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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: Colorado Wheat Administrative Committee
Member of USW since 1980

Location: Fort Collins, Colo.
Classes of wheat grown: Hard Red Winter (HRW) and Hard White (HW)
USW Leadership: Harrell Ridley, 1982/83; Ray Selbe, 1991/92

The Centennial State has a proud history of wheat farming that goes back to the state’s formation in 1876. Despite the rough topography and arid climate that Colorado is famous for, wheat is grown in more than 40 of its 64 counties, with more than two million acres of wheat on average planted in Colorado each year. The Colorado Wheat Administrative Committee (CWAC) is a producer-elected board whose goal is to help wheat farmers in the state produce, develop, maintain and increase domestic and export sales, consumption and utilization of Colorado Wheat, while also supporting education, research and promotional programs.

The Colorado Wheat Administrative Committee Board takes a picture before taking a tour of the National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation in Fort Collins, CO.

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

Roughly 80 percent of Colorado’s wheat crop is exported, and as one of Colorado’s top ranked exports, it averages $234 million in value each year, second only to beef exports. Hard red winter (HRW) and hard white (HW) wheat produced in Colorado is sought after in many of the world’s major wheat markets, including Mexico, Japan, Southeast Asia and Africa. This makes developing overseas markets a top priority. Colorado wheat farmers are devoted to producing a high-quality product for millers and bakers around the world. They recognize the value brought by USW staff living and working in these areas, promoting the quality of Colorado and U.S. wheat to these competitive markets.

Steve Beedy (R) on a USW board team trip to Asia in 2012.

How have Colorado wheat farmers recently connected with overseas customers?

Over the years, Colorado has hosted several USW trade delegations and has also sent several of its board members overseas. In the last nine years, Colorado has focused more on funding improved quality characteristics in public varieties than on trade missions, but we have continued to connect with overseas customers through representation by the USW overseas offices and continued board member involvement at national meetings. Most recently, CWAC Executive Director Brad Erker, took part in a virtual crop quality seminar with Chilean flour millers. During the seminar, he discussed the production conditions and quality of the U.S. HRW crop.

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

Colorado wheat farmers help fund the public wheat breeding program at Colorado State University (CSU) through a two cent per bushel assessment. Thanks to the help from Colorado farmers, the CSU wheat breeding program has built a reputation for success. The program has focused on developing varieties that not only are adapted to Colorado’s unique growing conditions, but also have excellent end use quality to meet the needs of millers and bakers. Varieties developed help with common issues the Colorado wheat farmer often faces. The Colorado Wheat Research Foundation (CWRF) and CWAC funded development of the CoAXium Wheat Production System, which helps farmers control winter annual grassy weeds in their fields and reduce dockage factors. The CWRF is licensing the technology to other breeding partners to help the entire production system be more efficient. The foundation also helped develop HW varieties with low polyphenol oxidase (PPO), which reduces browning in baked goods, a benefit in whole grain applications. A lot of attention is now turning to development of semi-solid varieties that resist the wheat stem sawfly, an emerging and devastating pest. Better genetic resistance to wheat stem sawfly will help Colorado farmers continue producing some of the highest quality wheat for customers around the world.

Learn more about the Colorado Wheat Administrative Committee on its website here and on Facebook and Twitter.

The CSU Wheat Breading team planting plots at the Agricultural Research, Development and Education Center (ARDEC) outside of Fort Collins, CO.

 

 

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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 Volk Family: Philip and Lisa Volk and their five children grow hard red spring (HRS) wheat on their family farm in North Dakota that was founded in 1942. Responsibilities are shared among them all, even their youngest who rides along with Mom or Dad during wheat harvest.

Location: York, N.D.
Classes of Wheat Grown:  Hard Red Spring (HRS)
Leadership: Philip Volk: Commissioner, North Dakota Wheat Commission (NDWC); USW Director; NDWC liaison to the Wheat Marketing Center; Chairman, SBARE Wheat Granting Committee.


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 – 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: Arizona Grain Research and Promotion Council
USW Member since 1987

Location: Phoenix, Ariz.
Classes of Wheat Grown: Durum
USW Leadership: Michael Edgar, 2008/09 Chairman

The Arizona Grain Research and Promotion Council utilizes grower check-off funds to aid in marketing for wheat and barley, to participate in research projects and other programs to assist in reducing freshwater consumption, to develop new grain varieties and to improve grain production, harvesting and handling methods. The Council is made up of seven Arizona grain producers appointed by the Governor.

Arizona farmers were growing durum wheat widely in the decades before 1980. As improved varieties were developed to provide consistently excellent semolina for fine quality pasta, growers identified an opportunity to promote their durum overseas. After the AGRPC was authorized by the state legislature in 1985, representatives attended a U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) meeting in 1986 and joined USW in January 1987.

Today, Arizona growers work with USW to promote Desert Durum®, an identity protected by a legal certification mark and owned jointly by the AGRPC and the California Wheat Commission. Desert Durum® is grown only under irrigation in the desert valleys and lowlands of Arizona and California.

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

Arizona’s growers are very favorably leveraged by USW’s promotional efforts around the world. Arizona’s growers receive just as much respect from USW and its export promotional programs as do its large wheat-producing members. This has been the case for 33 years and counting.

About half of the annual production of Desert Durum® (Arizona and California combined) has been exported for many years, with Italy as the perennial leading export destination, followed by Nigeria. One reason for Italy’s continued purchase of Desert Durum® is that Italian pasta makers value the consistent semolina quality of Desert Durum® and are willing to pay more for its grain than for durum from other origins.

USW assists its members in numerous ways to educate growers and the public about the importance and role of wheat production and export in their states. Some of the means of providing such assistance include arranging board teams of state representatives to visit existing and potential importing countries and organizing trade teams of foreign customer representatives to visit U.S. wheat class production regions. USW members greatly appreciate these opportunities to promote their wheat classes for both export domestic audiences.

USW also publishes annual crop quality reports that characterize both Northern durum and Desert Durum® separately. This distinction allows potential customers to verify the uniform large kernel size, low moisture content, and other grain and processing traits of Desert Durum® that produce very desirable semolina quality.

How have Arizona wheat farmers recently connected with overseas customers?

One member of AGRPC has integrated export market development work through USW into his company’s efforts to provide customers with high quality grains for Identity Preserved markets. Michael Edgar, President of Barkley Seeds, Yuma, Ariz., for more than 30 years has participated in several overseas trade missions organized by USW, including his engagement in a trip to Morocco, Italy and Israel in 2016 to promote Desert Durum® and other U.S. wheat classes. Edgar served as an officer with USW including as its Chair in 2008/09.

AGRPC member Michael Edgar has worked for more than 30 years with USW to promote exports of Desert Durum® and all U.S. wheat classes. Here Edgar (right) accepts the USW Chairman’s gavel in 2008 from outgoing Chairman Ron Suppes, a Kansas Wheat commission member and farmer.

Edgar (second from left) joined other farmer directors of USW on a trade mission to Italy, Morocco and Israel in 2016.

AGRPC member Eric Wilkey has traveled to Latin America with a USW board team, joined by growers from Montana and Oklahoma. He learned that the excellent quality of Desert Durum® is recognized by pasta makers in that region.

Arizona and grower members of AGRPC have also been privileged to entertain numerous USW trade teams from most of the regions that have traveled to the U.S. to learn about the country’s durum producers and their production efforts.

AGRPC member Eric Wilkey joined growers from Montana and Oklahoma on a USW trade team to Latin America.

In 2012, Wilkey described the nature of the Desert Durum® industry to members of Group FORAFRIC, a Moroccan milling firm, who made a self-sponsored visit to Arizona and California, facilitated by USW, to investigate the production and purchase of Desert Durum®.

What is happened lately in Arizona that overseas customers should know about?

Arizona hosts several private breeding programs that focus intensely on the varietal traits desired by local wheat growers, such as yield, standability and pest resistance, as well as the quality traits that pasta manufacturing customers covet, including bright amber color, strong gluten strength and high falling number.

Here is a wheat breeding nursery like those maintained by each of the private breeding enterprises in Arizona, which has no publicly supported wheat breeding program. AGRPC does support grain production research conducted by the University of Arizona.

AGRPC recently commissioned a University of Arizona study that reviewed a wide range of literature related to water use by irrigated grain production in a desert environment. The paper concluded that Arizona’s durum wheat production, as currently practiced, has a water footprint that is lower, to much lower, than evidenced in many other durum production regions.

Learn more about the Arizona Grain Research and Promotion Council on its website here and on Facebook.

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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 Bailey Family and LM Farms: After starting his career at a major farm lending institution, Gary Bailey left to join his family’s farm full-time in 1989, working alongside his parents and two brothers. He wanted to be a part of the legacy that his parents started and to give his children the same kind of upbringing that he had. Today, Gary works the farm’s 4,500 acres alongside his brother Mark and his niece Erin, the next generation.

Location: St. John, Washington (Whitman County)
Classes of Wheat Grown:  Soft White (SW); White Club
Leadership: Gary Bailey: Chairman, Washington Grain Commission; USW Director; Director, St. John Grain Growers (Whitgro); Local Advisory Committee, Northwest Farm Credit Services; Member, Washington State University Land Legacy Committee; and Director, St. John Telco.

 


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 – 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: Nebraska Wheat Board
USW Member since 1980

Location: Lincoln, Neb.
Classes of wheat grown: 
Hard Red Winter (HRW), Hard White (HW), Hard Red Spring (HRS)
USW Leadership: Ervain J. Friehe, 1986/97 Chairman; Daniel Gerdes 1997/98 Chairman; Dan Hughes, 2013/14 Chairman.

The mission of the Nebraska Wheat Board is to increase both domestic and foreign consumption of wheat and wheat food products through marketing and research, as well as to help develop and maintain both domestic and international export markets for the Nebraska wheat producer. The Nebraska Wheat Board will accomplish this by investing the wheat check-off in research, international and domestic marketing, policy development, publicity and education. The Nebraska Wheat Board was one of the first state wheat commissions in existence. The Board has paved the way for trade delegations, international baking schools, national policy reform and the establishment of USW. Today, Nebraska Wheat continues to improve research, influence international and domestic trade policy and promote the wheat crop through education and consumer outreach. This year, the Nebraska Wheat Board celebrates 65 years and would like to thank all of our domestic and international customers for their continued support.

2014/15 USW Officers, including Past Chairman Dan Hughes, seated left.

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

Of the wheat produced in Nebraska each year, 50 percent is exported through the Pacific Northwest or the Gulf of Mexico or by rail to Mexico. Nebraska hosts one to two USW trade delegations each year from all over the world. Through these trade delegations, U.S. wheat customers can see how the crop is produced in a healthy, sustainable way. Likewise, the farmers learn what their customers want and how they can adopt practices to meet the growing demand. USW is at the forefront of overseas development. The network of people that promote USW is vast and their enthusiasm for promoting U.S.wheat continues to develop markets for our farmers’ product. With so much of our wheat reaching overseas customers, it is extremely important for Nebraska’s wheat farmers to support USW’s export market development.

How have Nebraska wheat farmers recently interacted with overseas customers?

Even though these unprecedented times have limited travel and canceled conferences, Nebraska Wheat has put international relations as our top priority. In place of hosting trade delegations, the Nebraska Wheat team is producing video of locations in the state that each delegation would typically visit. From highlighting the research done at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln (UNL), witnessing how grain is inspected at the elevators, and capturing the beauty of wheat harvest across the state. Nebraska Wheat Board members look forward to sharing these videos around the world and then visiting with customers to answer questions after they have “visited” each tour stop. Along with these videos, each week the Nebraska Wheat office sends reports to international offices and past trade delegation visitors to keep them updated on Nebraska wheat progress.

A 2017 USW Regional African Trade Delegation visited Bob Delsing’s farm in Nebraska. Delsing is currently a director on USW’s board.

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

  • UNL wheat breeder Dr. Stephen Baenziger was recently awarded a $650,000 grant for hybrid wheat research.
  • USDA recently announced that it is hiring an additional small grains geneticist to be located at UNL to focus on Fusarium head blight research.
  • Harkamal Walia, UNL Associate Professor, discovered a gene from wild wheat that has the potential to improve drought tolerance in cultivated wheat.
  • There has been a resurgence of HRS wheat being grown in Nebraska. Currently, producers in the state grow HRW, HW and HRS.

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

Kent Lorens, a wheat farmer from Nebraska (middle) participated on the 2019 board team to Spain, Portugal and Morocco. He’s pictured here with farmers from Montana and Wyoming at Institut de Formation de l’Indstrie Meunière (IFIM) in Morocco, while touring the training mill, where the team saw equipment sponsored by U.S. Wheat Associates. Read more about his experience here.

Nebraska Wheat Board Executive Director Royce Schaneman at the 2020 USW Winter Board Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Four generations of Nodlinski’s (from 3 years old to 102) stand for a picture during the 2020 wheat harvest on the 4th of July on their family farm in Perkins County. The Nebraska Wheat Board publishes weekly crop updates here.

2013/14 Chairman Dan Hughes, a wheat farmer from Nebraska (L) congrats 2014/15 Chairman Roy Motter, a wheat farmer from California (R) on his year of service.

2013/14 Chairman, Dan Hughes and his wife Josie.

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Reprinted with Permission from Agweek, July 10, 2020, by Katie Pinke. 

Wheat acreage in 2020 is the lowest since records began in 1919, another year marked by a global pandemic.

I read and then heard the AgweekTV report that the 44.3 million acres of planted wheat acres in 2020 are the lowest since records started being kept in 1919, according to the June U.S. Department of Agriculture acreage report. As a wheat farmer’s daughter who currently lives and works where five generations have farmed, the year 1919 flashed before me. I thought of what and who was on the farm then.

1919. The second year of a global health pandemic, a flu impacting a third of the world’s population, more than 500 million people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mortality was higher in children ages 5 and under, ages 20-40 and 65 years or older. You can walk rural cemeteries to see the impact of the flu pandemic of 1918-19 and know it impacted your ancestors and their communities.

Wheat harvest in North Dakota, circa 1919.

1919 was also the timeframe my great-grandfather, Oscar Huso Sr., had completed the building of a large new farmhouse for his wife, Joyce, and she was expecting their first child. The family stories that have been passed down to me were that Joyce became sick with the flu that killed an estimated 675,000 Americans. The baby Joyce was carrying died.

In the “Yesteryears” of the local Aneta (N.D.) Star July 2, 2020, edition it reads that my great-grandfather and his wife have the sympathy of the community in the loss of their infant daughter. Funeral services were held. She was buried at the local cemetery. “Mrs. Huso, who has been quite ill, is recovering very nicely.”

Except, Joyce didn’t recover. She remained sickly, and in 1922, she died. I was told the residual effects of the flu held on. She lost two babies and then eventually weakness and sickness took her life. She was about 30 years old. My great-grandfather was about 38 years old.

I know he planted wheat and kept farming, alone, in the five-bedroom farmhouse he built for his late wife and children he never raised.

I think of my great-grandfather who I never met and the brokenness he felt in those years. I connect those feelings to the silent suffering millions are experiencing now through a different but somewhat similar global health pandemic.

And here I am, on the farm where my great-grandpa grieved.

Not far from the farm Joyce grew up on was a single woman in her 30s, Signa, farming and living with her mother. Signa certainly was not thinking marriage or children were in her future, I imagine. But Oscar Sr. came courting and calling to the same area, only this time his love was Signa. He asked for her hand in marriage, presenting her with a platinum diamond ring, and in 1924 they were married.

Signa gave birth to my grandfather, Oscar Jr., in the five-bedroom farmhouse in 1925. The story my grandpa told me as a child was his father had a fear of pregnancies and hospitals, so even though area communities had local hospitals for childbirth by the 1920s, he was born at home, on the farm.

My grandpa wasn’t eating and thriving after being born. Signa’s Norweigian immigrant mother, Kirsti, an area midwife and widowed farmer, came to help. Kirsti fed my infant grandfather a milk mush on a rag to help him along in his early days of life. It worked. Oscar Sr. and his wife Signa raised my grandfather and his two sisters on the farm, realizing his long-awaited family dreams.

My grandpa lived almost all of his lifetime on the farm, minus his years of military service and college. His wife, Nola, my grandmother, remains living in the farmhouse built during the pandemic of 1918-19.

While I am told Signa never spoke of Joyce, a painting of Joyce’s always remained hung on a living room wall. My grandmother said he knows Oscar Sr. and Joyce’s wedding photos are in the house, and she’s going to find them for me. My great-great-aunt Iris, one of the oldest living Americans at age 114, has told me in past years Joyce was her first-grade teacher and remains the most beautiful woman she’s ever seen.

Katie Pinke and the next generation of her family visited Silent Hill Cemetery, rural Aneta, N.D. to find the gravestones talked about through family stories. (Katie Pinke/Agweek)

I drove to the rural cemetery this week with my daughters, niece and nephew, walking to Joyce’s gravestone, which is placed next to the one engraved with “Baby 1919 and Baby 1920.” Life on our family farm wouldn’t look like it does today if Joyce lived a long, full life. I paid my respects, explaining to the kids the details I’ve been told of the loss and family farm connection they have to her and the babies.

Then we passed green fields of wheat as we drove back to the farm, just down the road from where Oscar Sr.’s original farmhouse stands tall. We’re better off today in a global health pandemic than Oscar Sr. and Joyce were in 1919. I am a grateful wheat farmer’s daughter. I hope in another century our future generations look back at our world and see how we worked to improve it for all for them. And I hope that despite farming changes and progress, wheat remains growing in farm fields.

Pinke is the publisher and general manager of Agweek. She can be reached at kpinke@agweek.com, or connect with her on Twitter @katpinke.

 

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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: Montana Wheat and Barley Committee
Member of USW since 1980

Location: Great Falls, Mont.
Classes of wheat grown: Hard Red Winter (HRW), Hard Red Spring (HRS), Durum
USW Leadership:  James E. Jenks, 1984/85 Chairman; Richard Sampsen, 1995/96 Chairman; Leonard Schock, 2006/07 Chairman; Janice Mattson, 2009/10 Chairperson; Chris Kolstad, 2018/19 Chairman.

The mission of the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee (MWBC) is to protect and foster the health and prosperity of the Montana wheat and barley industry by encouraging scientific research to improve production and quality; maintaining current markets; promoting new market development; and serving as an educational and informational resource.

2018/19 Chairman Chris Kolstad from Montana (R) passes the gavel to 2019/20 Chairman Doug Goyings from Ohio.

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

Montana exports most of its wheat to partners around the world. Wheat production in the state is logistically advantaged to efficiently fill shuttle trains with hard red spring (HRS) and hard red winter (HRW) bound for the Pacific Northwest (PNW) ports. Montana’s wheat is often considered as improver classes because it offers strong functional characteristics. The extreme summer heat and extreme winter cold together are conducive to growing excellent small grains with high protein. Montana wheat is desired by quality-conscious customers, making the Pacific Rim our largest market. Market development efforts are very important to Montana farmers and USW plays a key role in identifying potential markets and maintaining existing markets. Our farmers have invested in these efforts since 1967 when our committee was formed, and our very low checkoff refund rate shows Montana farmers understand the value of these efforts.

Montana wheat farmer and USW Director Denise Conover traveled with USW to Tanzania and Kenya in November 2019 to learn more about food aid programs and wheat monetization. Read more.

How have Montana wheat farmers recently connected with overseas customers?

MWBC hosts upwards of 100 overseas trade team visitors each year. Our farmers love hosting trade delegations and are quick to open their homes to our guests. Showcasing a way of life that often spans many generations is a great point of pride for Montana farmers, and discussions on best practices and planting decisions often lead to 3-hour dinners and forming long-term connections. Montana farmers view our overseas customers as an extended family.

Current circumstances are transforming the way we reach customers, including taking part in weekly updates and virtual meetings hosted by USW. MWBC is being proactive in our efforts as the uncertainty associated with the pandemic has brought challenges. However, our farmers are not slowing down. They are working their hardest to continue to supply the market with the highest quality wheat in the world.

A USW 2019 trade delegation from Japan visiting a farm in Montana.

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

  • We are developing a video series that creates a virtual trade delegation experience and focuses on what a visitor would learn and experience if they were visiting Montana in person. The series will tour the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) certified State Grain Lab with a look at the grading process and factors that set Montana wheat apart, and feature a farm tour to present crop rotation, precision agriculture and other sustainable practices.
  • Montana State University (MSU) has done an excellent job keeping research projects moving forward during the pandemic and is hiring a new endowed chair and HRS wheat breeder. Montana farmers invest over $2 million every year in wheat and barley research.
  • MSU wheat breeding programs continue to focus on quality, traits like low PPO and increased stability and developing durum varieties.

Montana farmers would like to thank USW for their continued efforts in developing and maintaining overseas markets. Without these efforts a lot of us would not be able to do what we love out in “Big Sky Country.” Many Montana farmers have hosted overseas visitors traveling with USW and have made lifelong friendships and memories because of it. Those experiences have outlasted cultural, political and historical differences over the last 50+ years for MWBC.

Learn more about the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee on its website here and on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.

 

A trade delegation of Japanese executive millers visited 2018/19 USW Chairman and Montana wheat farmer Chris Kolstad on his farm in 2019.

Janice Mattson, a wheat farmer from Montana, was USW’s first female chair in 2009/10. She was also featured in a 4-part series about the U.S. wheat supply chain system in 2014. View that series here.

 

Al Klempel (L), a wheat farmer from Montana, traveled with USW to Spain, Portugal and Morocco on a board team trip in 2019. The team is pictured here with equipment sponsored by U.S. Wheat Associates at the IFIM milling school in Casablanca. Read more.

Leonard Schock, 2006/07 USW Chairman and a Montana wheat farmer presented at the 2016 North Asia Marketing Conference in Guam.

 

2018/19 USW Chairman Chris Kolstad, a wheat farmer from Montana, and NAWG President, Ben Scholz, a wheat farmer from Texas, represented the U.S. wheat industry at the 2017 National Association of Farm Broadcasting Trade Talk event.

 

 

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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.


Goyings FarmsThe Goyings family has been “working hard and going strong” on their farm in northwestern Ohio since 1884. Today, Doug Goyings, his wife Diane and their son Jeremy strive to be leaders in innovative farming practices that incorporate precision and conservation. They were one of the first farms in the area to successfully implement no-till practices and GPS-based systems that protect their soil, reduce fuel use and increase crop production efficiency. With remarkable self-sufficiently, Doug and Jeremy designed and built their high-volume grain storage system (only to re-build it after it was severely damaged by a tornado) and built their own equipment to offer custom field drainage services to other farmers. They know that such challenging work and long days are made slightly easier when it is work that you love, surrounded by the people that you love, including the next generation on Goyings Farms – the twin boys Axel and Garrett of Jeremy and his wife Jessica.

Location: Paulding, Ohio
Classes of Wheat Grown:  Soft Red Winter (SRW)
Leadership: Doug Goyings: 2019/20 Chairman, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW); USW Director, representing Ohio Small Grains Marketing Program (OSGMP), since 2009; Past-Chairman, USW Long-Range Planning Committee; Past Director, OSGMP; Member and Past-President, Paulding County, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation; Director, Ohio Veal Growers Inc.; Director, Creston Veal, Inc.; Director, Paulding Landmark, Inc.


View other videos and stories in this series:

Stories from the Wheat Farm – The Next Generation in Kansas
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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By Steve Mercer, USW Vice President of Communications

Wheat farmers in post-World War II United States were producing more wheat than ever before. So, to improve marketing opportunities, they organized and reached out to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for help. These visionary state wheat leaders ultimately formed two regional organizations to coordinate export market development: Western Wheat Associates and Great Plains Wheat Market Development Association.

In the fourth of a series on the “Legacy of Commitment,” 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.

On March 27, Wheat Letter offered historical perspective on how changes in federal programs, global market factors and relationships drew Western Wheat Associates and Great Plains Wheat 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.

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. 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 one-third of one cent per bushel, multiplied by the average production in the state over the past five years. Currently 17 state wheat commissions are USW members. In 2020, Wheat Letter is profiling each state commission member.

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), 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 2019/20, federal funding provided $2.60 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 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.

Jeffery Albanese (pictured back row with hat), Agricultural Attache, USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, U.S. Embassy Manila, joined the 2017 USW 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 Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney (center) and other FAS staff in Washington, D.C. 


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
NAWG, USW Lead the Way Through Issues Affecting Wheat Farmers

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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: Idaho Wheat Commission
Member of USW since 1980

Location: Boise, Idaho
Classes of wheat grown: Hard Red Winter (HRW), Hard Red Spring (HRS), Hard White (HW), Soft White (SW), Durum
USW Leadership: Boyd Schwieder, 2005/06 Chairman; Jim McDonald, 2002/03 Chairman; Jerry Kress, 1998/99 Chairman; Dallin Reese, 1987/88 Chairman

Wheat is grown in 42 of Idaho’s 44 counties and ranks as the state’s second largest crop, behind potatoes. About half of Idaho’s crop goes to domestic mills and the other half is exported, primarily through Pacific Northwest (PNW) ports to Asian and Latin American customers. Idaho typically ranks in the top seven U.S. states for wheat production. An average of 1.2 million acres of wheat is planted each year and yields per acre are among the highest in the nation.

IWC Commissioner and wheat farmer Clark Hamilton was a member of the 2016 USW Board team that traveled to Japan and Korea.

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

Idaho exports about half of its wheat, but strong global demand contributes to the profitability of all Idaho growers by increasing farmgate wheat prices. Through its partnership with USW, the Idaho Wheat Commission (IWC) leverages the market intelligence and valuable customer relationships established around the world, in order to find new markets and sustain demand in established markets. USW programs bring the customers and growers together, facilitating a personal connection that is key to the continued success of the Idaho and U.S. wheat industries. We are grateful to USW for the work their team does to develop and maintain relationships for our growers with buyers in other countries and we wish for many more prosperous years to come.

IWC Commissioner and wheat farmer Joe Anderson (second from left) participated on the 2019 USW South Asia Board Team trip to the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia.

How have Idaho wheat farmers recently connected with overseas customers?

Idaho hosts multiple international trade delegations each year from many different countries. Participants follow the entire supply chain to see how wheat gets from the ground to its destination in the mill. These customers visit quality control labs and wheat breeding programs, visit farms and see how growers take care to produce high-quality wheat and then go on to visit the local grain handlers who move the wheat by rail, barge and container. Idaho is unique in that it has an inland “ocean port.” At the Lewis-Clark Terminal in Lewiston, Idaho, wheat is loaded onto barges that travel down the Columbia-Snake River System to the export facilities near Portland, Ore.

Additionally, IWC commissioners and staff regularly participate in events overseas. Recently, for example, Commissioner Clark Hamilton joined Idaho Governor Brad Little in a goodwill mission to Taiwan, a country with which IWC has a long and fruitful relationship. Commissioner Bill Flory also visited Japan with USW to meet with longtime friends of IWC and major buyers of SW, HRS and HRW wheat.

With the current travel restrictions, IWC is working to connect virtually with customers through USW online programs.

IWC Commissioner Bill Flory hosted the 2019 Philippine Trade Team on his farm.

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

  • Wheat growers in Idaho are diligently tending to their crops and working like any other year, despite the global pandemic. Favorable weather throughout the growing season has the crop in excellent condition just a few weeks from the start of harvest. The transportation system is running smoothly, and customers can expect mostly normal operations. The Columbia-Snake River System is critical for reliably and affordably shipping grains from the PNW to overseas markets.
  • Our new executive director, Casey Chumrau, has extensive international wheat marketing experience gained as a marketing manager for USW’s South American region, based in Santiago, Chile, and as a USW market analyst.*
  • IWC invests one-third of its annual budget into research that will help Idaho growers produce high-quality wheat that customers demand. Research ranges from production practices to end-use quality.

Learn more about the Idaho Wheat Commission on its website here and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.

*USW wants to thank Blaine Jacobson, who recently retired after many years as IWC’s executive director, for his dedicated service to wheat farmers and support for export market development.

Longtime IWC Executive Director Blaine Jacobson (L) retired in June 2020 after 18 years of service. He’s show here being congratulated by IWC Chairman Ned Moon.

IWC Commissioner and wheat farmer Jerry Brown represented Idaho at the 2017 USW Crop Quality Seminars in Asia.

IWC Commissioner Clark Hamilton (directly behind photo in white), a farmer from Idaho, participated on the 2018 USW Board Team that traveled to China and Taiwan.

IWC Commissioner and Idaho wheat farmer Bill Flory traveled to Japan with USW to participate in the 2019 Japan Buyers Conference.