing for a photo in the mill’s packaging department are (left to right) USW Regional Director Miguel Galdos, U.S. Agricultural Attaché Bret Tate, Ambassador Meehan, and Molinos Cunaco General Manager Cristian Diaz.

A Close Look at U.S. Wheat in the Market

Meehan became Ambassador to Chile in July 2022.   She was joined on the mill tour by U.S. Agricultural Attaché Bret Tate and FAS Marketing Specialist Maria Jose Herrera. Molinos Cunaco’s General Manager Cristian Díaz, Director Juan Enrique Ojeda and Finance Manager José Ignacio Vargas hosted the American group.

“The meeting between the Ambassador and the executives covered a lot of topics,” Galdos reported. “One topic was the current situation of the milling industry in Chile. They also discussed the commercial relationship between the company and its wheat suppliers. Cooperation of the U.S. government on issues involving Chilean agriculture and trade was also part of the chat.”

After the meeting, the group moved to the mill. Meehan walked all five floors of the facility to see the entire milling process – from U.S. wheat being brought into the mill to the department where flour made with the wheat is packaged.

Galdos shares a U.S. wheat sample card with ambassador Meehan during discussions about the many uses for U.S. wheat and the preferences of end users in Chile.

Galdos shares a U.S. wheat sample card with ambassador Meehan during discussions about the many uses for U.S. wheat and the preferences of end users in Chile.

Chile Typically Imports Four Classes of Wheat

Galdos shared with her the fact that U.S. wheat currently has about a 30% market share in Chile. He explained that Chile typically imports four classes of U.S. wheat: hard red winter, soft red winter, soft white and hard red spring wheat. In 2023, due to the pricing situation, only three classes were purchased by Chilean millers – soft white, soft red winter and hard red winter.

“The ambassador asked a lot of questions about wheat, the milling process and the end products. We answered all of her questions,” said Galdos. “She had the opportunity to meet the people who work in different areas of the company.”

Ambassador Shares Appreciation for USW

Later that day, Meehan posted an account of the tour on her X, formerly Twitter, account, which can be seen here.

“Incredible experience today at #molinocunaco with representatives from U.S. Wheat Associates,” Meehan noted in her post. “I discovered that Chile imports American wheat varieties for bread and other high-quality delicacies – continued collaboration to deliver exceptional products to consumers.”


News and Information from Around the Wheat Industry

Speaking of Wheat

The Commodity Credit Corporation and USDA’s market development and aid programs are critically important at this time, and with this additional support we can strengthen U.S agriculture’s presence in existing markets, open up new market opportunities, and build on our relationships and connections to ensure that high-quality American agriculture and food products reach where they are needed in the world.” – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announcing a new program adding funds to support U.S. export market development and international food assistance.

USW, State Commissions Welcome COFCO Trade Team

USW Hong Kong/China regional office is undertaking a first-hand look at the U.S. wheat supply chain and quality management systems for 8 wheat and flour industry managers with China’s COFCO agribusiness company. The trade team is planned to demonstrate to these purchase and quality managers that U.S. farmers, strong rail and river transport system, third-party quality certification and economical ocean freight from the PNW and Gulf provide a trusted source of wheat. State wheat commissions in Oregon, North Dakota, Texas, Kansas, and Ohio are hosting the team through early November. China’s U.S. wheat purchases have ramped up again in 2023/24 and, as of Oct. 12, 2023, include about 680,000 metric tons (MT) of soft red winter and 69,000 MT of hard red spring wheat.

USW staff and the COFCO team pause for a photo at the Wheat Marketing Center in Portland.

USW staff and the COFCO team pause for a photo at the Wheat Marketing Center in Portland.

Celebrating World Bread Day

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Manila, Philippines, office joined a celebration of World Bread Day (Oct. 16) at a Baking Demonstration Festival in Manila October 19 and 20. This was a joint project with the Filipino-Chinese Baking Association, Inc., and the Philippine Society of Baking that presented “BREAD OF THE WORLD,” filled with exciting new ideas, trends and innovations. The event featured free tastings, shared recipes to indulge in the goodness of baking fresh breads together. Several classes of U.S. wheat are imported by the Philippine milling industry to supply most of the flour consumed in that country.

Support For Conservation and Climate-Smart Agriculture

The USDA reported on October 16 that $1.77 billion has been issued through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to agriculture producers and landowners. USDA Secretary Vilsack said, “These producers and landowners voluntarily place their land under contract and, in the spirit of stewardship, agree to establish and maintain prescribed conservation practices for the life of contract.” There are conservation efforts on more than 23 million acres of private land and a 21% increase in the acres enrolled since 2021.

Key Washington State Rail Line

The Federal Railroad Administration selected the state of Washington to receive a substantial $72.8 million Fiscal Year 2022 Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement (CRISI) grant for capital improvements on the Palouse River and Coulee City (PCC) short line railroad. “This grant will allow the grain industry to respond to a critical need for improved transportation infrastructure and is deeply appreciated,” Washington Grain Commission CEO Casey Chumrau said. The railroad is an essential component of the Eastern Washington agricultural supply chain, facilitating the movement of the state’s high-quality wheat and barley to larger rail lines and on to both domestic and international markets.

National Wheat Yield Contest Winners

The National Wheat Yield Contest has announced the achievements of its 24 national winners, hailing from 12 different states, who have achieved an average yield of 144 bushels per acre (355 MT/hectare) across all categories. The National Wheat Foundation noted that growers demonstrated exceptional resilience this year. Despite facing adversity, with 59% of winter wheat production affected by drought on May 9, and 75% of spring wheat production impacted on July 25, these dedicated individuals showcased unwavering commitment to maximizing their wheat productivity in spite of environmental challenges. 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.


News and Information from Around the Wheat Industry

Speaking of Wheat

“I send my personal regards to all our Kansas Wheat Farmers here from South America. We will continue doing our best. I want them to know hard red winter is the most important class exported to our region. Today almost 10% of total U.S. wheat exports are coming to South America, and we know that there is a tremendous opportunity to continue developing markets for U.S. wheat farmers.” – U.S. Wheat Associates Regional Director, South America, Miguel Galdos, on the “Wheat’s On My Mind” podcast from Kansas Wheat.

October WASDE

USDA’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) for October for 2023/24 U.S. wheat this month is for higher supplies, increased domestic use, unchanged exports, and higher ending stocks.  Supplies are raised 85 million bushels. Exports remain at 700 million bushels with several offsetting by-class changes. Projected ending stocks are raised by 55 million bushels to 670 million, up 15% from last year. The global wheat outlook for 2023/24 is for reduced supplies, lower consumption, decreased trade, and lower stocks. Read the entire report here (link to:

Remembering M.S. Swaminathan

The crop scientist who invited American crop breeder Dr. Norman Borlaug to India and is considered the father of India’s Green Revolution died Sept. 28 and has been the subject of several remembrances. When receiving the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize Dr. Borlaug credited Dr. Swaminathan with seeing the potential of cross breeding with Mexican dwarf wheat varieties to ensure standability in the new, higher yielding wheat. In 1987, Dr. Swarminathan won the first World Food Prize established by Borlaug.

Borlaug Dialogue 2023

Offered in live and virtual format the week of Oct. 16 and 23, this event will focus this year on harnessing innovation, adaptation, and diversification to improve systemic resilience, recover from shocks, and sustainably nourish all people. Building on Borlaug’s legacy of tackling immense global challenges, this year’s Borlaug Dialogue will both acknowledge how far the world has come and how to make positive strides toward a food-secure future. Learn more here.

Do Yourself a Flavor!

The North Dakota Wheat Commission encourages everyone to celebrate National Pasta Month in October. The Commission has celebrated Pasta Month for decades as a way to recognize the state’s durum producers, mills, and pasta manufacturers and the role they play in putting pasta on the plates of consumers around the world.  Each year, a new theme is developed to celebrate the occasion.  This year’s theme is “Do Yourself a Flavor!” — an encouragement for consumers to enjoy their favorite pasta dish or try a new recipe.

Demonstrating Federal Wheat Inspection Value

USW Beijing and the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) held a seminar on U.S. wheat inspection and certification in Guangzhou, China, in September. Eighteen mills from across China sent 32 participants to the seminar conducted by FGIS grain marketing specialist Barry Gomoll and Shirley Lu, USW Country Director, China, and held at the Sino American Baking School. USDA Agricultural Trade Office Director JonAnn Flemings addressed the customers and emphasized the long-standing commitment to Chinese customers. Read more about the value of third party, objective U.S. wheat inspection 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.


News and Information from Around the Wheat Industry

Some will say that’s just how markets work. Russia is being rewarded because it’s the low-cost [wheat] producer, and U.S. farmers aren’t keeping up. I would argue Russia is not a market-based producer, but is politically using cheap wheat as a tool for advancing military goals that are dangerous to international trade and to the African nations Russia pretends to serve. As is often the case, this is a situation that goes beyond economic theory and is challenging the future of American agriculture and international trade.” – DTN Lead Analyst Todd Hultman. Read more here.

U.S. Competitiveness Increasing

USDA reported that U.S. wheat commercial sales for the week ending Sept. 21 for delivery in marketing year 2023/24 (June to May) were 544,500 metric tons. That volume is up 77% from the previous week and 51% from the prior 4-week average. Export inspections for the week ending Sept. 21 were 584,600 metric tons, a marketing year high. Read more here.

Vessel at port loading wheat to illustrate how dry bulk freight rates have declined.

More Rain for More Grain?

In a seasonal outlook, the National Weather Service said Sept. 21 that “drought improvement/removal is likely” in the central and southern Plains, the heart of hard winter wheat production, through the end of the year. The USDA said that 47% of winter wheat land is in drought at present, up 1 percentage point from last week, but it is 10 points lower than at this time in 2022. Read more here.

Most Americans Think They Should Increase Whole Grain Intake

The vast majority of American consumers (77%) say they think they should be choosing whole grains more often, according to a new survey from the Oldways Whole Grains Council. The 2023 Whole Grain Consumer Insights Survey suggested consumers are increasingly seeking whole grain foods for health benefits and because consumers see them as tasty and sustainable. Millennials are significantly more focused on the sustainability benefits of whole grains compared to other generations. Read more here.

Upcoming IGC International Milling Courses

Courses in this curriculum area at IGC International in Manhattan, Kan., cover all aspects of managing the flour milling process from grain selection to finished products. Courses will explore many areas including; technical milling, mill management practices, quality control, food safety, flowsheet design, process automation and controls, process efficiencies, hard and soft wheat milling, maintenance, and much more. Click here to see upcoming courses.

More Evidence of U.S. Farmer Stewardship

The USDA reported on Sept. 19 a record interest in conservation and clean energy programs one year after President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act was adopted. Over five years, the Act is funding almost $20 billion in Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon storage. The Inflation Reduction Act made nearly $20 billion available over five years for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to serve demand for popular conservation programs. Read more here.

To show the productive quality of soil

USDA Investment in Food for Progress

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the U.S. is investing $455 million to strengthen global food security and international capacity-building efforts. The investment will utilize more than 375,000 metric tons of U.S. commodities. The commodities in the Food for Progress program will be sold in local and regional markets and proceeds will help strengthen short- and long-term food security. The commodities in the McGovern-Dole program will go directly to hungry school children to help address hunger and promote education. Read more here.

Wheat Industry Represented on USDA Advisory Committees

USDA’s Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee (APAC) for Trade provides advice on the administration of U.S. trade policy. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) President Vince Peterson is an appointed member of APAC. The Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees (ATAC) offer technical advice and information about specific agricultural commodities and products to the Secretary of Agriculture. Wheat leaders serving on the ATAC for Trade in Grains, Feed, Oilseeds, and Planting Seeds are USW Vice president of Policy Dalton Henry, National Association of Wheat Growers Vice President of Policy and Communications Jacob Westlin, North Dakota Wheat Commission Administrator Neal Fisher, and USW Past President Ron Suppes of Dighton, Kan.

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.


During the week of Sept. 25-29, U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Alexis Taylor is leading an agribusiness trade mission to Chile. U.S. agribusinesses, including U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), are participating in business-to-business meetings with importers from both Chile and Peru.

The trade mission coincides with the USDA-endorsed Espacio Food and Service trade show, a major food show held in Santiago, Chile. USW joined several other U.S agricultural export promotional organizations in a USDA-SaborUSA Chile exhibit at the show. Under Secretary Taylor visited and offered remarks at the USW exhibit on Sept. 26. USW staff from the Santiago office shared these photos.

In the photo at the top of this page, USW Santiago Assistant Regional Director Osvaldo Seco and Program Coordinator Maria Fernanda Martinez show their pride in the USW exhibit with USW Baking Consultant Miguel Seguel.

Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Alexis Taylor (right) is welcomed to the USW section of the SaborUSA Chile exhibit by USW Santiago Regional Director Miguel Galdos.

Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Alexis Taylor (right) is welcomed to the USW section of the SaborUSA Chile exhibit by USW Santiago Regional Director Miguel Galdos.

Greetings from USDA

Under Secretary Taylor making remarks at the SaborUSA Chile exhibit on Sept. 26.

Under Secretary Taylor making remarks at the SaborUSA Chile exhibit on Sept. 26. Of her visit and the trade delegation she is leading, Taylor said, “As we celebrate the 200th anniversary of U.S.-Chile relations, I am honored to lead such an incredible group as we work with Chilean importers on expanding our bilateral trade even further.”

Quality Wheat, Exquisite Bread

Artisan bread baked by USW consultant Miguel Seguel to demonstrate the quality and versatility of flour milled from U.S. wheat classes

Artisan bread baked by USW consultant Miguel Seguel to demonstrate the quality and versatility of flour milled from U.S. wheat classes had a prominent place in the SaborUSA Chile exhibit at the Espacio Food and Service trade show.

Chile is a well-developed wheat food market with a variety of products available. In 2022, U.S. wheat imports were valued at more than $100 million. Chile is currently ranked among the top 10 U.S. wheat importing countries in marketing year 2023/24 (June to May). Chilean flour millers import U.S. hard red winter (HRW) and hard red spring (HRS) wheat classes to produce flour for bread consumption. The bread is produced mainly by small artisan bakeries, as well as commercial and supermarket bakeries. To serve a growing cookie and cracker demand, U.S. soft red winter (SRW) and soft white (SW) wheat is imported.

Read more about the Chilean market for U.S. agricultural products here.


Federal officials including U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack joined Washington state lawmakers and university leaders in early August for the groundbreaking of a new U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) Plant Sciences Building on the Washington State University (WSU) campus in Pullman.

ARS is USDA’s “in-house research agency” focused on delivering scientific solutions to national and global agricultural challenges. ARS conducts wheat quality research through four regional Wheat Quality Laboratories (WQLs) focused on wheat types commonly grown in its region, including the Western Wheat Quality Laboratory also located at WSU. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) has strong partnerships with each WQL as well as universities like WSU.

The new building at WSU is planned for opening in 2025. The WSU Plant Pathology, Crop and Soil Sciences, and Horticulture departments will inhabit the new building alongside federal scientists and four ARS research units: Wheat Health, Genetics and Quality; Grain Legume Genetics and Physiology; Northwest Sustainable Agroecosystems; and Plant Germplasm Introduction and Testing.

At the ground-breaking ceremony, more than 150 guests listened as speakers discussed the 20-year path to securing support for this new facility.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack at a podium with the USDA seal addressing participants in a ground breaking ceremony for a new ARS Plant Sciences Building at Washington State University (WSU).

U. S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. WSU Photo.

Secretary Vilsack asked attendees to think ahead to a future when the facility is completed, bustling with students, faculty, and researchers looking to solve the problems facing farmers in Washington and far beyond.

“There’s an effort to try to make sure that we understand how to deal with a particular disease that is impacting wheat production. And imagine the spark, the passion, the energy, the excitement that occurs when the solution is discovered. That’s what this facility is about, that moment of discovery,” he said.

Vilsack noted the new facility will not only be a place for discovery but also a resource that farmers both local and far afield of the Palouse will benefit from in the form of new techniques and greater insight into the vital work they do.

“To the extent that we have a university and a government research entity in partnership, ensuring that farmer, that rancher, that grower, that producer, can continue to be productive is an enormous opportunity for this country, and each one of us should be thankful at this groundbreaking for the science that’ll take place that’ll help these farmers, ranchers, and producers continue to productive,” Vilsack said.

Elizabeth Chilton, the inaugural chancellor of the WSU Pullman campus, noted that the groundbreaking represented much more than the beginning of a new research facility.

“It is evidence of the incredible partnership that WSU celebrates with USDA and our local, state, and federal legislators, commissioners, and communities,” Chilton said. “The groundbreaking research that this facility will support will literally change lives. This building will support faculty members, students, and researchers partnering together to create better crops and more sustainable farming practices so that we’re able to better feed our planet.”

Guests and dignitaries attending a ground breaking ceremony at Washington State University (WSU) for a new ARS Plant Sciences Building.

Washington Grain Commission Vice President Mary Palmer Sullivan (second from right) was among dignitaries and guests at the USDA-ARS Plant Sciences Building Groundbreaking ceremony on the campus of Washington State University Aug. 1, 2023. WSU Photo.

In addition to representatives from the federal government and Washington state agriculture groups (including Washington Grain Commission Vice President Mary Palmer Sullivan), WSU Board of Regents Chair Lisa Schauer and Regent Brent Blankenship, a Washington state wheat farmer and Past President of the National Association of Wheat Growers, also attended the events.

This article includes excerpts and photographs from an article in “WSU Insider” by RJ Wolcott. Read more here.


The June USDA reports on Acreage and Stocks, released on June 30, 2023, made a significant splash on grain markets after an already volatile week. With no new fundamentals to trade, wheat prices found little insulation from movements in corn and soybean markets. From June 21 to June 30, Chicago Board of Trade corn futures were down $1.14 on the week and CBOT Soft Red Winter wheat (SRW) futures were down $1.06. Minneapolis Grain Exchange (MGEX) Hard Red Spring (HRS) and Kansas City Board of Trade (KBOT) Hard Red Winter (HRW) futures dropped 63 cents and 75 cents, respectively.

Before Friday’s USDA reports, dryness in the U.S. Midwest, particularly in the Corn Belt, wreaked havoc on wheat and corn markets as corn conditions hovered at their lowest rating since 1988. Meanwhile, instability in wheat markets persists with on-going news from the conflict in the Black Sea.

June Acreage Report

The Acreage Report estimated the total U.S. wheat planted area at 49.6 million acres (ma) or 20.1 million hectares (mh), up 9% from 2022 but 300,000 acres less than the March estimates. The 2023/24 planted area still represents the largest planted area since 2016/17. Little changed from the March estimates with the winter wheat area projected at 37.0 ma (14.9 mh), up 11% from last year. The most significant increase occurred in the SRW wheat area as it registered a 17% increase from the year prior.

As discussed in previous articles, high prices in the fall of 2022 incentivized farmers to plant additional acres, and the USDA reports confirms that shift. New to the June report, the HRS area was forecast at 10.5 ma (4.2 mh), which is up 5% from the March estimates and 5% from 2022. Meanwhile, durum is predicted at 1.48 ma (0.6 mh), down 200,000 acres from the March estimates and 9% below 2022/23.

More Corn Than Expected


Statistics from USDA shows the volume of corn planted and harvested in the United States and the large increase in 2023.

U.S. corn planted area is expected to take an unusually large jump in 2023 according to a new report from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Corn and soybeans were arguably the largest surprise and the most significant contributor to Friday’s volatility. USDA forecast corn area at 94.1 ma (38.1 mh), which would be the third highest area on record, and is up from 88.6 ma (35.9 mh). The USDA NASS map at the top of this page shows an estimate of how many acres of corn are planted in each state and the percentage change from 2022. Soybean area was down 5% on the year and below trade estimates, coming in at 83.5 ma (33.8 mh).

The USDA estimates for the soybean area were nearly 5.0 MMT below the average trade estimates, sending a shockwave through commodity markets. The market reacts relative to how much the estimates deviate from the trade expectations. Source: Acreage, Grain Stocks, and Rice Stocks – Agricultural Statistics Board Briefing.

The impact of the USDA Acreage report released June 30 was bullish for soybeans, bearish for corn, and varied for wheat. That day, July 2023 CBOT SRW futures closed down 97 cents on the week at $6.36/bu. KCBT HRW futures were down 58 cents, at $8.01/bu. MGEX HRS futures were down 63 cents at $8.02/bu. CBOT corn futures were down 76 cents at $5.55/bu. CBOT soybean futures were up 63 cents, at $15.57/bu.

Quarterly Grains Stocks Report

The June Grain Stocks Report, published on June 30, USDA estimates that old crop wheat stocks are down 17% from 2022 at 15.8 MMT. On-farm stocks are 3.4 MMT, up 34% from 2022 but 22% below the five-year average. The larger on-farm stocks indicate that farmers hold a larger share of the wheat crop than years prior. Meanwhile, off-farm wheat stocks are down 25% at 12.4 MMT.

Key Takeaways

The week’s volatility and the impact of the reports demonstrate persistent risks in the current wheat market and the ever-present influence of the weather. As the crop year progresses, it is crucial to keep a watchful eye on corn and soybean markets, as fundamentals in these markets can have consequences on the wheat market. Likewise, as the harvest pace ramps up and more information about the new crop becomes available, markets will begin to price in the availability of the supply, anticipated demand, and quality of the year’s crop.

Line chart from USDA reports show the relationships between U.S. wheat, corn, and soybeans planted area over time.

USDA forecast corn area at 94.1 ma (38.1 mh), the third highest area on record, while the soybean area was down 5% on the year and below trade estimates, coming in at 83.5 ma (33.8 mh). The soybean area declined for the first time in three years. Corn and soybeans compete directly for space, so the sharp increase in corn plantings cut into the soybean area. Source: USDA Grains Stocks Report.

Stay current on the 2023 wheat harvest via the U.S. Wheat Associates Harvest Reports and market moving factors in the weekly Price Report.


In this article, originally published during U.S. Wheat Associates’ 40th anniversary in 2020, Wheat Letter describes the highly successful public-private partnership supporting U.S. wheat export market development that has endured since the 1950s.

The proper role of government…is that of partner with the farmer – never his master. By every possible means we must develop and promote that partnership – to the end that agriculture may continue to be a sound, enduring foundation for our economy and that farm living may be a profitable and satisfying experience. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, from a message to Congress on agriculture, Jan. 9, 1956.

In 2020, Wheat Letter offered historical perspective on how changes in federal programs, global market factors and relationships drew Western Wheat Associates and Great Plains Wheat Market Development Association ever closer together and led to the establishment of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) as a single export market development organization to serve all U.S. wheat farmers.

A formal agreement between the Nebraska Wheat Commission and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) to co-fund and implement export market development activities in 1958 marked the beginning of an enduring partnership between farmers, state wheat commissions, FAS and USW after the merger in 1980.

“I consider this to be one of the most successful partnerships between a U.S. government agency and private industry,” said USW President Vince Peterson. “Each partner brings unique core capabilities that support the export development mission. Our activities are jointly planned, funded and evaluated. We all share the risks, responsibilities and results.”

It Starts with the Farmer

State wheat commissions exist under state law generally to conduct promotion and market development through research, education and information. Commissions are funded by assessments paid by the farmer either by bushel or by a portion of the price at the time of sale. This is called a “checkoff” and though it is voluntary, a strong majority of farmers contribute their assessment. Farmer commissioners, either elected by their peers or appointed by their state’s governor, direct how the checkoff funds are to be used, such as for domestic promotion, public crop production research and variety development and export market development.

In 2017, Ralph Bean, who was then Agricultural Counselor, USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, U.S. Embassy Manila (far right), met with farmers from South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana during their USW Board Team visit to South Asia . The farmers were guests of honor at the 9th International Exhibition on Bakery, Confectionary and Foodservice Equipment and Supplies, known as “Bakery Fair 2017,” hosted by the Filipino-Chinese Bakery Association Inc.

By agreeing to contribute a portion of checkoff funds to USW for export market development, state wheat commissions choose to become members of USW. The annual USW membership assessment is about $0.004 per bushel, multiplied by the average production in the state over the past five years. Currently 17 state wheat commissions are USW members.

The contributions from state wheat commissions, including special project funds as well as the personal time and talent invested by farmers and U.S. wheat supply chain participants, supports the USW mission to develop, maintain and expand international markets to enhance wheat’s profitability for U.S. wheat producers and its value for their customers. In addition, state commission contributions qualify USW to apply for federal export market development funds administered by FAS.

Linking U.S. Agriculture to the World

USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service has primary responsibility for overseas programs including market development, international trade agreements and negotiations, and the collection of statistics and market information. It also administers the USDA’s export credit guarantee and food aid programs and helps increase income and food availability in developing nations by mobilizing expertise for agriculturally led economic growth. The FAS mission is to link U.S. agriculture to the world to enhance export opportunities and global food security.

Jim Higgiston (left), who was then USDA/FAS Minister Counselor for Agricultural Affairs, met with Regional Director Chad Weigand (right) and farmer members of a USW Board Team in September 2018 in the capital city of Pretoria, South Africa. The FAS team in Pretoria included Kyle Bonsu, Agricultural Attache, Laura Geller, Senior Agricultural Attache, and Dirk Esterhuizen, Senior Agricultural Specialist.

FAS export market development programs available to USW as a cooperating organization include the Market Access Program (MAP), the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program, the Agricultural Trade Promotion program and the Quality Samples Program. USW is required to conduct an extensive, annual strategic planning process that carefully examines every market, identifying opportunities for export growth and recognizing trends or policies that could threaten existing or prospective markets. FAS reviews this annual plan, the Unified Export Strategy (UES), results from previous years and private commitments to determine how USW will invest program funds. In 2022/23, federal funding provided $2.20 for every $1.00 contributed by farmers through their state wheat commissions.

“It is important that [overseas] buyers and government officials develop direct personal relationships not only with us at USDA but also directly with American farmers and ranchers,” said former USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney in testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry in June 2019.

In 2017, Jeffery Albanese (pictured back row with hat), who was then Agricultural Attaché, USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, U.S. Embassy Manila, joined aUSW Board Team, with farmers from South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana, and USW staff,  for a tour of San Miguel Mill, Inc. in the Philippines.

USDA in general and FAS specifically foster such relationships by acting as strategic partners with USW through the extensive FAS network of foreign service officers serving in 98 offices around the world and its civil service support in the United States. The foreign service officers provide vital liaison with government officials and are active in market development work. The civil service likewise plays a critical role in everything from supporting the foreign service, managing the relationships with organizations like USW, providing market information, analyzing trade policy barriers, and much more.

FAS programs make it possible for wheat farmers to have representatives from USW who work directly with overseas wheat buyers, flour millers and wheat food processors and translate customer needs directly back to the state wheat organizations, who are in turn helping direct research for wheat crop development in their states. This leads to improved varieties and helps farmers manage their crops with the end user in mind, who would otherwise be thousands of miles and multiple steps apart in the supply chain.

A team of U.S. wheat farmers from Kansas, Oklahoma and Arizona bound for trade visits to customers in Nigeria and South Africa met in September 2016 with then USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney (center) and other FAS staff in Washington, D.C.