U.S. Per Capita Flour Consumption Ticks Up in 2018
World-Grain – 05/21/2019
Lifted by sluggish population growth and record imports, per capita consumption of flour edged upward in 2018, topping 132 lbs for the first time since 2015, according to data published by the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. At 132.1 lbs, per capita consumption of flour was up 0.3 lbs, or a quarter of one per cent, from 131.8 in 2017 and compared with 131.7 in 2016. Other than the past two years, per capita flour consumption in 2018 was the smallest in decades and well below the recent peak of 138.3 lbs in 2007.Helping per capita consumption score a gain in 2018 was a marked decline in the birthrate. The population last year averaged 328,631,000, up 0.19% from 327,997,000 in 2017. The increase was the smallest on record and was negligible compared with 0.77% the previous two years and the recent peak of 1.2% in 2015.
Bill Looks to Expand Ag Exports to Cuba
Sens. Michael Bennet (D., Colo.) and John Boozman (R., Ark.) introduced the Agricultural Export Expansion Act (S. 1447), legislation that would make it easier for American farmers to sell their goods to Cuba by removing restrictions on private financing for U.S. agricultural exports to the island nation. Cuba imports about $2 billion in agricultural products annually. However, due to the U.S.’s cash-in-advance requirement, Cuba is left with little choice but to turn, instead, to international competitors like the European Union, Brazil and Vietnam. U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba have declined every year since 2009 in terms of dollar amount, market share and the variety of products shipped. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that lifting these limits on farmers through the proposed legislation would save U.S. taxpayers $690 million over 10 years.
The 2018 farm bill took steps to help American agriculture access the Cuban market by allowing funding for U.S. Department of Agriculture export programs that promote use of U.S. agricultural products in Cuba. However, the biggest barrier for producers as they seek access to Cuba is the Trade Sanctions & Reform Act (TSRA) prohibition on providing private credit for those exports, which forces Cuba to pay with cash up front for American-grown food.
As U.S. Trade Relations with Canada and Mexico Ease, Idaho Wheat Focuses on Far East
Boise State Public Radio – 05/21/2019
As trade tensions escalate with China, the U.S. appears to be normalizing things with trading partners Canada and Mexico. The shifting relationship is good news for Idaho wheat. The stars appear to be aligning for passage of the president’s revamped NAFTA deal, called the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA. Late last week, the U.S. lifted tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from its North American neighbors. In response, those countries dropped retaliatory tariffs on a range of U.S. products, including agricultural goods. “Fewer tariffs the better, because about half of Idaho wheat is exported,” says Blaine Jacobson, the executive director of the Idaho Wheat Commission. He says the de-escalation with Canada and Mexico, ahead of a possible signing of the USMCA, is a good thing. “Whether it is wheat being exported from Idaho or wheat being exported from Texas or Kansas or Oklahoma, exporting wheat is good because it helps the grower,” says Jacobson. “Even though it may not be their wheat, it moves the price of wheat up.” Jacobson says he’s keeping a keen eye on a prospective bi-lateral trade deal between the U.S. and Japan. That country is the largest overseas market for Idaho wheat.
USDA Rushes Trade Aid; Farm Groups Make Pitches
Agri-Pulse – 05/22/2019
Agriculture Secretary Perdue is planning to head over to the White House this week to make a presentation on how the department is proposing to dole out $15 billion to $20 billion in what is tentatively being called the “Farming Support Program” for producers who continue to bear the brunt of President Donald Trump’s trade war with China, government officials tell Agri-Pulse. So far, it’s looking like at least some farmers may be getting bigger payments than they did under the first trade assistance package unveiled by USDA last year. Bloomberg reported Tuesday that USDA is considering payments of $2 per bushel for soybean farmers, 63 cents per bushels for wheat, and 4 cents per bushel for corn, but USDA is casting doubt on those numbers. After first refusing to confirm or deny the reported numbers, USDA later issued a statement critical of “inaccurate media stories.” The previous $12 billion trade package contained direct payments under a Market Facilitation Program that included $1.65 for soybeans, 14 cents for wheat, and 1 cent for corn. There were also payments for cotton (6 cents per pound), sorghum (86 cents per bushel), dairy (12 cents per hundredweight), hogs ($8 per head), almonds (3 cents per pound) and fresh sweet cherries (16 cents per pound).
Workshop Aims to Cover Consumer Information
FarmTalk – 05/21/2019
Third generation baker Jay Fernandez knows bread. His hands can shape and score rolls like a well-oiled machine. By touch he can intuit when to add more water or flour to get the perfect dough. But he admits to knowing virtually nothing about the wheat required to make his artfully sculpted loaves. “I’ve been baking for 45 years, and today is the first time I’ve ever been in a wheat field,” he said recently. “That’s how disconnected you can be from your food source.” Fernandez was an instructor — and a participant — at Oklahoma State University’s first-ever “All You Knead to Know” artisan and grain workshop, which brought together roughly three-dozen home bakers and professional chefs, product developers and extension educators, for a one-day odyssey from test plot to pasta pot, that aimed to demystify wheat, flour and bread along the way.
Participants met inside a classroom at the OSU Botanical Garden and traveled in several vans to off-site locations around Stillwater…At an earlier stop, OSU chief wheat breeder Brett Carver went even further back in time, explaining the natural hybridization process that occurred 8,000 years ago to turn wild grass into grain. At a demonstration plot planted next to the Stillwater Community Center, the group viewed small plantings of modern varieties side-by-side with ancient wheat ancestors like einkorn and emmer, which still grow wild in parts of the Middle East. The fuller, fatter heads of the Smith’s Gold variety were clearly distinguishable from the longer thinner heads of original Turkey Red, which also grow on taller stalks.
Source: U.S. Wheat Associates