A communications professional group of which I am a member recently shared information about a topic that is difficult, but vitally important to continue U.S. wheat’s promise of “Dependable People, Reliable Wheat.” It is mental health and other wellness issues for wheat farm families and within their rural communities who make up the U.S. wheat supply system.

In this “Wheat Letter” blog, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) usually focuses on practical information about the quality and value of U.S. wheat and supporting services.

It is also important for customers to understand that farming is a stressful way of life with increasing challenges. Multiple studies show that farmer suicide rates are up to five times higher than the national average. Natural disasters, extreme weather events, financial uncertainty, fluctuating markets, labor shortages, trade disruptions, and other factors all contribute to extreme stress or mental health issues for farmers and ranchers who often live in a very isolated setting.

Mental Health Safety Net

At a recent online discussion, the U.S.-based Farm Foundation and American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) introduced their work to provide crucial mental health services to those dependable people who supply wheat to the world. The organizations are part of a landmark alliance launching free, anonymous, mental health and wellbeing services to provide a nationwide safety net of confidential and on-demand mental health support to farmers, ranchers, and farm families. Unveiled at the AFBF 2024 Convention in January 2024, the Farm Family Wellness Alliance (FFWA) provides solutions to build farm family wellness and access to an understanding community.

That access is provided in this alliance through Togetherall, a safe, clinically moderated peer-to-peer community, where members around the world are there to listen, support and give members’ mental wellbeing a boost. Through an anonymous profile, users can access a global network of peers, backed by the safeguarding of licensed clinicians overseeing the community around-the-clock.

Learn More

The FFWA is hosting a webinar May 21, 2024, at 10:00 a.m. U.S. Central Time to share more information on “Togetherall” resources available to farm families across the country. This webinar is open to all organizations, associations, and individuals involved in agriculture who want to learn more about supporting farm family well-being. Registration is required and may be accessed here.

USW cares deeply about the farm families we represent, the people who protect the quality and integrity of U.S. wheat in the export system, and our customers around the world. We applaud organizations like Farm Foundation, AFBF, and others that are working to provide such mental health services. And we encourage anyone who is experiencing anxiety, depression, or other stresses to seek the help you deserve.

By USW Vice President of Communications Steve Mercer


As U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) President Vince Peterson often says, at any given hour of the day there is someone, somewhere, talking about the quality, reliability and value of U.S. wheat. Wheat Letter is sharing some of the ways USW was working in the third quarter of marketing year 2023/24 to promote U.S. wheat in an ever more complex world grain market.

Trade, Technical Service in South Korea

In January 2024, USW Seoul Country Director Channy Bae and Food/Bakery Technologist Shin Hak (David) Oh carried out trade and technical service to flour mills in western Korea.

U.S. soft white wheat kernels

Soft white (SW) wheat.

Channy Bae shared an early forecast of U.S. and world wheat supply and demand with the millers. David Oh also reported on the results of a 2023 short course at the Wheat Market Center demonstrating the positive performance of alternative U.S. wheat flour blends to local standard flours. One of those alternatives, using competitively priced U.S. soft white (SW) to replace Australian soft white wheat in noodle applications. The USW representatives also presented data on the cost and performance advantages of U.S. hard red spring (HRS) and hard red winter (HRW) flour blends for bread products compared to Canadian spring wheat.

Optimizing HRW Wheat Performance in Colombia

Also in January, USW Santiago and a flour milling consultant worked with three milling companies in Colombia that had purchased 12.5% protein (12% moisture basis) HRW that the U.S. government had donated to a South American non-governmental organization (NGO). The NGO used proceeds from the wheat sale for local economic development projects. The millers each found opportunities to use the higher protein flour in blends while benefiting from USW’s technical milling support. The activity built a base of new knowledge about the range of U.S. HRW quality and USW Santiago will monitor continued interest from the Colombian millers.

U.S. hard red winter wheat.

Milling Management Seminars in Southeast Asia

USW’s regional office in Singapore planned and conducted milling workshop and technical service visits focused on “milling core competency” to meet with representatives from mills in the Philippines and Vietnam. Three one-day workshops featured Associate Director Shawn Thiele and Grain Quality & Feed Manufacturing Specialist Carlos Campabadal with the IGP Institute, Manhattan, Kan.

These consultants presented information on mill key performance indicators (KPIs), blending practices, storage, and mill maintenance among other issues millers had identified during USW-sponsored activities in 2023. In total 169 participants from 30 mills attended the workshops held in Ho Chi Minh City, Cebu, and Manila. Additionally, two participants from a mill in Thailand attended the Manila Seminar.

Providing assistance to millers in this important market will help them continue to recognize the value of using high quality U.S. wheat classes.

IGP Assistant Director Shawn Thiele leads the lecture session on the first day of the IGP-KSU Flour Milling Course for State Administrators.

Shawn Thiele, IGP Institute

Milling Donated Hard White Sample in South Africa

Keeping Shawn Thiele busy, USW Sub-Sahara African regional office in Cape Town, sponsored his technical assistance helping a large South Africa company mill a sample of U.S. hard white (HW) wheat that USW made available with funding from the Agricultural Trade Promotion program. Opportunities exist in South Africa to develop demand for this new-to-the-market HW because this class of wheat offers higher extraction rates while minimizing ash content for certain types of flour. Currently U.S. wheat sales to South Africa include HRW and soft red winter (SRW) wheat.

U.S. Wheat Market Development Planning

USW’s 13 overseas and two domestic offices also conducted their annual marketing planning over the past three months. Annual investments in USW’s work by 17 state wheat commission member organizations qualify USW to apply for program funds from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). FAS cooperators like USW must submit an annual marketing plan called the Unified Export Strategy (UES). The plan evaluates past efforts, documents progress against specific goals, and suggests future wheat export market development activities for all markets. FAS will evaluate the current plan and will announce its funding awards for 2025 activities later in 2024.




Kansas wheat farmer Gary Millershaski summed up the 10-day Sub-Saharan Africa Board Team trade mission with a perfect sentence to describe U.S. Wheat Associates’ (USW) efforts on the African continent.

He said, “It’s not what we did yesterday, but it’s the knowledge we accumulate today to make us better understand how to deal with (the market) and make more sales tomorrow.”

Millershaski joined Ohio wheat farmer Bill Schroeder and Oklahoma wheat farmer RJ Parrish on the trip. The mission was led by USW Director of Programs Catherine Miller. The team was connected to millers and wheat buyers in South Africa and Nigeria by USW-Cape Town Programs and Marketing Specialist Domenique Opperman and USW Regional Director Chad Weigand. Among the stops was the PepsiCo flour mill in Malmesbury, South Africa. Next was the Premier mill in Durban, South Africa. On a tour of Premier, the USW team up with Shawn Thiele, Associate Director and Flour Milling and Grain Processing Curriculum Manager at the IGP Institute at Kansas State University. Thiele walked the team through wheat milling processes being used by millers in the market.

A long flight to Nigeria followed. There, the farmers met with millers who purchase U.S. wheat and toured facilities. Nigeria is an established customer and the U.S. has been one of the top wheat suppliers over the past decade. However, pricing has impacted exports in recent years.

USW’s Sub-Saharan Africa Board Team trip follows participation by Idaho wheat farmer and USW Vice Chairman Clark Hamilton in USDA’s first-ever U.S. agribusiness trade mission to Angola, another promising market in Africa.

Hear from the farmers to learn more about their experiences in South Africa and Nigeria in the short video below.


From working dairy cows in upstate New York to certifying seed in Minnesota to helping promote and export wheat in Arizona – the career backstory of Allan “Al” Simons is fascinating. Simons, who has served as part-time Executive Director of the Arizona Grain Research and Promotion Council (AGRPC) since 1994, announced that he is retiring in June. Over the past three decades, Simons has regularly attended U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) meetings. He also represented Arizona’s interests on three USW Board Team trips, and has been an effective promoter of Desert Durum® wheat. But his connection to the wheat industry goes much deeper. He served as Executive Vice President of the Arizona Crop Improvement Association (ACIA) beginning in 1988 until his retirement from that organization in 2008. “I hope that my work in grain research and promotion have been helpful and appreciated,” Simons said. “I do know that, personally, collaborating with U.S. Wheat Associates over the years opened my eyes to the global aspects of agriculture. I am grateful for those experiences.” In this short video, we hear from Simons and learn about some of his history with wheat . . .


Farmer leaders of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) are meeting in Washington, DC, Jan. 23 to 26, 2024, for a joint board of directors meeting. Activities included a plenary policy session, separate meetings with members of Congress, and consideration of USW’s producer-funded operating budget for fiscal year 2024/25.

At the policy session, USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agriculture Alexis Taylor expressed excitement about seven U.S. agricultural trade missions planned for 2024 including the first to Angola in which USW Vice Chairman Clarke Hamilton will participate. Legislative staff for U.S. House of Representatives members of the congressional agricultural trade caucus said there is more support in Congress now for increasing export market development investments in farm legislation.

Alexis Taylor and Dalton Henry.

Alexis Taylor (left), USDA Under Secretary of Trade and Foreign Agriculture, did a question/answer session with USW Vice President of Policy Dalton Henry during a USW and NAWG joint policy session Jan. 24.

Congressional Leaders

The Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and the Ranking Member Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas met with NAWG directors to discuss progress on the “Farm Bill” legislation that is currently being considered in Congress. There is much to do, they said, but reconfirmed their commitment to work together to pass the bill as soon as possible.

NAWG CEO Chandler Goule in a panel discussion with Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Sen. John Boozeman, leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

NAWG CEO Chandler Goule (left) moderated a panel discussion with Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Sen. John Boozeman, leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee during the NAWG session Jan. 25.

On Friday, Jan. 25, USW farmer directors will elect officers for FY 2024/25. Gary Millershaski, a USW director and Kansas Wheat Commission member, has been nominated to stand for election as 2024/25 Secretary-Treasurer.

USW will share a video report from the joint board meeting the week of Jan. 29.


Episode 2 of the U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) “Stories of Stewardship” series features Tom Cannon, a wheat farmer and cattle rancher from Blackwell, Oklahoma. Cannon, who operates Goodson Ranch with his family, went “all-in” and became a 100% no-till farmer.  And he didn’t stop there.

Watch Episode 2 here: Stories of Stewardship – U.S. Wheat Associates (

USW’s new video series focuses on the sustainable practices applied by five farm families growing different classes of wheat across the range of conditions in the United States. They share a commitment to farm in ways that sustain economic viability to produce safe, wholesome wheat for the world while ensuring the land is passed on in better condition for future generations.

Future episodes will be released Feb. 7, Feb. 21, March 6, and March 20.

Watch Now

Watch Episode 2 here and stay tuned as new episodes are released Feb. 7, Feb. 21, March 6, and March 20.

USW wants to thank Cannon, Ben and Stephanie Bowsher of Waynesfield, Ohio; Nick Jorgensen of Ideal, S.D.; Art Schultheis of Colton, Wash.; and Aaron Kjelland of Park River, N.D. for sharing their Stories of Stewardship.

To learn more about sustainable U.S. wheat production, visit the USW website at USW is also a member of the U.S. Sustainability Alliance where you can see a fact sheet on wheat sustainability.


U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is happy to share a new video series featuring farmers explaining how they responsibly manage the land and natural resources entrusted to their care.

“Stories of Stewardship” premiered Jan. 10, 2024, on Facebook with Episode 1 focusing on the sustainable practices applied by five farm families growing different classes of wheat across the range of conditions in the United States. They share a commitment to farm in ways that sustain economic viability to produce safe, wholesome wheat for the world while ensuring the land is passed on in better condition for future generations.

Watch Now

Watch Episode 1 here and stay tuned as five new episodes are released Jan. 24, Feb. 7, Feb. 21, March 6, and March 20.

USW wants to thank Tom Cannon of Blackwell, Okla., Ben and Stephanie Bowsher of Waynesfield, Ohio, Nick Jorgensen of Ideal, S.D., Art Schultheis of Colton, Wash. (photo above), and Aaron Kjelland of Park River, N.D., for sharing their Stories of Stewardship.

To learn more about sustainable U.S. wheat production, visit the USW website at USW is also a member of the U.S. Sustainability Alliance where you can see a fact sheet on wheat sustainability.


On behalf of the dedicated U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) colleagues around the world and the wheat farmers we represent, we wish you all a joyous, healthy holiday season and a peaceful and prosperous 2024!

U.S. Office Schedule

In recognition of Christmas and New Year’s holidays, the USW Headquarters and West Coast Offices will be closed: Friday, Dec. 22; Monday, Dec. 25; Friday, Dec. 29; and Jan. 1, 2024. The USW Wheat Letter email update will resume its bi-weekly schedule on Jan. 11, 2024. The next USW Price Report will be published Thursday, Dec. 22 and resume its weekly schedule on Jan. 5, 2024.


2023-24 USW Holiday Schedule


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.