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Wheat Letter – September 5, 2019

Wheat Letter – September 5, 2019

September 5, 2019


Columbia and Snake River Systems Have a Crucial Role in Moving Grain to Port

Originally published August 29, 2019

Early in 2019, I attended a presentation given by the Executive Director of the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association (PNWA), Kristin Meira. In the audience were farmers eager to hear how U.S. legislators shared their interests regarding the ongoing navigability of the Columbia and Snake River systems. Open waterways are a crucial and efficient source for U.S. farmers to export their product to international markets. In the Pacific Northwest, the Columbia and Snake River systems are a leading gateway for wheat exports with 53% of U.S. wheat destined for export coming down the Columbia River alone. The rivers can move more volume at once, with greater fuel efficiency, making them more effective for moving grain to market then by rail or truck. One barge can carry the same amount as 35 rail cars or 134 18-wheelers, and a barge tow can carry more than one 100-unit train or 538 trucks. One barge can travel 647 miles on just one gallon of gas, while a train travels 477 miles and a truck travels 145 miles.

Read the full article here.


“Breeding for Better Wheat” Illustrates Innovations 

Originally published September 3, 2019

Wheat is a staple of diets across the world. In fact, it is the source of about 20 percent of the calories consumed worldwide. Researchers at Kansas State University are using innovative methods like gene editing to breed wheat with added benefits, including lower gluten options that could one day allow people with gluten sensitivities to enjoy bread and other wheat-based foods. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is pleased to share more information about plant breeding innovations in wheat in “Part 3 of the Plant Breeding Innovation” video series from the American Seed Trade Association and CropLife International. Read the full article here.


Drought-Fueled Production Losses in Australia Alter Global Wheat Trade

Originally published September 4, 2019

Prolonged drought has severely impacted Australia’s wheat production and, as a result, contributed to a significant shift in world wheat trade. If current weather conditions in Australia persist, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) believes these export trends could continue through marketing year (MY) 2019/20 and beyond. According to USDA data, in the five years leading up to drought conditions that started in 2017, Australia exported an average of 18.5 million metric tons (MMT) of wheat per year. In MY 2016/17, Australian wheat production reached a record 31.8 MMT and exports reached 22.6 MMT, their highest level since MY 2011/12 (a significant portion of this volume was wheat exported for animal feed). In MY 2017/18, however, reduced supplies led to a sharp fall in Australian wheat exports to 13.8 MMT. In MY 2018/19, exports fell again to 9.0 MMT after Australian wheat production declined to 17.3 MMT. Read the full article here.


Scenes from the USW 2019 World Staff Conference

Originally published September 5, 2019

More than 90 U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) staff, stakeholders and customers recently came together in Barcelona, Spain, at what USW President Vince Peterson called the best World Staff Conference (WSC) the organization has held in many years. The conferences provide a rare but valuable opportunity for USW overseas and domestic staff to meet in person and share challenges and opportunities associated with the organization’s mission to develop, maintain and expand international markets to enhance wheat’s profitability for U.S. wheat producers and its value for their customers.

The 2019 conference included general sessions with all participants and breakout sessions focused on “Proving the Value of U.S. Wheat.” Read the full article and see more photos here.


“There’s a real purpose in this job … there’s a calling when you’re working for an entire industry … I’ve made a lot of relationships and worked for some great companies in the ag space, but the opportunity to represent the U.S. farmer in foreign markets is really something that appeals to me Ryan LeGrand, President and CEO, U.S. Grains Council quoted in an article in “Feed” 


Genetic Diversity Crucial to Wheat Supply. To safeguard food supplies and ensure durable disease resistance in wheat, scientists must embrace a globally integrated strategy that deploys resistance genes in a coordinated way, according to Maricelis Acevedo, associate director of science for the Delivering Genetic Gain in Wheat (DGGW) project in International Programs in Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Read more in this article from the “Cornell Chronicle.

Brazil Wheat TRQ to Open? TReuters reported Sept. 3 that the president of the Brazil’s wheat industry group Abitrigo said at a press conference that Brazil is expected to introduce a tariff-free wheat import quota of 750,000 metric tons per year starting from 2020. The report said Brazil announced the opening of the TRQ earlier this year in connection with President Jair Bolsonaro’s visit to the United States, with U.S. wheat producers seen as potential beneficiaries, although the policy has yet to be instituted. Read the story:

Trade War Impacts.  The folks who work at USW are big fans of Michelle Erickson-Jones of Montana or, as she is known on Twitter, @bigskyfarmher. In a recent article by Helen Santoro in “High Country News,” Michelle talks about the additional strain from trade issues on Montana farmers already hit hard by low crop prices. From the article: It may still be a while before producers like Erickson-Johnson turn a profit. “I would like to keep operating,” she said, but the trade war “definitely puts a little bit of a dimmer on the future of agriculture.” Read the entire article online at

Register for the 2019 World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium.  The 2019 Symposium theme, “Pax Agricultura: Peace Through Agriculture,” will serve as an opportunity to take stock of the current state of global agriculture and food security. Learn more and register here.

Source: U.S. Wheat Associates