(Jamie) Welcome to Farm Factor! Let’s join Duane and Dalton Henry with US Wheat Associates as they talk about export policy promotion of US wheat products.
(Duane) Duane Toews joining you once again with AGam in Kansas while at the Kansas Commodity Classic held in Manhattan, a chance to catch up with Dalton Henry, with U.S. Wheat Associates. Dalton you had the opportunity to talk with growers from across the state of Kansas. You worked here, now in Washington, D.C., and spending more time on the east coast and still your focus on wheat growers and wheat producers and making things happen for them in a positive way. (Dalton) Absolutely Duane, it’s been great to be back in Kansas for the Commodity Classic and a chance to catch up with a lot of growers that I’d worked with previously. I think yes, I have changed spots around and now working for U.S. Wheat, whose primary focus rather than being on farm policy maybe as I’d worked on in the past, is a lot more on export policy, export policy promotion of U.S. wheat products. We know that wheat is one of the most trade dependent commodities that we produce in the U.S. and so being able to maintain exports is really key to farmer profitability. (Duane) We think about where our market is going to come from and the dollars and cents that actually come back to the producer. We grow a whole lot more of it here in the U.S. than what we’re going to consume. (Dalton) We really do. On an annual basis we export about 50 percent of the wheat crop that we grow here in the U.S. Historically, a lot of your major world wheat importers were in North Africa, Middle East. What we’ve really seen with both the instability in that region in the last decade and also that those tend to be dominated by government buyers and they’re very focused on price. As Russia and other Black Sea suppliers have really come into their own as wheat exporters, those are pretty easy markets for them. What we’ve really been looking at at U.S. Wheat is how do we shift our focus to quality sensitive markets, primarily in Latin America, in southeast Asia, where they’re not just going to be regular, consistent customers where we have a logistical advantage, but where they’re also going to pay a premium on a regular basis for U.S. supplies. (Duane) We think about some of the work that’s gone on right here in Manhattan at Kansas State University and the International Grains Program, making sure that customer is successful with the product we sell. (Dalton) It really is and that goes back to the traditional trade servicing and technical assistance and realizing that export promotion is really a long term project and it’s something that we’ve got to continuously be training millers how to use U.S. wheat, how to make it work best for their product, working with bakers on what blends or what they can do differently to better meet their customers needs and at the end of the day trying to make it as easy as possible for those customers to purchase U.S. wheat supplies. (Duane) We think about the producer, focusing on producing a product and then needing to market it. That’s kind of like on your end, we think about policy within the U.S. but world policy you get into a whole bigger gamut of things to deal with in trying to make those avenues available for us to export that product. (Dalton) It certainly is and one thing that we’ve seen as we look at the last couple of years and look a few years into the future is that policy barriers are becoming increasingly prevalent in terms of what it is that’s holding our exports up. Whether that’s subsidies provided by foreign countries to their own domestic wheat producers in violation of past rules or other countries signing trade agreements, or enforcement of past trade agreements. there’s a litany of policy items that we really have to focus on in order for our traditional market development work to be successful. (Duane) Our thanks to Dalton Henry with U.S. Wheat Associates, joining us in Manhattan at the Kansas Commodity Classic. Jamie, we’ll send it back to you.
(Jamie) Folks, stay with us. Duane will be back with Tim Lust, CEO of the United Sorghum Checkoff Program and National Sorghum Producers.