U.S. farm families have always had to bear substantial risk to produce a high quality, reliable wheat supply for buyers in more than 100 countries. For example, producers harvesting their hard red winter (HRW) wheat at the start of the 2010/11 marketing year are seeing the cash value of their crop fall dramatically.
This is, however, a very healthy HRW crop. Yields are running above average and test weights have been as high as 62 pounds per bushel, promising strong milling characteristics. Country elevators are cautious, though, about protein levels, so the state commissions and Plains Grains, Inc. are quickly performing baking quality tests to help provide a more complete picture of crop quality as soon as possible (see Harvest Reports at http://www.uswheat.org/reports/harvest).
While the inevitable result of the current market situation is a concern for U.S. wheat producers, it must be shared with the world’s wheat buyers. FOB prices for U.S. HRW have reached levels that are extremely competitive with supplies from Russia, Ukraine, the EU, and Argentina (see Harvest Pressure Brings Buying Opportunities, below). The value of U.S. wheat is exceptional for buyers who can work with the HRW crop to produce flour for pan breads, baguettes and flat breads or to blend with hard red spring (HRS) or other wheat classes.
Fortunately, U.S. producers have kept the faith with their overseas customers by providing generous financial and in-kind market development support to U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) through 19 state checkoff programs. This qualifies USW for matching export development funds from the federal government and allows our organization to represent producer interests. On their behalf, USW continues to inform buyers about the unique value of HRW and all other U.S. wheat classes, and provide the trade and technical service needed to put this wheat to work growing customer enterprises.
Purchasing U.S. wheat offers an additional, unmatched advantage: certification by the Federal Grain Inspection Service and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. USW Regional Technical Director Peter Lloyd, Casablanca, Morocco, describes that advantage this way:
“No other wheat exporter comes close in terms of the neutral, detailed, federally supervised quality assurance of the commercial transaction itself to ensure that, as far as commercially possible, what you specify is what you get.”