News and Information from Around the Wheat Industry

Speaking of Wheat

“The ongoing fighting [in Sudan] is preventing WFP from delivering critical emergency food, providing school meals for children, or preventing and treating malnutrition. WFP also cannot carry out its work to support farmers to boost agriculture productivity in a project that aims to more than double Sudan’s annual wheat production, nor help people rebuild their livelihoods.” – UN World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director Cindy McCain. Read more here.

Obscuring Price Discovery

Cargill’s world trading head Alex Sanfeliu told Bloomberg recently that Russia’s increased control of its wheat exports threatens to obscure prices and curb efficiency in the global grains market. “The price discovery is going to be way more opaque,” and because Russian wheat tends to be the price setter “that puts an additional difficulty for all the wheat traders across the globe.” Read more here.

Bearish News

Barchart Analyst Sean Lusk noted three bearish market factors for wheat this week: rain (finally) in the parched Southern Plains; Canadian spring wheat planting intention estimate coming in above trade expectations; and a UN-confirmed Russian export deal that may have side-stepped Western sanctions. Lusk also commented that “managed funds have pushed out to a net short of approximately 130,000 contracts…that seems to be nearing the record managed short of 171,000 last decade.”

Canadians to Seed More Wheat

Statistics Canada reported this week that farmers will seed 26.968 million acres of wheat, up 6.2% from 2022, the largest area since 2001, if achieved. Spring wheat area is expected to increase 7.5% to 19.39 million acres, durum wheat is expected to edge up 0.9% to 6.06 million acres, while winter wheat area (mostly soft red winter in eastern Canada) is forecast up 12.7% to 1.52 million acres. Mike Jubinville with MarketFarm said, “The gain in spring wheat was anticipated. The one surprise … is a rise rather than slight decline registered in this report on durum acres.” Read more here.

Striking Workers Target Canadian Port

The Wheat Growers Association has called for the Canadian government to allow outside workers to weigh and inspect grain at a Vancouver port as a massive strike by public sector workers threatens shipments. Unionized inspectors at the Cascadia Terminal have purposely targeted the port, according to a news release by the group, which advocates for farmers. The protests could further tighten global supplies already affected by the war in Ukraine.

Rain Arrives; Too Late for Regional HRW Wheat?

Local media are reporting on a good, soaking rain over much of the exceptional drought areas in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Colorado this week. Southwestern Kansas farmer and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) director Gary Millershaski told Brownfield Network rain is “going to help me plant some dryland corn and a lot of milo [sorghum],” but it will not help his winter wheat. In Okarche, Okla., northwest of Oklahoma City, wheat farmer and USW Vice Chairman Michael Peters said rain this week will help with grain fill and could help push his winter wheat yields up to an average of about 25 bushels per, lower than normal but more than expected before the rain.

National Weather Service map of southwest Kansas showing accumulated rainfall on April 26, 2023

Rain At Last. Substantial rain fell in southwestern Kansas April 26, the literal center of an area of exceptional drought. The rain was welcome but mainly as an opportunity to plant spring crops like corn or grain sorghum (milo).

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Last month, World Food Program USA reported that in 2022, for the third consecutive year, “the U.S. shipped over 1 million tons of wheat to global hunger relief efforts. The 1 millionth ton of wheat was loaded aboard the African Halycon cargo vessel and left Washington state on Saturday, November 26.”

As that shipment of donated U.S. soft white (SW) arrives in Yemen this month, USAID has issued two new food aid tenders for about 170,000 metric tons of U.S. hard red winter (HRW) to be donated to Ethiopia.

Six Years of Drought

“Years of drought in the Horn of Africa has created a serious food insecurity situation in Ethiopia and other countries,” said Peter Laudeman, Director of Trade Policy with U.S. Wheat Associates (USW). “The donated wheat will be distributed to local flour mills then to the Ethiopian people.”

A large portion of U.S. food aid is managed by USAID’s Food for Peace office primarily as emergency food assistance. USAID purchases U.S commodities at market price and donates them to meet the immediate nutritional needs of those facing hunger. In other cases, USAID will purchase and donate local or regionally grown commodities or provide market-based food vouchers and cash.

Right Food at the Right Time

The type of assistance varies based on local circumstances and needs. More than 541,000 metric tons of HRW wheat was donated to Ethiopia in 2022 and almost 490,000 metric tons of SW was donated to Yemen last year. These two wheat classes best meet the preferences for Ethiopian and Yemeni wheat food products.

Compared to commercial U.S. wheat sales to date in 2022/23, food aid is the fourth largest destination for HRW, the fifth largest destination for SW, and the seventh largest destination for total U.S. wheat sales.”          – USW Market Analyst Tyllor Ledford

U.S. wheat farmers have been partners in U.S. international food assistance programs for more than 60 years and take pride in sharing their harvest with populations that need it most.

“Those of us in the U.S. food and agriculture community talk all the time about feeding the world,” Laudeman said. “I think these humanitarian, international programs really resonate with farmers.”

Ron Suppes on a food aid monitoring visit to Kenya and Tanzania.

“Farmers are unique stakeholders in the international food aid conversation, and we’ve been loyal partners and advocates of these programs since they started. I want to see us continue our trend of excellence in providing food aid to the countries that need it most,” said Kansas wheat farmer and past USW Chairman Ron Suppes (center) in Congressional testimony after visiting Kenya and Tanzania on a trip to monitor U.S. wheat food aid programs in 2017. Mike Shulte (second from right), executive director of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission, also made the trip.

Big Hearts, Abundant Harvests

People in the U.S. have big hearts and genuinely see a need to step up to the plate when there are populations around the world that are experiencing hunger, whether that’s due to drought in Ethiopia or conflict in Yemen, or any of the other countries that the U.S. has sent aid to,” USW Vice President of Policy Dalton Henry told the World Food Program USA in December. These shipments show “the generosity of U.S. farmers, as they produce an abundance of commodities that can be shared around the world,” Henry said.

USW and the Food Aid Working Group, a joint working group between USW and the National Association of Wheat Growers, are proud of the wheat provided through these food aid programs and believe that commodity donation is an effective portion of the whole effort.