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By Steve Mercer, USW Vice President of Communications

Throughout 2020, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) marked its 40th year by recognizing and celebrating the people who produce the wheat and their enduring partnerships with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the world’s wheat buyers and wheat food processors.

Our communications effort this year has focused on re-telling the USW story—that behind the world’s most reliable supply of wheat are the world’s most dependable people. That despite the different roles or distances, all the people in our story share an unspoken connection through USW and through our shared values of growth, hard work and family. We invite you to revisit our “Stories from the Wheat Farm” featured this year:

The Next Generation in Kansas
Loving the Work in Ohio
Committed to Stewardship in Washington
Living with Purpose in North Dakota
A Passion for the Land in Oklahoma
Committed to Wheat Quality in Oregon
Embracing the Agricultural Lifestyle in Montana

Throughout the year, we gathered historical information about how previous generations of U.S. farm families organized, invested their time, talent and treasure and reached out to the federal government to build overseas markets for their wheat. Those stories are now archived on our website at:

Western Wheat Associates Develops Asian Markets
Great Plains Wheat Focused on Improving Quality and HRW Markets
Evolution of a Public-Private Partnership
The U.S. Wheat Export Public-Private Partnership Today
NAWG – USW Lead the Way Through Issues Affecting Wheat Farmers
Federal Agency Helps Keep the Wheat Moving

We have emphasized past and present connections between our farmers and customers through our Wheat Letter blog and in Facebook and Twitter posts.

Celebrating Farmer Commitment and Global Partnerships in USW’s 40th Year
U.S. Wheat Farmers and Their Overseas Customers Share Unique Connections
Taiwan Flour Millers Share a Long History with U.S. Wheat Farmers – Part One
Taiwan Flour Millers Share a Long History with U.S. Wheat Farmers – Part Two
National Milling Federations Congratulates U.S. Wheat Associates on 40 Years
Retired Washington Wheat Farmer Reflects on Traveling with U.S. Wheat Associates as Chairman
Nisshin Flour Milling, Inc., Congratulates U.S. Wheat Associates on 40 Years
U.S. Wheat Customers Share History, Values and More with U.S. Wheat Farmers
U.S. Wheat Farmers and Former Staff Have Formed Strong Bonds with U.S. Wheat Customers

In this anniversary year, USW put a spotlight on USW’s 17 state wheat commission members that work closely with our organization and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Those organizations and the rest of the efficient U.S. supply chain share in the challenges and rewards of wheat trade. You can read more by searching “Dependable People” at www.uswheat.org.

The legacy and these partnerships provide advantages USW believes no other wheat exporting country can provide. In many ways, the stories we shared this year built and sustain the culture of the USW organization. They underpin what the U.S. wheat “brand” stands for in the world wheat marketplace: Dependable People, Reliable Wheat.

As we look back on this special year for our organization, we hope that it will serve as a resource and inspiration as USW colleagues continue working in the new year, and for many more years, to help create even greater success for U.S. farmers and their overseas customers.

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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.


JOE ANDERSON

Idaho Wheat Farmer
USW Board of Directors

“[Former] Idaho Wheat Commission (IWC) Executive Director Blaine Jacobson thinks I have a knack for building rapport with trade teams. One of those USW teams visiting our farm in July 2018 included Kevin Widjaja with Cerestar Flour Mills from Indonesia. We showed how we select varieties and maintain wheat quality. Then on a USW Board Team in February 2019 I reconnected with Kevin at Cerestar’s mill near Jakarta. It was great to build a lasting relationship with this wheat buyer in a country that is importing more wheat every year.”

JASON SCOTT
Maryland Wheat Farmer
2016-17 USW Chairman

In 2019, Andres Cabrerizio with Alicorp came to our farm in a trade delegation from Peru. Later that year I was in Lima as part of the USW Crop Quality team and visited Andres at his office where we enjoyed some of Alicorp’s branded cookies. We both look forward to the next chance to meet. I think that the customers really appreciate farmers getting out to their mills and offices around the world. The relationships you build, putting a name and face on the wheat that they are purchasing, are so important.

BOB DRYNAN
Great Plains Wheat 1974-1980
California Wheat Commission 1982-1993
Wheat Marketing Center 1993-1999

“U.S. Wheat Associates and its legacy organizations have matured over the years. I was the first foreign based flour miller to join the ranks and I brought the buyers’ point of view into the equation. Since that time focusing on the buyers’ needs has had a big impact on wheat breeding goals, marketing approaches and even marketing methods and export procedures to a far more customer-oriented outlook.”

RON MAAS
Retired Nebraska Wheat Farmer
Nebraska Wheat Board staff

“In addition to farming with my son in Nebraska, I spent 28 years representing the U.S. wheat industry in Japan and the Philippines. It would require a sizeable book to share all the memories and advances in trade servicing that I witnessed on the staff of Western Wheat Associates. For example, I was present at a post-event social gathering when Japanese officials agreed to open their market to hard red winter wheat in addition to Western White and Dark Northern Spring, demonstrating the importance of developing close relationships that USW representatives continue to do today.”

TOM STROSCHEIN
Retired Idaho Wheat Farmer

“The relationships I made with overseas buyers were important to support U.S. wheat export promotion. One year, I was at a golf outing hosted by the Idaho Wheat Commission for visiting Korean flour millers when a fox stole the one of the delegate’s ball! They had fun teasing him about that. So, when I knew I would see that miller in Korea on a trade mission, I brought him a stuffed fox with a golf ball in its mouth. He said it was one of the nicest gifts he’d ever received and kept it displayed in his office.”

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

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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.


MARIA FERNANDA RODRIGUEZ PAZ
Business Development Manager, Molinos Modernos, Guatemala

“Molinos Modernos is part of the Food Products division of Corporación Multi Inversiones, a fourth-generation family enterprise present in several Latin American countries with more than 90 years of history. Our corporate values are embodied in the acronym REIR, which in Spanish means “to laugh”, and also stands for Responsibility, Excellence, Integrity and Respect, reminding us daily of the importance of “always being happy at work” as our founder Juan Bautista Gutierrez (Don Juanito) used to say. We believe in the value of the family as a fundamental pillar and in our brand driving belief of “filling the world with wellness” through our products. Over the last 20 years, our personnel have been a part of several trips to the United States with USW, have hosted USW staff and have participated in specialized baking courses for our staff and clients. All these activities have impacted Molinos Modernos’ performance. We know and fully believe that the strategic alliance relationship with U.S. Wheat Associates is vital for the growth and development of our company and industry in the coming years.”

USW Baking Consultant Didier Rosada at the Cedecap, Molinos Modernos Guatemala’s training center, in a baking seminar for the Guatemalan baking industry.

GERMAN ZAPATA
Corporative Purchasing Manager, Grupo Nutresa
Colombia

“Grupo Nutresa sends U.S. Wheat Associates a very special greeting in the celebration of the 40th anniversary. Our staff has participated in USW trade missions, where all learning has been invaluable in the application of our products, and we participate in the Latin America Buyers Conference every two years, where we receive timely information for decision making and can share with experts. We’ve collaborated several times to produce crackers and other cookies with soft white wheat, and USW has also helped us work through several trade issues and to communicate the importance of importing U.S. wheat to the National Government of Colombia, benefiting the entire milling industry.”

Grupo Nutresa staff participating in a USW trade delegation to the United States in 2012.

CRISTOBAL BORDA
President of the Board, San Cristobal Mill
Chile

“Molinera San Cristobal S.A. is a large family that works in harmony and respect among its employees. Our history dates back to 1916 so we can proudly say that we have completed ‘a century of milling tradition.’ Today we have five wheat mills and a wheat storage plant. We know from experience that in order to develop a flour of excellence it is essential to have wheat of excellence. Our many visits to the United States with U.S. Wheat Associates have allowed us to learn from farmers, their seriousness and dedication to achieve the best possible wheat. One of the most outstanding activities has been the USW Chilean Trade Delegation Tour in 2009.”

USW Trade Delegation from Chile visits United Harvest Export facility in 2009.

ZHUBO LIN
Chairman, Xiamen Mingsui Grains & Oils Trading Co., Ltd.
China

“I started my wheat business with my wife in 1999 with 210 sacks of U.S. soft red winter wheat. From that time on, we have had close ties to U.S. wheat. In 2012, holding a USW seminar at our company encouraged us to promote and market our use of U.S. wheat with confidence. USW has since held more technical seminars and invited us on a company trade delegation to the Pacific Northwest and to participate in training there. We deeply love the grain trade in China that connects farmland and the dining table. It is traditional, but with new opportunities.”

Mingsui delegation visits the Pacific Northwest with USW in 2013.

FERNANDO ROBLES
Wheat Imports Manager, Grupo La Moderna
Mexico

“Grupo La Moderna began in 1920 and is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year with at least three generations of employees. This is my 27th year with the company and throughout my career, I’ve been inspired by the values our founder, Eduardo Monroy Cárdenas, left as a legacy: work, administration, good faith, loyalty and excellence. I’ve traveled with U.S. Wheat Associates several times, including for the Latin American Wheat Buyers Conference. USW staff have always supported us in resolving our concerns and we have developed excellent bonds of friendship. I also have very fond memories of the excellent attention while visiting Mike and Diana O’Hara at the O’Hara Farm in Montana.”

Fernando Robles in Montana with USW in 2019.

DONG-CHAN BAE
Manager, Samyang Corp.
Korea

“One of the most valuable experiences in my life is the close friendships made with USW staff and in the U.S. wheat industry. Thanks to USW, I’ve met so many U.S. farmers who always welcome our delegation with the warmest hospitality. The annual USW Crop Quality Seminar helps me better understand the global wheat market and about wheat and flour quality. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to USW and congratulations on their 40th anniversary. I wish USW and U.S. farmers much prosperity and success forever.”

Dong-Chan Bae visiting with U.S. wheat farmers in 1998.

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

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U.S. wheat farm families grow six distinct classes of wheat across the diverse landscape of the United States. Those farmers take great care in producing the highest quality wheat in the most sustainable ways possible to honor their family legacies and to ensure greater value for their customers at home and abroad. Behind the world’s most reliable supply of wheat are the world’s most dependable people.


Hucke Farms: Angie and Will Hucke are third generation farmers and ranchers from Geraldine, about 40 miles (65 km) east of Great Falls in Montana’s “Golden Triangle,” where they grow winter wheat, spring wheat, hay barley and occasionally rotate in yellow peas. Previously, Angie had a corporate job and opted to leave that lifestyle to return to the family farm. Part of returning to the family farm meant being involved in their community and raising their son, Arrow (11) and daughter, Jetta (9) in an environment where they learn about “hard work, taking pride in a job well down and learning that work can be fun.” This year, Arrow drove the grain cart – his first time helping with harvest, and it was clear how excited and proud he was. Both are very involved in 4-H, rodeo and helping with chores on the farm.

Location: Geraldine, Mont.
Classes of Wheat Grown:  Hard Red Winter (HRW) and Hard Red Spring (HRS)
Leadership: Angie Hucke: President, Miss Rodeo Montana, Inc; Vice President, Geraldine Action Committee; emergency medical technician (EMT); and 4-H leader. Will Hucke: Captain, Geraldine Volunteer Fire Department; Board Member, Chouteau County Livestock Protective Association; high school girls basketball coach; and 4-H leader. Arrow Hucke: Vice President, Willing Workers 4-H Club; and Treasurer, Geraldine Middle School. Jetta Hucke: Reporter, Willing Workers 4H Club.


View other videos and stories in this series:

Stories from the Wheat Farm – The Next Generation in Kansas
Stories from the Wheat Farm – Loving the Work in Ohio
Stories from the Wheat Farm – Committed to Stewardship in Washington
Stories from the Wheat Farm – Living with Purpose in North Dakota
Stories from the Wheat Farm – A Passion for the Land in Oklahoma
Stories from the Wheat Farm – Committed to Wheat Quality in Oregon

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For 40 years, U.S. wheat farmers have supported U.S. Wheat Associates’ (USW) efforts to work directly with buyers and promote their six classes of wheat. Their contributions to state wheat commissions, who in turn contribute a portion of those funds to USW, qualifies USW to apply for export market development funds managed by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Currently, 17 state wheat commissions are USW members and this series highlights those partnerships and the work being done state-by-state to provide unmatched service. Behind the world’s most reliable supply of wheat are the world’s most dependable people – and that includes our state wheat commissions.


Member: Wyoming Wheat Marketing Commission
Member of USW since 1980

Location: Cheyenne, Wyo.
Classes of wheat grown: Hard Red Winter (HRW) and Hard Red Spring (HRS)

The Wyoming Wheat Marketing Commission (WYWMC) was established in 1975 with the goal to develop and maintain wheat markets around the globe. The WYWMC is also active in providing support and funding for wheat research, education and market development. The five-person board operates on a $1.75 cent-per-bushel checkoff which funds the activities promoted by the WYWMC, including its work with U.S. Wheat Associates. 

WYWMC Director Casey Madsen (right), Nebraska wheat farmer Kent Lorens (center) and Montana wheat farmer Al Klempel (left) admired milling equipment at Kenz Maroc in Casablanca, Morocco, as participants in a USW Board Team in 2019.

Why is export market development important to Wyoming wheat farmers and why do they continue to support USW and its activities?

Based on available information, about 60 percent of the wheat produced in Wyoming is exported. Being near rail crossroads, high-quality Wyoming HRW can move either south to Gulf ports and Mexico, or west to the Pacific Northwest ports. As global wheat production has changed, the opportunity to work with USW to increase sales in Asia and the west coast of South America is of vital importance to the continued success of wheat farmers in Wyoming and across the United States. 

WYWMC Director Casey Madsen (far right) and the 2019 USW Board Team participants visited family owned Harinas Polo flour mills in Barcelona, Spain. The mill produces more than 300 different flour and seed products.

How have Wyoming wheat farmers recently connected with overseas customers?

For several years, WYWMC members have taken part in overseas trade mission trips and have also participated in overseas buyers’ conferences. The opportunity to make connections with overseas customers by meeting with them face-to-face is invaluable. While current events have limited these opportunities, we joined USW and other state commissions in a virtual meeting with Colombian wheat customers earlier this summer. 

WYWMC Director Ken Tremain (right) visited  Groupe HM-owned Caribbean Milling in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, as a participant in a USW Board Team in 2017. Caribbean Milling is the newest mill in Haiti, and started importing U.S. hard red winter (HRW) in 2016.

What is happening lately in Wyoming that overseas customers should know about?

While Wyoming has a relatively small wheat production area compared to most other USW member states, our unique production issues compel us to conduct research for our high-altitude and short growing season. Wyoming is often the first to plant HRW, and often among the last to harvest. We look at experimental varieties from three neighboring states to produce wheat with higher end-use qualities for customers, while minimizing input costs so that Wyoming wheat farmers can remain profitable. We recently licensed a new variety from Colorado which will allow farmers in Wyoming to better address a new type of stripe rust, which periodically affects Wyoming wheat production.

The commission is also active in trade and domestic policy. We have actively engaged with U.S. government officials, including the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), to promote expansion of trade access and avoid market disruption due to tariff implementation, while remaining in close contact with our Congressional delegation to influence domestic production issues.

Learn more about the Wyoming Wheat Marketing Commission on its web page here.

WYWMC Director Ken Tremain and fellow USW Board Team participants visited a food market in Santiago, Chile, to see local wheat foods in 2017.

 

 

 

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U.S. wheat farm families grow six distinct classes of wheat across the diverse landscape of the United States. Those farmers take great care in producing the highest quality wheat in the most sustainable ways possible to honor their family legacies and to ensure greater value for their customers at home and abroad. Behind the world’s most reliable supply of wheat are the world’s most dependable people.


The Padget Family: Padget Ranches sits on the arid Columbia Plateau above the John Day River in Oregon, where Darren Padget’s family has farmed since 1910. Today, Darren farms with his wife Brenda and their son Logan, as well as his dad Dale, a retired wheat farmer who participated in his 68th wheat harvest in 2020. Their dryland wheat and summer fallow rotation currently produces registered and certified seed on 3,400 acres annually.

Location: Grass Valley, Ore.
Classes of Wheat Grown:  Soft White (SW)
Leadership: Darren Padget: 2020/21 Chairman, U.S. Wheat Associates; Commissioner, Oregon Wheat Commission; Past President, Oregon Wheat Growers League; Past Chair, National Association of Wheat Growers Research and Technology Committee; Past Officer, Mid-Columbia Producers Board of Directors.


View other videos and stories in this series:

Stories from the Wheat Farm – The Next Generation in Kansas
Stories from the Wheat Farm – Loving the Work in Ohio
Stories from the Wheat Farm – Committed to Stewardship in Washington
Stories from the Wheat Farm – Living with Purpose in North Dakota
Stories from the Wheat Farm – A Passion for the Land in Oklahoma

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For 40 years, U.S. wheat farmers have supported U.S. Wheat Associates’ (USW) efforts to work directly with buyers and promote their six classes of wheat. Their contributions to state wheat commissions, who in turn contribute a portion of those funds to USW, qualifies USW to apply for export market development funds managed by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Currently, 17 state wheat commissions are USW members and this series highlights those partnerships and the work being done state-by-state to provide unmatched service. Behind the world’s most reliable supply of wheat are the world’s most dependable people – and that includes our state wheat commissions.


Member: Texas Wheat Producers Board
Member of USW since 1980

Location: Amarillo, Tex.
Classes of wheat grown: Hard Red Winter (HRW) and Soft Red Winter (SRW)

The Texas Wheat Producers Board (TWPB) was established in 1971 to provide support and funding for wheat research, education and market development. The fifteen-person board, which operates on a two-cent-per-bushel checkoff fund, is committed to ensuring the competitiveness of Texas wheat in domestic and international markets. These goals are accomplished through unique partnerships with U.S. Wheat Associates, and Plains Grains, Inc. Current research shows that wheat growers receive a $23 dollar return for every dollar invested in overseas marketing efforts.

Jack Norman served on the Texas Wheat Producers Board for 30 years and attended many USW events in that time. In 1998, he traveled with USW to Morocco, Kenya and Egypt. Jack retired from the Texas Wheat board last year.

Why is export market development important to Texas wheat farmers and why do they continue to support USW and its activities?

More than 50 percent of the wheat produced in Texas is exported every year. The TWPB has made it a priority to develop and maintain strong relationships with overseas customers to ensure the profitability of high-quality Texas HRW and SRW wheat. We are uniquely located geographically. The ports along the Texas coast, most prominently the Port of Houston, move over one-third of the wheat exported by the United States. Our location is highly accessible for Mexico, the largest importer of Texas wheat and consistently one of the top importers of U.S. wheat overall. It is imperative to our mission that we work with USW to promote wheat, expand market access and maintain good relationships with overseas customers. We believe the work done by USW will not only help us achieve our goals but also create a better future for all wheat producers.

How have Texas wheat farmers recently connected with overseas customers?

TWPB members have a long history of taking part in overseas trade mission trips, as well as hosting international trade delegations in Texas, and we value the experiences built through meeting customers face-to-face. Although the global pandemic put on hold on these meetings, we have used virtual platforms to connect with vital markets. In June, we joined USW for a virtual meeting with African wheat buyers, providing background on how wheat is produced in Texas and sharing updates on the 2020 wheat harvest. In July, our staff participated in another virtual meeting with Chilean flour milling executives and worked with Colorado Wheat staff to give an overview of 2020 HRW wheat quality. Both these virtual meetings gave us the opportunity to discuss the importance of Texas in the wheat production cycle, from the development of new varieties to the export of grain from our ports, which will help carry out our mission to increase demand of Texas-grown wheat.

A USW Brazilian Trade Delegation in College Station, Texas, in 2019, after a tour of the Texas A&M wheat breeding and research labs.

What is happening lately in Texas that overseas customers should know about?

The TWPB has always put a major focus on research. Based on the feedback from overseas markets, we have invested in projects aimed at enhancing end-use quality in order to produce a product with more functionality for our customers. Last year, our state researchers released two new winter wheat varieties that performed well with fewer inputs, decreasing the financial burden on farmers, while demonstrating exceptional milling and baking characteristics. Because of this research, we can supply a high-quality wheat without impacting the cost.

The board has also been active in trade policy. We have actively engaged with U.S. government officials, including the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), to promote expansion of trade access and avoid market disruption due to tariff implementation. It is our priority to provide overseas customers with a high-quality wheat that is also affordable, and we will continue to work with USW to promote favorable trade agreements.

Learn more about the Texas Wheat Producers Board on its website here and on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

 

TWPB sponsored a Texas A&M AgriLife Research wheat breeder, Dr. Jackie Rudd, on his trip to the 2019 USW Breeders Team to Latin America. He attended in order to connect with buyers on their quality needs and he has implemented their feedback directly into the Texas breeding program.

In 2015, a delegation of Texas Wheat representatives, including current USW board member Ken Davis (middle), traveled to Cuba for a trade alliance meeting.

A 2018 USW Sub-Saharan African Trade Delegation in Houston at an export terminal elevator.

 

 

 

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U.S. wheat farm families grow six distinct classes of wheat across the diverse landscape of the United States. Those farmers take great care in producing the highest quality wheat in the most sustainable ways possible to honor their family legacies and to ensure greater value for their customers at home and abroad. Behind the world’s most reliable supply of wheat are the world’s most dependable people.


The Peters Family: Peters Farms is a family-owned operation that was started when Michael Peters’ great-great grandfather homesteaded a piece of land in central Oklahoma in the 1880s. Today, Michael farms with his father, Fred Peters, and his son Tyler. They grow hard red winter (HRW) wheat and graze cattle on some of that crop over the late fall and winter. Linda Peters, Michael’s wife, is a teacher and church musician who remains an active participant in the farm operations.

Location: Okarche, Okla.
Classes of Wheat Grown:  Hard Red Winter (HRW)
Leadership: Michael Peters: 2020/21 Secretary/Treasurer, U.S. Wheat Associates; Commissioner, Oklahoma Wheat Commission (OWC); Chair, USW Audit Committee; Past Chair, USW Wheat Quality Committee; member of the USW and National Association of Wheat Growers Joint International Trade Committee; Past President, St. John’s Lutheran Church; Past President, CHS Western Oklahoma Cooperative; member of Okarche Rural Fire Fighters’ Association Board.


View other videos and stories in this series:
Stories from the Wheat Farm – The Next Generation in Kansas
Stories from the Wheat Farm – Loving the Work in Ohio
Stories from the Wheat Farm – Committed to Stewardship in Washington
Stories from the Wheat Farm – Living with Purpose in North Dakota
Stories from the Wheat Farm – Committed to Wheat Quality in Oregon

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For 40 years, U.S. wheat farmers have supported U.S. Wheat Associates’ (USW) efforts to work directly with buyers and promote their six classes of wheat. Their contributions to state wheat commissions, who in turn contribute a portion of those funds to USW, qualifies USW to apply for export market development funds managed by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Currently, 17 state wheat commissions are USW members and this series highlights those partnerships and the work being done state-by-state to provide unmatched service. Behind the world’s most reliable supply of wheat are the world’s most dependable people – and that includes our state wheat commissions.


Member: South Dakota Wheat Commission
Member of USW since 1980

Location: Pierre, S.Dak.
Classes of wheat grown: Hard Red Winter (HRW) and Hard Red Spring (HRS)
USW Leadership: Milo Schanzenbach, 1983/84; Stanley Porch, 1994/95; Darrell Davis, 2012/13.

The South Dakota Wheat Commission (SDWC) was established in 1961 when the legislature passed the South Dakota Wheat Resources Act declaring it “the public policy of the state of South Dakota, by protecting and stabilizing the wheat industry and the economy of the areas producing wheat.” Its mission “to stabilize and improve South Dakota’s wheat industry through research, market development and education,” has grown the footprint of South Dakota wheat to over 100 countries around the world. Research has allowed farmers to produce high-quality, high yielding wheat that has enhanced the overall appeal of wheat grown in the Great Plains state.

Darrell Davis, 2012/13 USW Chairman and South Dakota wheat farmer at the 2012 USW Summer Board Meeting.

Why is export market development important to South Dakota wheat farmers and why do they continue to support USW and its activities?

South Dakota is historically the sixth largest U.S. wheat producing state. Production is nearly equally split between U.S. HRW and HRS wheat. Unfortunately, despite its production size, there are no flour mills in South Dakota, so every bushel of wheat produced must leave the state. The final destination of the wheat varies between domestic and global markets. Without a strong global market for high quality milling wheat, South Dakota wheat farmers would lack the competition that is necessary to also enhance the value of domestic sales. Collaboration with other wheat producing states, through a USW membership, greatly strengthens South Dakota’s global promotion and export opportunities.

2015 USW Nigerian Trade Delegation visit to South Dakota.

 

2019 Taiwan Goodwill Mission visiting South Dakota.

How have South Dakota wheat farmers recently connected with overseas customers?

South Dakota wheat farmers enjoyed hosting the Taiwan Flour Mills Association Goodwill Mission in 2019. It was a pleasure to once again jointly sign a Letter of Intent that confirms their desire for the procurement of high milling quality, U.S. wheat. A special fellowship develops in the opportunity to connect outstanding wheat farmers with outstanding global wheat customers. When health precautions prevented the visit of a Sub-Saharan Africa trade delegation to South Dakota in 2020, that opportunity for information exchange and a face-to-face experience was repackaged into a virtual visit. The virtual format provided exposure to an even larger group of customers than might be included in a normal trade delegation visit.

Ralph Bean, Agricultural Counselor, USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, U.S. Embassy Manila (far right), met with farmers from South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana during their trip to South Asia as a part of the 2017 USW Board team. Pictured second from the right is Clint Vanneman, South Dakota wheat farmer. 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.

 

1994/95 USW Chairman and South Dakota wheat farmer Stanley Porch (far left) hosted the 2015 USW Nigerian Trade Delegation on his farm and is pictured here with past USW Cape Town and Lagos staff, Gerald Theus (middle left) and Muyiwa Talabi (middle right), as well as 2012/13 USW Chairman and South Dakota wheat farmer Darrell Davis (far right).

What is happening lately in South Dakota that overseas customers should know about?

Recent wet climatic conditions have reduced the wheat acres seeded across South Dakota in recent years. Although acres were reduced, the 2020 harvest was phenomenal! A new state record was established for HRW wheat. Harvest results consistently revealed high yielding fields with desirable test weight and protein. Throughout the season, the wheat had strong straw strength with extremely limited disease challenges. Results from the 2020 HRS wheat harvest also showed strong yields, test weight and protein with limited disease challenges. The exceptional wheat harvested in South Dakota in 2020 will produce equally exceptional milling potential for our customers!

Learn more about the South Dakota Wheat Commission on its website here and on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Research by USW Communications Intern Dylan Davidson

U.S. farmers working hard to produce six distinct, high-quality classes of wheat must manage a multitude of risks to put bread on tables at home and across the globe. Beyond the agronomic and economic challenges, the decisions and policies of the U.S. government and international trade policy have affected wheat farm families for decades.

In April 1950, Clifford R. Hope was a U.S. Congressman from Garden City, Kan. He told wheat farmer leaders that “there are many questions that come before Congress that need answering by wheat-oriented people.” He was speaking to farmers meeting in Kansas City, Mo., who would go on to create the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) to represent the interests of wheat farmers with members of Congress. After leaving Congress, Hope was hired as the first president of Great Plains Wheat.

As U.S. wheat stocks piled up, the government created federally managed grain reserves and in 1954, with support from NAWG and state wheat associations, the U.S. Congress passed Public Law (PL) 480 to help expand exports of surplus agricultural products. This was a huge incentive to form commissions and, by 1960, to create Great Plains Wheat and Western Wheat Associates to promote U.S. wheat in designated countries under PL 480 and other commercial overseas markets. The final details of the merger that created U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) were developed on the sidelines of a NAWG conference in 1980.

Celebrating Together. Representatives of NAWG and the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers participated in the January 1959 opening of the first European office of Great Plains Wheat. At the office in Rotterdam, left to right: KAWG Vice President Ora Root of Garden City, Kan.; NAWG President Floyd Root, Wasco, Ore.; USDA/FAS Assistant Agricultural Attache Henry Baehr; and GPW/Rotterdam Director Harvey E. Bross.

In many ways, NAWG and USW have grown up together. In coalition with its state wheat associations, NAWG lobbies Capitol Hill and the Administration on behalf of U.S. wheat growers. USW works to develop and maintain export markets.  While their missions are different, they share a goal to work for the common good of U.S. wheat farm families.

Essential Organizations

“This is a positive relationship where each organization’s role helps the other,” said NAWG CEO Chandler Goule. “For instance, NAWG is able to lobby to Congress in an effort to create policies that improve the livelihoods of wheat farmers. USW cannot lobby members of Congress but does have the capabilities to promote wheat abroad, creating international markets where U.S. wheat farmers sell their crops. Both organizations are essential.”

As the wheat industry continued to develop domestically and abroad, both organizations continued evolving to meet farmer needs. As with any long-term partnership, the relationship at times proved challenging. Yet with the positive influence of the farmers who fund and direct each organization, NAWG and USW have worked through any issues to work more closely in representing the U.S. wheat industry.

“Working together means we can share resources and provide a better voice for our farmers and our customers abroad,” said Ron Suppes, Dighton, Kan., wheat farmers and the 2007/08 USW Chairman.

Kansans Ron Suppes (above, testifying on Capitol Hill on the crucial role of wheat in food aid programs) and John Thaemert established joint board meetings when they were leading USW and NAWG in 2007/08.

Meeting Together

As USW Chairman, Suppes worked with fellow Kansan and NAWG President John Thaemert to establish joint board meetings of the two organizations. Today, that effort has evolved into two joint board meetings each year and joint committees that evaluate and propose policies that cross over both U.S. government oversight and the NAWG and USW missions, such as trade policy, wheat breeding innovation, food aid and wheat quality.

Each committee includes four members of each organization and a chairman. The chairmanship of each committee rotates annually between the USW and NAWG to promote equal representation for each organization.

The Joint USW/NAWG International Trade Committee meets together two times each year to review trade policies that affect U.S. wheat farmers and their overseas customers.

“The committees are critical for both organizations,” said USW President Vince Peterson. “They really get into the details of policy issues and it is where some of the main collaboration between the two organizations happen.”

In Kenya, November 2019, representatives of NAWG and USW visited a refugee camp to observe direct donations of U.S. wheat by the World Food Programme. U.S. rice and sorghum organizations also participated in the visit to Kenya and Tanzania.

Policies developed in these joint committees and working groups are reviewed and approved by each organization’s full board of directors. Often, these policy positions are shared publicly through joint statements shared with domestic and international media, such as on trade agreements and wheat breeding innovation.

In addition, “every month, the top leaders of each organization get on a call to discuss our shared priorities,” said Dave Milligan, a wheat farmer from Cass City, Mich., and current President of NAWG. “I feel both organizations are realizing more and more that when we work together, we are able to move the wheat industry forward and make it prosperous.”

NAWG President Dave Milligan, a wheat farmer from Cass City, Mich.

“With shared trade issues, technological changes and economic stresses, there has never been a more important time for all wheat farmers in the country to work together,” said Darren Padget, a wheat farmer from Grass Valley, Ore., and current USW Chairman. “I am glad that our two organizations continue to lead the way, together.”

USW Chairman Darren Padget, a wheat farmer from Grass Valley, Ore.

 

Then NAWG President Wayne Hurst (center,  just right of Pres. Obama) and then USW Chairman Randy Suess (just right of Hurst) represented wheat growers at a reception celebrating the signing of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for workers, and the Korea, Panama and Colombia Free Trade Agreements, in the Rose Garden of the White House, Oct. 21, 2011. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.

 

NAWG President Ben Scholz (standing left) and USW President Vince Peterson (2nd from left) represented wheat farmers at the formal signing of the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement Oct. 7, 2019, as President Donald Trump and other representatives watch U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Lighthizer and Japanese Ambassador to the U.S., Shinsuke Sugiyama, do the honors. Official White House photo.


Read other stories in this series:

Western Wheat Associates Develops Asian Markets
Great Plains Wheat Focused on Improving Quality and HRW Markets
Evolution of a Public-Private Partnership
The U.S. Wheat Export Public-Private Partnership Today