Thanksgiving in the United States is a time set aside as a national holiday in late November each year. In 2023, U.S. Thanksgiving is Thursday, Nov. 23.

To celebrate the holiday, the U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Headquarters and West Coast Offices will be closed Thursday, Nov. 23 and Friday, Nov. 24. In addition, the next Wheat Letter newsletter will be sent November 30, but you can keep up with posts in the Wheat Letter Blog at

In addition, the USW Price Report will be published Wednesday, Nov. 22.

White dinner rolls in a basket to illustrate bread as part of the Thanksgiving meal

A basket of bread rolls is a part of most traditional U.S. Thanksgiving meals.

Thankful for Our Customers

A traditional U.S. Thanksgiving is centered around a meal that includes wheat foods like warm rolls and sweet pies with wheat flour crusts. As the people who produce, move, promote and bring high quality U.S. wheat to market gather with family and friends this holiday, USW colleagues will also give thanks for our customers around the world!


The first event as U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Country Director for Taiwan Yi-I Huang was to lead his staff and 10 Taiwanese customers of U.S. wheat to the USW North Asia Marketing Conference in Bali, Indonesia. He handled it with ease.

In this short video, we hear from Huang (his first name is pronounced “E-E”) and learn a little about his background. He came to USW after a 14-year career in grain merchandizing, working in both Taipei, Taiwan, and Tokyo, Japan.  We also learn that he is fluent in Mandarin, Taiwanese, Japanese, and English. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agriculture from National Taiwan University in Taipei, and he participated in an international exchange program at Keio University of Tokyo, Japan.



Three different countries, three different languages, three different cultures and three different sets of consumers. Yet flour millers from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan actually have something in common: They have a strong interest in U.S. wheat.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) invited wheat buyers from each country to Bali, Indonesia, August 28 and 29, 2023, for the 2023 USW North Asia Marketing Conference. The conference provides an opportunity for U.S. producers to meet their customers and share information about this year’s wheat crop. It also gives customers the chance to hear about each aspect of the U.S. wheat supply chain and learn about the global wheat market.

USW President Vince Peterson

Vince Peterson

“It is a very unique gathering because of the differences in the markets, but our staff in each of the participating offices is able to organize it in a way that brings wheat buyers together with everyone to share information and learn about all the advantages of buying U.S. wheat,” said USW President Vince Peterson. “In fact, you immediately notice a camaraderie as flour millers meet with farmers and others in the U.S. industry.”

The short video below captures some scenes as the conference opened on Aug. 28 in Bali.


At their annual meeting the week of July 10 in Minneapolis, Minn., the Board of Directors of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) will install North Dakota farmer Jim Pellman as 2023/24 Secretary-Treasurer. Pellman was elected to that position in February 2023.

“After serving as a director on the U.S. Wheat Associates board representing North Dakota, I believe in the mission of the organization,” Pellman said after his election. “This is an ideal time for me to put my experience to work for wheat farmers beyond my county and state. I am looking forward to doing what I can to help the organization continue building export demand in a very competitive global market.”

In the photo above, left to right, Pellman will join Clark Hamilton, Ririe, Idaho, Vice Chair, Rhonda Larson, East Grand Forks, Minn., Past Chair, and Michael Peters, Okarche, Okla., Chair, as USW 2023/24 officers.

Banker and Farmer

Pellman and his wife, Candace, have two children and grow wheat, barley, canola, corn, and soybeans on the farm they started in 1990 near McClusky, N.D. After earning a degree in Agricultural Economics from North Dakota State University, Pellman started his ag lending career with FMHA before moving to a community bank, where he spent 25 years.

He served as Chief and on the board of his community’s volunteer fire department and as chair of a local non-profit housing organization. Pellman is serving his second, four-year term on the North Dakota Wheat Commission (NDWC) and has represented Sheridan County since 2014. Pellman is NDWC vice-chairman and is liaison on transportation issues and the North Dakota Rail Council, as a representative to the North Dakota Grain Growers Association, and a voting member of the SBARE Wheat Granting Committee.

Hear more from Jim Pellman in the short video posted below.


The U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Seoul, South Korea, office commemorated its 50th year of service May 15, 2023, with honored guests from the flour milling, baking, and logistics industries, U.S. government officials, U.S. wheat farmer leaders and colleagues.

Speakers during the event focused on the remarkable growth of the South Korean wheat foods supply system as well as the “ironclad” industrial and national partnership with the United States and USW.

Celebrating the Partnership

USW Country Director Dong-Chan (Channy) Bae kicked off the anniversary program by noting USW’s long-term commitment to helping the South Korean milling and baking industry advance and grow. He affirmed the success of the partnership, saying “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together – and together we have accomplished much.”

In his remarks, USW President Vince Peterson first looked back at the U.S.-South Korea wheat industry relationship. Referencing a 1984 article, Peterson said the author called out South Korea’s growth in U.S. wheat imports as an example of the very successful economic and security linkage between our two countries.

He said South Korea’s first commercial purchase of U.S. wheat in 1972 (following many years of donations under the PL-480 Food for Peace program) created the opportunity to open a U.S. wheat promotion office and more.

Since then, the South Korean milling and baking industry has seen “astounding growth until today when you import an average of 1.4 million metric tons of U.S. wheat and now export ramen products valued at more than $750 million,” Peterson said. “We thank you all and want you to know we remain dedicated to the partnership that helped fuel that growth.”

Chairman Won-Ki Ryu represented the Korea Flour Mills Industrial Association (KOFMIA) and said members of the organization greatly valued the relationship with U.S. farmers and USW.

“Together we have made major accomplishments that have significantly contributed to the advancement of flour milling in our country,” he said.

Executives from the South Korean flour milling and baking industries, USDA FAS, and USW cut a ceremonial cake celebrating the 50th anniversary of USW's Seoul office.

USW and representatives from Korea’s flour milling and baking industries, and USDA FAS cut a commemorative cake made with U.S. wheat flour by the Korean Baking School to celebrate the 50th anniversary of USW’s office in Seoul, South Korea. Left to Right: Channy Bae, USW Country Director; Darren Padget, USW Past Chairman; In Seok Song, CEO Daehan Flour Mills Co., Ltd.; Won-Ki Ryu, Chairman, KOFMIA; Vince Peterson, USW President; Mark Dries, Ag Minister Counselor, USDA-FAS; Michael Peters, USW Vice Chairman.

A Flagship Commodity

Mark Dries, Agricultural Minister Counselor, with USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, offered heartfelt congratulations to USW on its anniversary. He said milling wheat is now the fifth largest U.S. commodity imported by South Korea.

“We are very pleased to help celebrate this accomplishment. Wheat is one of the flagship export products to South Korea and has helped fuel the amazing innovations we see in bakery products here,” Dries said.

USW was fortunate to have three of its wheat farmer leaders participate in the event in Seoul: Past Chairman Darren Padget of Grass Valley, Oregon; Vice Chairman Michael Peters of Okarche, Oklahoma; and Secretary-Treasurer Clark Hamilton of Ririe, Idaho.

USW Vice President of Overseas Operations Mike Spier also provided an overview of the global and U.S. wheat supply and demand situation. He showed that the now four-year downward trend in ending stocks will likely support world and U.S. wheat prices. He said while U.S. hard red winter wheat supplies will remain tight, the potential for more normal soft white and hard red spring (DNS) wheat crops for 2023 is good. At the same time, Spier said to expect continued volatility given the uncertainty of the Black Sea situation.

Thanks to Colleagues

USW wants to recognize the dedicated work of its Seoul-based colleagues Channy Bae, Country Director, Shin-Hak (David) Oh, Food & Bakery Technologist, and Jin Young Lee, Marketing and Program Coordinator. USW was also pleased that Dr. Won Bang Koh, who served as Country Director for more than 30 years, was able to participate in this special anniversary celebration.

Photo of a panel discussion at the USW South and Southeast Asia Marketing Conference.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) in cooperation with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service welcomed close to 200 guests to a South and Southeast Asian Marketing Conference May 9 to 11 in Phuket, Thailand. This was the first such conference in that region since 2012 and comes at a challenging time for the milling and wheat foods business.

Demonstrating Partnership

“It was great to have everyone back together again,” said Joe Sowers, USW Regional Vice President. “Our regional milling and baking customers are dealing with a lot of uncertainty and market volatility and the pandemic limited our direct service work for a long time, so this is another way for us to demonstrate our commitment to them and why U.S. wheat remains important to their businesses.”

The conference theme, “Building Prosperity Through Partnership,” and presentations reminded customers that USW is committed to being a steadfast partner in both challenging and stable times. The program provided perspective on geopolitical and market forces shaping the regional wheat food industry, an early look at the 2023 U.S. wheat crop, and reports from millers in several South and Southeast Asian countries, including Antonina Sio, Assistant Vice President and General Manager of San Miguel Flour Mills in Batangas, Philippines.

Value in Networking

“I am attending the conference to learn more about the industry, the trends and what’s happening all over the world and, at the same time, to collaborate and network with my counterparts around the region,” Sio said.

Those millers expressed hope that flour demand will grow in the future based on population growth and changing economic factors. To give millers and bakers additional tools to help achieve that growth, USW included technical presentations on using solvent retention capacity analysis to select specific flours that perform best for specific end uses.

“The experience that we gain by learning from Mr. Roy Chung and from conferences like this gives us a lot of knowledge so we can improve our baking skills and improve products for our customers,” said Daniel Tay, Founder of Foodnostics in Singapore.

Darren Padget stands in front of a panel with a photo of his hand with his calculation of how much bread can be made from wheat grown on his farm at the South And Southeast Asian Marketing Conference.

Growing Wheat is Dirty Work. Presenting to the South and Southeast Asian Marketing Conference May 10, USW Past Chairman Darren Padget, a wheat farmer from Grass Valley, Ore., shared how he calculated (in his own way), how many loaves of bread can be made from the wheat he produces every year on his farm.

Thanks to Sponsors

Several USW farmer board members travelled to Phuket to participate in the conference, as did representatives from sponsoring organizations including the Idaho Wheat Commission, Nebraska Wheat Board, North Dakota Wheat Commission, Oregon Wheat Commission, and Washington Grain Commission. Additional funding was provided by Agrex, Inc., Bunge, Cargill, CHS, CoBank, Columbia Grain, Pacificor, LLC, United Grain Corp., and Viterra.


Everyone at U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), Kansas Wheat, and the entire U.S. wheat industry are shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of our colleague Mark Fowler at his home in Manhattan, Kansas, on Feb. 20, 2023. Mark joined USW in 2017 and was Vice President of Global Technical Services.

Mark Fowler portrait

Mark Fowler, 1970 – 2023

Mark was 52 years old and is survived by his wife Courtney, their daughters Piper and Paige, his mother Ruth Fowler, and his sisters Rhonda (Scott) Gordon and Amy Fowler. Funeral services were held on Saturday, February 25, at 10:30 a.m., at the College Avenue United Methodist Church, Manhattan, Kansas. Obituary and memorial information are posted at Condolences may also be sent to, mailed to Kansas Wheat, 1990 Kimball Ave, Manhattan, KS 66502, or emailed to [email protected] to be shared with the family.

“Mark’s passing is a great personal and professional loss for our organization and the wheat farmers we serve,” said USW President Vince Peterson. “Mark embraced his work and our mission with enthusiasm; as a result, our technical experts are better equipped and motivated partners for our many customers across the world. Our most sincere sympathy goes out to Mark’s family and to the wheat community he loved.”

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mark in various capacities in the wheat industry over the past 20 years,” said Justin Gilpin, Kansas Wheat CEO. “His impact and network of friends reached around the globe. He was a strong asset to the U.S. wheat industry and farmers, and a friend that will be dearly missed.”

Mark Fowler grew up on his family’s farm near Emporia, Kansas. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Milling Science and Management from Kansas State University (K-State), and later returned to complete a master’s degree in Agricultural Economics.

His career began as a flour miller first for Cargill, Inc., and then Seaboard Corp. In those roles, Mark ran flour mills, worked on projects in several developing countries, including Ecuador, Guyana, and Haiti, and worked as a technical director of the Africa Division within Seaboard’s Overseas Group in Durban, South Africa. Later, he spent 12 years back at K-State as a milling specialist and associate director at the IGP Institute, in the university’s Grain Science and Industry department.

As a highly respected flour milling expert, Mark also served as a technical milling consultant for USW, as well as the Northern Crops Institute (NCI), allowing him to become well acquainted with many USW staff and overseas customers.

Before joining USW, originally as Vice President of Overseas Operations, Mark was the President and CEO of Farmer Direct Foods, Inc. a farmer-owned, flour milling company in New Cambria, Kansas.

Mark Fowler with flour millers in Taiwan.

Mark Fowler served as a respected milling consultant, here with customers at a flour mill in Taiwan, before joining USW in 2017 .

“Throughout my career, I have experienced the global impact of the milling industry from several perspectives,” Mark said when he joined USW. “I am excited to engage with friends and colleagues in the industry to advance the U.S. wheat export market development mission.”

Mark most certainly did advance USW’s mission through his dedicated service, mentoring and friendship. The photo at the top of this page shows Mark with colleagues Ady Redondo, USW Manila; David Oh, USW Seoul, Roy Chung, USW Singapore; Marcelo Mitre, USW Mexico City; Joe Bippert, USW Manila; and Wei-Lin Chou, USW Taipei. All his colleagues will miss him deeply.



Appropriately, the celebration of the 60th anniversary of USW’s office in the Philippines included the U.S. Ambassador to the country, representatives from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and the Executive Director of the Philippine Association of Flour Miller’s (PAFMIL).

It also featured a cake contest starring U.S. soft white wheat.

The Nov. 18 event, which marked another milestone in an important relationship between U.S. wheat and one of its biggest and most dependable customers, came at the conclusion of the 2022 USW Crop Quality (CQ) Seminar in Manila – the first in-person CQ seminar since 2019.

The USW team poses with one of the photos gifted by Past President Darren Padget to Filipino flour millers during the 60th anniversary celebration of the USW office in the Philippines.

The USW team poses with one of the U.S. wheat harvest photos gifted by Past Chairman Darren Padget to Filipino flour millers during the 60th anniversary celebration of the USW office in the Philippines.

“It is fortunate and very fitting that we were able to get together with some familiar faces to celebrate the anniversary of our presence in the Philippines while also sharing information about the U.S. wheat crop,” said USW President Vince Peterson, who joined a large team of USW officers and staff at the Manila Marriott Hotel. “U.S. Wheat Associates and our legacy organizations have maintained an office here for six decades now for a very good reason. The flour millers in the Philippines rely on U.S. wheat to meet growing demand by consumers. And wheat farmers in the U.S. rely on Filipino flour millers who appreciate the high-quality wheat they grow.”

MaryKay Carlson, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines, spoke about the significance of U.S. wheat in the region.

“Nothing symbolizes U.S. agriculture better than amber waves of grain,” Carlson told an audience. “We are pleased to make this important essential commodity available to our friends, partners and allies here in the Philippines.”

MaryKay Carlson, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines, speaks during USW's 60th anniversary celebration. Carlson emphasized the importance of the relationship between U.S. wheat and consumers in the country.

MaryKay Carlson, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines, speaks during USW’s 60th anniversary celebration. Carlson emphasized the importance of the relationship between U.S. wheat and consumers in the country.

PAFMIL Executive Director Ric Pinca was among representatives of the Filipino milling industry on hand to congratulate USW. USW Chairman Rhonda Larson and Past Chairman Darren Padget participated, each sharing background on their farms and production practices. Padget presented local millers with framed photographs of a wheat field overlooking the Lower Monumental dam on the Snake River.

Three flour mills participated in the contest to design, bake and decorate a cake made with flour milled from U.S. soft white wheat and a variety of local fruits.

The Philippines is the second largest importer of U.S. wheat in the world. Over the past five years, Filipino flour millers have imported an average of more than 2.9 million metric tons of U.S. soft white, hard red spring and hard red winter wheat per year.


Latin America is facing great challenges, with extreme poverty and hunger being some of the most alarming. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), nearly 60 million people suffer from hunger in the region. This is a continuing opportunity for organizations to collaborate and coordinate approaches and resources to advance food and nutrition security, economic growth, and sustainable development of each country, to reduce gaps amid population and climate change dynamics.

That is why U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), U.S. Grains Council (USGC), and U.S. Rice Federation (USA Rice) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate on contributing to the nutrition and food security of the region by promoting U.S. agricultural and food exports across Latin America.

Under this agreement, these four leading U.S. agricultural and food trade associations will undertake joint initiatives in areas of mutual benefit, leveraging the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Market Development and Market Access Program by coordinating and/or combining resources.  Furthermore, this agreement is expected to make a positive impact in the region amid the latest global economic events such as interruptions to supply chains, the negative impact of Covid-19, and a changing climate.

U.S. and Chilean officials at the dedication of a joint USW-Universidad Mayor wheat quality and baking lab

Spirit of Collaboration. USW Santiago worked with Universidad Mayor to create a wheat flour analysis and baking laboratory dedicated in 2021 with guests including USDA FAS and Chilean officials (above). Such collaboration helped USW reach a memorandum of understanding with three other U.S. agricultural export organizations to work closely on regional nutrition and food security activities.

“We live in a global village. Collaboration and coordination can be instrumental to benefit Latin America families, our food company customers, and countries, as well as the U.S. food and agriculture industry. ” said Carlos Salinas, USSEC Regional Director for the Americas. “Together and equipped with sustainable, high quality and reliable food and agricultural products, we will implement specific, targeted and coordinated marketing initiatives to advance food and nutrition security, climate-forward solutions, and progress for people and communities.”

“In our region we have several customers that purchase two or three agricultural commodities from the United States and we believe that more communication with USDA cooperators will have a positive impact on our mission in South America,” said Miguel Galdos, USW Regional Director, South America.




U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) President Vince Peterson shared this message of condolence following the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe:

“Our colleagues and the wheat grower directors of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) want to express our sorrow at the tragic loss of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“His leadership focused in part on creating a positive, beneficial trade environment for the Japanese people that including the successful completion of the U.S.-Japan bilateral agreement. That agreement helped protect our long and fruitful trade partnership of which we are so proud. In fact, past USW Chairmen Darren Padget and Doug Goyings were pleased to meet and shake hands with Prime Minister Abe and President Trump in September 2019 at the ceremony in New York City, N.Y., marking the beginning of negotiations on the U.S.-Japan trade agreement that entered into force in 2020.

“We send sincere condolences to our partners, friends and the Japanese people at this sad time.”

Image from September 2019 signing ceremony for U.S. Japan bilateral trade agreement

Witnessing the Start of Historic Trade Agreement. Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (seated left), former President Trump welcomed U.S. cabinet members, Japanese officials and U.S. industry representatives including Past USW Chairmen Doug Goyings (standing, 4th from left) and Darren Padget (standing, 4th from right) as they officially kicked off negotiations for the  U.S.-Japan trade agreement in New York City in September 2019.