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By Michael Anderson, USW Market Analyst

While drought has dominated the headlines about U.S. wheat, the outlook for the 2021 soft red winter (SRW) wheat crop is a more positive story. Farmers growing this weak gluten class in the eastern third of the United States enjoyed timely rainfall and mild temperatures as the crop developed, leading to good yield potential and at least average quality so far.

The July 6 Crop Progress report published weekly by the National Agricultural Statistics Service indicated the percentage of SRW crops rated in good to excellent condition were 50% in Arkansas, 49% in Missouri, 74% in Illinois, 78% in Indiana and 74% in Ohio.

Big Crop Ahead

Many of the SRW producing states saw planted area increase for the 2021 crop from 5.63 million acres in 2020 to 6.59 million acres according to USDA’s June 30, 2021, Acreage Report.  With yield potential up, too, the 2021 SRW crop is expected to be significantly bigger. At the spring conference of the North American Millers’ Association, millers estimated SRW wheat production for 2021 to increase 25% compared to 2020, to 332.7 million bushels (9.05 MMT). The most recent crop production estimates, published by the USDA in June, forecast SRW bushels to be 335.4 million. Either way, there will be plenty of high-quality SRW available.

2021 soft red winter wheat crop image

Grown in the eastern third of the United States and shipped via Gulf, Atlantic, and Great Lakes ports, soft red winter (SRW) wheat is  a high-yielding wheat with low protein, soft endosperm, red bran, and weak gluten. It is used in pastries, cakes, cookies, crackers, pretzels, flat breads and for blending flours.

The 2021 SRW harvest is well underway. Even with recent rains slowing progress, the July 2 USW Harvest Report showed 57% of the growing region has completed harvest. The report, which will be updated July 9, included grade and non-grade data from analysis of 135 SRW harvest samples from the southern and southeastern states. That data showed an improvement in grade from to U.S. No. 2 week-over-week. Both test weight (TW) and falling number (FN) increased this week compared to last. USW’s goal is to test a total of 300 samples for its 2021 SRW Crop Quality Report.

Better Quality than Expected

Jason Scott, 2016/17 USW Chairman and a Maryland SRW wheat farmer, just completed his harvest and said that the crop was “way better than expected despite a very wet fall.” He added that disease concerns are minimal including limited vomitoxin levels. He said conditions during mid-spring at flowering were dry, which helped hold back pressure from the fusarium (scab) disease that causes vomitoxin.

The image shows a crop and sprayer to illustrate the 2021 soft red winter wheat crop.

A field of soft red winter wheat growing toward maturity on Jason Scott’s farm in Maryland. Scott’s 2021 soft red winter wheat crop produced higher yields and better quality than he expected.

Shawn Branstetter, a SRW wheat trader with The Andersons, noted that SRW quality is good overall in the Mid-Atlantic region, and prospects are expected to stay good.

Brad Reynolds, Communication Director for the Ohio Small Grains Marketing Program (OSGMP), said that with increased production and good quality, overseas customers are interested in the Ohio SRW crop. To date, total SRW exports are up 75% in the 2021/22 marketing year that began June 1 compared to 2020/21. Exports to Mexico, a leading importer of SRW from the U.S., are up 129% compared to the same time last year.

USW Trade Support Included

USW works closely with its state wheat commission members and the U.S. government to help customers get the most value from their U.S. wheat purchases. In 2020, for example, USW’s Mexico City regional office arranged for quality control managers from a Mexican mill to meet with the USDA-ARS Soft Wheat Quality Laboratory in Wooster, Ohio, and OSGMP to identify SRW quality and supply. OSGMP collected samples that were analyzed at the ARS laboratory. Based on the two rounds of tests, the mill identified SRW harvested in 2020 from southern Ohio as having the flour and baking qualities needed to meet their snack food customer’s needs. Supported by additional trade service information from USW and OSGMP, the mill purchased Ohio SRW that was loaded in Toledo, shipped via the St. Lawrence Seaway.

With strong production numbers, promising quality data, and dependable export service, the outlook for the 2021 SRW wheat crop should remain positive.

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This is the story of how grain companies in the U.S. wheat export system in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) overcome challenging logistics to deliver wheat that consistently meets contract specifications to buyers around the world. Grain sellers based in Gulf, Lakes and Atlantic ports operate very similar logistical systems to export wheat and other grains.

Sourcing Wheat From the Interior

An overseas buyer contracts with an exporter for wheat of specific class, grade, quality and price. It is then up to the exporter to source that wheat and get it loaded at the contracted price.

They do this reliably through a very efficient, system that moves the wheat to market using trucks, barges and rail to the vessel, often within a two-week shipping window.

U.S. wheat export system starts at country elevators.

U.S. wheat export system starts at interior elevators where wheat purchased from farmers is loaded onto train cars for delivery to export elevators.

In the U.S. wheat export system, grain sellers source U.S. wheat supplies from local elevators close to the farms.

Hard red spring (HRS) wheat comes mainly from the Dakotas and Montana. Hard red winter (HRW) wheat originates mostly in Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska and some from PNW states.

Those classes are loaded onto dedicated 110 car unit trains that haul the wheat over the Rocky Mountains and down the Columbia River Gorge to the export elevators.

Farmers deliver much of the soft white (SW) and white club wheat grown in Washington, Oregon and Idaho to grain facilities on the Snake, Columbia or Willamette Rivers where it is loaded onto barges or trains for the ports.

In the U.S. wheat export system, barge transportation is efficient and safe.

In the U.S. wheat export system, barges are the most cost-efficient transportation method. In the Pacific Northwest, wheat can move by barge to export elevators from as far away as Idaho because of the series of locks and dams that make safe, efficient navigation possible on the Columbia-Snake River System.

Because U.S. wheat is graded and segregated by class and quality at every step of the supply system, the export elevator knows they will receive the wheat they need to fill their customer’s contract.

Highly Automated Process

The receiving process at elevators in the U.S. wheat export system is highly automated. Numerous sensors and cameras allow only a few people to unload the wheat very quickly into temporary holding bins segregated by class, grade and quality.

Barges in this tributary can discharge 600 metric tons of wheat per hour. Unit train cars are opened and unloaded in less than 18 hours.

The export elevator’s shipping system is also automated. One person from a control room can select wheat from different storage bins and blend them together to be loaded onto the bulk vessel the buyer has chartered.

But, under U.S. law, that cannot happen until the wheat is inspected to certify that the quality loaded matches the customer’s specifications.

This highly regulated, standardized process is conducted by the USDA’s Federal Grain Inspection Service, or a state inspection agency supervised by and subject to the same standards as FGIS.

FGIS inspection and certification is required by law in the U.S. wheat export system.

FGIS inspection makes  the U.S. wheat export system uniquely valuable. A random sample of every sub lot of wheat is broken down into specified quantities by FGIS officials and weighing, inspection and certification is standardized and objective. FGIS inspection data also yields information that buyers can use to get the most value from their tenders. 

In this process, a specific amount of wheat is sampled every 15 to 20 seconds as it flows from the elevator into designated shipping bins holding from 1,000 to 2,000 metric tons.

The sample is collected in the FGIS lab at the elevator and the shipping bins remain closed while FGIS inspects each sample.

When the inspectors certify that the sample meets the customer’s contract specifications, FGIS opens the shipping bins, allowing the elevator to load that wheat onto the vessel. If not, the wheat in the shipping bin is returned to the elevator to be re-blended.

Quality Assurance

FGIS saves sub-lot samples from each shipping bin for 90 days in case an issue comes up when the wheat arrives at its destination.

To give the buyer additional quality assurance, about 10 percent of all samples are sent to a national FGIS Board of Appeals and Review to be re-inspected for quality control monitoring.

Those inspections generate valuable data that customers can use to get even more value from their purchases of high-quality U.S. wheat. Your U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) representative can help you make good use of this information as you write your tenders.

In the U.S. wheat export system, grain companies move wheat from inland farms and elevators to deep water ports more efficiently and economically than any wheat supply system in the world.

In the U.S. wheat export system, grain companies move wheat from inland farms and elevators to deep water ports more efficiently and economically than any wheat supply system in the world.

It is very reassuring to wheat importers that U.S. grain handlers segregate wheat by class and quality, and maintain its wholesome character, while moving wheat from inland farms and elevators to deep water ports more efficiently and economically than any wheat supply system in the world.

Learn More

More information about the U.S. wheat export supply system is available from USW online or from your local representative, including an interactive map of the system, a section on “How to Buy U.S. Wheat” and other resources.

 

 

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Every farmer marks the passage of the year by the work that must be done. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) recently described the planning and decision-making that go into seeding a wheat crop in the fall or spring.

As the crop grows, the work continues. Even with a good stand, crucial midseason factors must be monitored, and making responsible decisions on the farm ensure efforts are not wasted and the ultimate consumer of that wheat is satisfied that it is a wholesome ingredient in hundreds of wheat food products.

“Now there are decisions and risks and potential problems that must be checked every day,” Montana wheat farmer Angie Hucke told USW in a story about her family’s farm.

Each farmer is constantly making responsible decisions on the farm about soil fertility as well as weed, disease and insect control that may be needed to protect the crop’s yield and quality potential.

But like Kansas farmer Justin Knopf, they keep in mind the fact that members of their communities and families, as well as families around the United States and the world will be consuming the crop as a food ingredient.

“I always weigh those trade-offs with the end in mind and in a responsible way that consumers can be confident that we’ve done our due diligence at making responsible decisions in utilizing products on our farm, Knopf said.

 

As a part of its film, “Wholesome: The Journey of U.S. Wheat,”  USW is sharing individual chapters of the video throughout the year. “Midseason: Caring for the Crop” provides more information about how U.S. wheat growers are making responsible decisions on the farm.

 

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U.S. wheat Associates (USW) Market Analyst Michael Anderson recently prepared a Wheat Supply and Demand Outlook report based on USDA’s latest market data published in May 2021.

The report is shared with the USW Board of Directors three times per year. Directors include wheat farmer leaders representing the organization’s 17 state wheat commission members.

Vie the full Summer 2021 report online here.

The World Wheat Supply and Demand Outlook includes the first look at USDA’s estimates of marketing year 2021/22 (June 1 to May 31) world wheat supply and demand and production in the major wheat exporting countries and regions. U.S. by-class estimates for 2021/22 are not published until July, but this report includes USDA’s estimate of U.S. commercial wheat sales for 2020/21 and its first forecast for 2021/22.

USDA Production and Use data to support world wheat supply and demand outlook.

USDA’s latest forecast continues the trend of record world wheat supply and demand.

USDA sees a record-setting trend in world wheat production and use continuing in 2021/22. Based on USDA’s May estimates, total world wheat production is expected to reach a record 794.4 million metric tons (MMT). Among exporting regions, production is forecast to increase in the United States, the Black Sea (Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan), the European Union (EU) and Argentina. Declines are expected in Australia and Canada. USDA estimates 2021/22 world wheat ending stocks will reach 296.8 MMT, a volume similar to last year.

Higher global production is matched by increased global demand as USDA expects total global wheat consumption will reach a record 791.1 MMT, or 9.6 MMT more than last year. This forecast is driven primarily by higher feed and residual use. Global human consumption of wheat is expected to increase 1% on the year but still a record level of 630.4 MMT. USDA expects global trade to reach 203.2 MMT, up 4.1 MMT from last year.

2021/22 U.S. Commercial Sales

Throughout the year, even in the face of the pandemic restrictions on travel and meetings, USW representatives were able to sustain a strong level of service and information flow to its customers, with support from its state commission members and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service export market development programs.

The World Wheat Supply and Demand Outlook report shows USDA’s final estimate of total 2020/21 U.S. wheat commercial sales was 25.5 MMT, 4% less than in 2019/20. In part because of larger exportable supplies in other major exporting regions, USDA currently expects 2021/22 U.S. wheat export sales to be 24.5 MMT.

2020/21 U.S. wheat commercial sales by class and importing country

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Recent news and highlights from around the U.S. wheat industry.

Speaking of Wheat.

“I don’t think anybody is expecting to see anything that is above average, for certain. Average would be ambitious. We’re probably looking at below-average overall. As an industry, agriculture has a huge ripple effect down the supply chain. You need to have a healthy agriculture industry to have a healthy economy overall. We’re resilient. I will say, it will be an extraordinarily tough year with what we have out there.” – Amanda Hoey, chief executive officer, Oregon Wheat Growers League and Oregon Wheat Commission. Read more about the record-breaking drought condition U.S. wheat farmers are facing here and here.

NAWG CEO Visits PNW to Discuss the Importance of the Columbia-Snake River System. This week, NAWG CEO Chandler Goule toured the dams and rivers that transport 40% of all U.S. wheat to markets overseas. Approximately 15 million metric tons (MMT) of wheat were transported on the Columbia-Snake River system in 2020, making it the nation’s single largest wheat export gateway. Goule joined several national and regional agricultural leaders to learn and join discussions about preserving the waters and how crucial they are to the success of U.S. wheat farmers. Read more about the visit here and here.

National Wheat Yield Contest for Spring Wheat. Registration for the spring wheat portion of the National Wheat Yield Contest is open. Spring wheat entries will be accepted until August 1. The contest offers U.S. wheat farmers the opportunity to compete with their peers across the United States and learn from each other’s innovative techniques to improve wheat productivity. Registration is available here.

From the Field: Farm Chat with Idaho Wheat. The Idaho Wheat Commission has taken its monthly webinar series “From the Field: Farm Chat with Idaho Wheat” and repurposed it for listening on the go. The webinars are now available as podcasts on Spotify and other preferred podcast platforms and YouTube. Join Idaho Wheat for conversations with Idaho wheat growers and experts on a wide range of topics related directly to production and profitability on the farm.

The Passing of Lajpat “Pat” R. Kandhari. USW received news today that our retired colleague Pat Kandhari has passed away in India. Pat was promoting U.S. wheat in India even before there was a Western Wheat Associates, already working as Assistant Director in a New Delhi office funded by Pacific Northwest state wheat organizations in April 1958. He continued in that position until he was named Director in 1974, six years before USW was formed. USW closed the Delhi office almost exactly 20 years ago, in June 2001, when Pat retired. We send our sincere condolences to Pat’s family and friends.

The late Lajpat “Pat” Kandhari, left, visited the USW office in Washington, D.C, in 2007. He is joined here (left to right) by USW Vice President of Finance Kevin McGarry, former Assistant to the Vice President of Marketing Programs Fleur Noeth, former Vice President of Marketing Programs Rick Callies, and former Vice President of Planning Jim Frahm.

U.S. Wheat Associates Publishes Commercial Sales every Thursday, documenting wheat export sales-to-date by country and class for the current marketing year compared to the previous marketing year on the same date. The report includes a 10-year commercial sales history by class and country. Data is sourced from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service Weekly Export Sales Report. Read the latest report on the USW website.

Subscribe to USW Reports. USW publishes various reports and content that are available to subscribe to, including a bi-weekly newsletter highlighting recent Wheat Letter blog posts, the weekly Price Report and the weekly Harvest Report (available May to October). Subscribe here.

Follow USW Online. Visit our Facebook page for the latest updates, photos and discussions of what is going on in the world of wheat. Also, find breaking news on Twitter, video stories on Vimeo and more on LinkedIn.

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By Michael Anderson, USW Market Analyst

Hot, dry weather following a parched fall and a winter with less snow in some areas has many parts of Washington, Oregon and Idaho experiencing some of the driest weather in a generation. Much of the area that grows spring and winter soft white (SW) and white club wheat is experiencing some form of drought. All eyes will be on USDA’s first estimate of new crop SW production in its July World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, although a reduction in yield potential and concerns about protein levels are already anticipated.

The market has reacted to the weather with FOB prices for ordinary SW up $140.00 per metric ton ($4.00 per bushel) more than a year ago. Demand for the 2020/21 SW crop was quite strong and ending stocks of 1.31 million metric tons are half of what they were in 2019/20. The stocks-to-use ratio for SW ended the year at only 13%.

Now, the hot dry weather leaves farmers unwilling to forward contract new crop sales as they struggle to identify what volume they will produce and because dry conditions tend to increase protein, what protein levels they will be able to offer. Traders are cautious because the drought’s effect on protein levels could make securing lower protein SW difficult. It is important to remember that SW protein levels have been elevated in some past years. Your local U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) office is an excellent resource to help you identify how to get the most value from every new crop.

Showing the U.S. Drought Monitor for the Western states.

Extreme drought is intensifying in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the western United States.

Michelle Hennings, Executive Director of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers, recently noted that while winter planted SW is stressed with lower yield potential, spring planted SW has had so little moisture some farmers may not have any harvest.

Washington state, which accounts for around 50% of the Pacific Northwest (PNW) SW crop, has received only half of its usual average rainfall according to NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information and areas falling into the drought category makeup well over half the state. Areas rated in extreme drought are increasing fast week-over-week and winter wheat conditions in Washington are rated 15% good to excellent.

Karin Bumbaco, Assistant State Climatologist, University of Washington, recently noted that the drought in the state has expanded quickly. Just three months ago none of Washington was in extreme drought versus today when more than 23% of the state – and almost all the state’s wheat country – falls into the category (see the PNW SW wheat production area above from the interactive U.S. wheat export supply system map on www.uswheat.org).

Driest in More than 40 Years

The once-in-a-generation drought led one farmer to observe “if you can get an average crop, consider yourself lucky!”

This photo by Anna King, Northwest News Network, from an article in NPR.org shows severe drought stress on wheat in Washington state.

This photo by Anna King, Northwest News Network, from an article in NPR.org shows severe drought stress on wheat in Washington state.

Darren Padget, a dryland wheat farmer in north-central Oregon and the current USW Chairman, noted that harvest may come early this year. The lack of rain has matured his crop enough that harvest, which usually comes at the end of July, may start in less than a month. Padget also mentioned that it is the driest weather he has seen since 1977, a year many farmers remember when looking for a comparison to this year. In Oregon, which accounts for around 20% of the PNW SW crop, winter wheat conditions are rated 11% good to excellent.

Some Good to Excellent Wheat

Idaho, which accounts for around 30% of the PNW SW crop, has also been very dry. Similar to neighboring states, spring planted SW in Idaho is severely stressed, especially on non-irrigated fields. However, some wheat in Idaho is grown under irrigation and farmers there are more optimistic about the condition of fall planted SW fields. In fact, USDA’s latest report puts 44% of SW winter wheat in good to excellent condition.

Despite the challenges to the 2021/22 PNW SW crop, many farmers do have crop insurance and the state governments are also considering other ways to help farmers through this challenge, and USW is there for overseas buyers who have questions and concerns.

Producers, by nature, remain optimistic. One producer in Washington state put it best: “…we are not going to give up.”

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Originally printed in Dakota Gold, June 2020, Volume 37, No. 4; Reprinted with permission from the North Dakota Wheat Commission

Dr. Senay Simsek, Bert L. D’Appolonia Cereal Science and Technology of Wheat Endowed Professor, will be leaving North Dakota State University (NDSU) at the end of June to take a position at Purdue University as the head of the Food Science Department. Even though she may be leaving NDSU, the work that she has done will leave a lasting impact.

Dr. Simsek began her career at NDSU in 2007 after obtaining her Ph.D. from Purdue. While she was fairly new to world of wheat, her background in cereal and food chemistry prepared her well for the role.

A significant portion of Dr. Simsek’s position has been to manage the wheat quality lab at NDSU. The lab analyzes thousands of spring wheat lines each year, including breeder material and samples for the regional crop quality report that is used by thousands of customers each year. Simsek also took on numerous graduate students in her 14 years at NDSU, training the next generation of cereal science professionals. She completed extensive amounts of research, mostly related to wheat quality and performance, many of the ideas which came about after discussions with domestic and international customers and her desire to help solve issues or answer questions customers had about various topics.

Showing Dr. Senay Simsek at work for USW in the Philippines

During one of her many consulting activities promoting U.S. spring wheat, Dr. Senay Simsek paused with Ellison Dean Lee, Managing Director, Universal Robina Co. Flour, Philippines, to point out the American Quality Wheat seal on packages of URC’s Baker John brand pan bread.

Clear Competence

Joe Sowers, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Regional Vice President based in the Philippines recalls the first time he met Dr. Simsek in Fargo with a high-level delegation of Filipino millers.

“Through Senay’s affable charisma and clear competence in discussing wheat quality, she and the millers became fast friends. At the end of the meeting the Director of the Philippine Flour Millers Association told me that training from Dr. Simsek was what his industry needed,” Sowers said.

The next year Dr. Simsek provided her first training to the Philippine millers and returned ten times after that, fostering strong relationships with millers in the Philippines and helping to maintain the country as the top HRS market. Dr. Simsek provided training in many other countries and presented on USW sponsored crop quality tours in all the major regions – reaching thousands of customers during her career at NDSU.

“Every visit Senay made to various customers around the world paid off for U.S. wheat farmers,” Sowers added. “Her ability to illustrate the superior quality profiles offered by U.S. HRS was integral in proving its value to the milling and baking industries, reinforcing their preference for U.S. HRS.”

Passion for Wheat Quality

Presenting quality data, conducting training, and completing research on behalf of customers became a top priority for Simsek and one that benefited producers tremendously. Greg Svenningsen, NDWC Chairman says, “when you saw her interacting with a trade team, you could easily see her passion for wheat quality and that her expertise was well received by customers. As a producer, I didn’t always understand the topic or the in-depth technicalities of some of the discussion, but what was evident was that she was providing much needed information to the industry and to our customers. In return, they could better understand our wheat and be maintained as customers.”

Dr. Senay Simsek at Northern Crops Institute

Dr. Senay Simsek enjoys a light moment with USW Regional Vice President Matt Weimar (L) and USW Baking Consultant Roy Chung (R) during one of the many events in which she participated with USW.

Sowers and others in the industry that traveled with Dr. Simsek over the years noted that her energy, friendliness, and willingness to build relationships with customers melded with her extensive scientific background to make her a sought-after resource for customers. While Dr. Simsek will be missed by colleagues at NDSU and North Dakota producers, we hope to see her involved with U.S. wheat promotion in some format.

Dr. Senay Simsek and USW's Joe Sowers at Philippines flour mill.

Dr. Senay Simsek and USW Regional Vice President Joe Sowers (L) with a flour milling team in the Philippines.

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By Dalton Henry, USW Vice President of Policy

It is a country that imports about 800,000 metric tons of wheat each year, a mere 90 miles from the United States. Yet the Cuban wheat market has long been a source of optimism and frustration for U.S. wheat farmers. With the change in administrations, there is hope for re-engagement with Cuba, but ultimately the 60-year-old embargo and associated policies still stand as a solid barrier to beneficial trade.

General public opinion polls on Cuba policy consistently show most Americans favor more engagement, the last decade has seen a roller coaster of changes in U.S. policy. Under the Obama-Biden Administration, there were efforts to establish a new relationship and relax tensions. This included a new interpretation of “cash in advance” rules that apply to payment for any agricultural commodities, bilateral exchanges by technical staff in regulatory agencies and the reopening of the U.S. embassy in Havana. However, none of those changes resulted in actual wheat purchases. Then the Trump Administration further restricted trade by limiting any business conducted between American companies and state-owned companies (such as flour mills) in Cuba.


“Wheat is an important food grain that should be above politics, but the embargo will likely have to end before wheat farmers can help … feed the Cuban people.”


With Biden’s return to the White House, Cuba watchers are anxiously awaiting the next curve in the roller coaster ride and are optimistic the administration will return to the Obama-Biden policy of re-engagement. However, any realistic effort to expand ag trade with Cuba needs to focus on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue by working to secure meaningful change within the halls of Congress and addressing the bipartisan opposition to trade with Cuba.

Just such a Congressional effort was launched last week by U.S. Senators John Boozman of Arkansas and Michael Bennet of Colorado with the introduction of the Agricultural Export Expansion Act. That bill would allow private financing of agricultural commodities by U.S. companies – a small first step toward normalizing the trading relationship, but an important one to put U.S. companies on a near level playing field when working with Cuban buyers. Several U.S. agricultural organizations including U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) signed a letter of support for the effort as ad hoc members of the United States Agricultural Coalition for Cuba.

More Legislation

The Ag Export Expansion bill is not the only pro-normalization effort within Congress. U.S. Senators Jerry Moran of Kansas, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Patrick Leahy of Vermont, all long-time Cuba trade advocates, earlier this year introduced the Freedom to Export to Cuba Act, which would lift substantial portions of the embargo, including restrictions prohibiting transactions between U.S. and Cuban firms.

Farmers are right to be interested in opening the Cuban wheat market. Cuba produces no wheat domestically and would be a substantial U.S. market if government barriers were to be lifted. But for any of that optimism to come to fruition, it is going to take a literal act of Congress.

“Wheat is an important food grain that should be above politics,” said former USW President Alan Tracy in 2017, “but the embargo will likely have to end before wheat farmers can help meet the increasing demand for agricultural products to help feed the Cuban people.”

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By Jay Sjerven, Food Business News, June 8, 2021, Courtesy of Sosland Publishing Co.

U.S. wheat farmers know that promoting sustainability is increasingly important to the world’s buyers and wheat food processors. In this article, reprinted courtesy of Sosland Publishing Co., the CEO of Cargill, emphasizes how farmers and agricultural companies are moving forward.


Farmers and ranchers are heroes of the food system, playing a critical role in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and embracing practices and technologies to produce food more sustainably, David MacLennan, chairman and chief executive officer, Cargill, told members of the National Grain and Feed Association on June 4 at that association’s 125th annual convention, which was held in person in Colorado Springs as well as virtually.

“When the world shut down, farmers, ranchers and workers across the food system stepped up to meet the challenge to produce the food and feed that billions of people and animals around the world depend on,” he said.

Photo of Mr. MacLennan, Cargill, speaking on promoting sustainability

David W. MacLennan, Chairman, CEO, Cargill

Mr. MacLennan acknowledged that while disruptions of COVID-19 are still very much at play, the pandemic is not the only urgent challenge the food and agricultural industry faces.

“The greatest challenge we face is feeding a rapidly growing population, sustainably and responsibly – reducing our emissions, protecting our water resources, and improving the health of the soil our crops and harvests depend on,” he said. “Agriculture is part of the solution the world needs right now. Agriculture is how we’ll solve climate change and sustainably feed a growing population.”

Promoting Sustainability

Mr. MacLennan emphasized the need for broad and lasting efforts at every point in the supply chain to sustainably and responsibly feed a rapidly growing population estimated to reach close to 10 billion people by 2050.

“Inaction is not an option,” he said. “Too often, our industry gets blamed for climate change. I see a different story. Farmers and ranchers are the heroes of our food system. And they play a critical role in creating a more sustainable future for our industry, and the world. The changes we make at the roots of our supply chain will deliver the greatest impact – by reducing emissions, improving water quality, sequestering carbon, and building up the resilience of our soils for the next generation. Companies can set as many climate goals as we want. But without the support and leadership of farmers, none of it will happen. They’ve got to lead the way, and we’re here to partner with them in this important, ongoing effort.”


“When the world shut down, farmers, ranchers and workers across the food system stepped up to meet the challenge to produce the food billions of people depend on.”


Significant Strides

Mr. MacLennan said Cargill has made significant strides promoting sustainability, including its own science-based climate commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in its global supply chains by 30% per ton of product by 2030. He noted the company also is working to support voluntary, farmer-led adoption of regenerative agriculture across 10 million acres of North American farmland over the same period.

Through financial contributions and partnerships across the supply chain, Cargill is supporting and training farmers, and helping remove financial barriers they may face, in rebuilding the health of their soils, planting cover crops, using more sustainable grazing practices, and making better use of their water, Mr. MacLennan explained. He pointed to the example of the Iowa Soil & Water Outcomes Fund, through which farmers may receive $30 to $50 per acre for practices such as cover crops, reduced tillage, and optimized nutrient management.

Mr. MacLennan added Cargill also is advancing research to evaluate the economic benefits of regenerative agriculture. He noted in a study of 100 farmers across nine states conducted by The Soil Health Institute, researchers found that soil health management systems increased incomes for 85% of farmers growing corn and 88% of farmers growing soybeans. Average incomes increased by $52 per acre for corn growers and $45 per acre for soybean growers. Mr. MacLennan added participating farmers reported reduced average costs, increased yields, better crop resilience against extreme weather events, and improved water quality.

“Farmers are leading the way,” he said. “They’re on the front lines of climate change every day. And we need to lift up the good work they’re doing already. The benefits of regenerative agriculture are clear. But so are the barriers. To see change, we have to work together. Agriculture is how we’ll get it done.”


Read other stories in this series:

Special Climate and Sustainability Committee Launched on Earth Day
Precision Agriculture Improves Environmental Stewardship While Increasing Yields
U.S. Farmers Always Think About Economic and Environmental Sustainability
Technology, Innovative Farming Practices Advance Wheat Farm Sustainability
Minnesota Farmer Spread the News with His Conservation Practices
U.S. Farmers Embrace Conversation Practices
Farmers Look to New Technologies to Foster Precision Agriculture

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Recent news and highlights from around the U.S. wheat industry.

Speaking of Wheat. “Jumping from colder than usual temperatures to high heat, crop conditions are unlikely to stay this favorable for long, especially if drought conditions worsen. These weather shocks are likely to impact estimates for crop supply in the 2021/22 marketing year as demand continues to increase and push prices toward their highest levels since 2013.” – Shelby Myers, Economist, American Farm Bureau Federation. Read more here.

USDA’s New WASDE Report released 6/10/21 raised 2020/21 U.S. exports by 544,366 MT to 26.81 MMT. USDA also estimates larger U.S. wheat supplies, higher domestic use, unchanged exports, and slightly lower stocks for 2021/22. All wheat production is now projected at 51.66 MMT on increased HRW and SRW production, offsetting lower white winter production. The global wheat outlook for 2021/22 is for larger supplies, higher consumption, increased trade, and higher stocks. Global production and use are expected to set new record highs in 2021/22. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) will update its World Wheat Supply and Demand Report this week.

Creating Value of U.S. Wheat: Through Solvent Retention Capacity. Registration is open for USW’s next monthly technical webinar on June 16. This webinar series provides technical guidance to add value for customers as they make their wheat purchasing decisions. USW technical experts Roy Chung and Tarik Gahi will discuss using SRC analysis as a tool for product quality, with fresh insights into SRC methods, solvent preparation and troubleshooting. Register for the webinar here.

Montana Wheat and Barley Committee is Hiring. The Montana Wheat and Barley Committee (MWBC) is recruiting to fill its Market Development & Communications Specialist position. This position is responsible for the administration of MWBC’s market development activities, as well as content development, communications and outreach efforts. Learn more about the position and how to apply here.

The 2021 U.S. Wheat Harvest is underway. USW publishes its Harvest Report every Friday afternoon, Eastern Daylight Time, throughout the season with updates and comments on harvest progress, crop conditions and current crop quality for hard red winter (HRW), soft red winter (SRW), hard red spring (HRS), soft white (SW) and durum wheat. Subscribe to receive the report directly to your inbox here. Follow along on social media using #wheatharvest21.

U.S. Wheat Associates Publishes Commercial Sales every Thursday, documenting wheat export sales-to-date by country and class for the current marketing year compared to the previous marketing year on the same date. The report includes a 10-year commercial sales history by class and country. Data is sourced from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service Weekly Export Sales Report. Read the latest report on the USW website.

Subscribe to USW Reports. USW publishes various reports and content that are available to subscribe to, including a bi-weekly newsletter highlighting recent Wheat Letter blog posts, the weekly Price Report and the weekly Harvest Report (available May to October). Subscribe here.

Follow USW Online. Visit our Facebook page for the latest updates, photos and discussions of what is going on in the world of wheat. Also, find breaking news on Twitter, video stories on Vimeo and more on LinkedIn.