Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Idaho Wheat Commission, UI renew research agreement

The Idaho Wheat Commission and University of Idaho officials announced they have signed a three-year renewal of an agreement outlining wheat research.
The commission represents wheat growers throughout the state and oversees funds generated by a self-imposed assessment on wheat sales.
For the past four years, the commission has directed more than $4.1 million to support research by UI College of Agricultural and Life Sciences scientists who address issues critical to the wheat industry.
“The commission’s investment in the college’s research is essential to providing our scientists with the support and equipment they need to help growers stay competitive,” said John C. Foltz, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences dean.
“Idaho wheat growers have stepped up their commitment to fund state-of-the art research at the University of Idaho,” said Ned Moon, Idaho Wheat Commission chairman. “New tools are available to improve varieties, control pests and manage field work, to make the Idaho wheat industry more efficient, competitive and profitable. The financial support from Idaho wheat growers to the UI has averaged over $1 million annually each of the past four years.”
Two years ago, the Idaho Wheat Commission announced it would fund two $1 million endowments to support UI wheat breeding and UI Extension cereal agronomy based at the college’s Aberdeen Research and Extension Center.
This spring, the commission voted to support a new faculty wheat molecular geneticist who will expand college wheat variety development efforts into the new realm of bioinformatics and computational biology. Donn Thill, Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station director, said the commission pledged to support the new position for three years.
“This new position will put UI at the forefront of efforts to focus new variety development on using new tools to identify and incorporate genetic traits, which will improve and accelerate the creation of new wheats tailored to grower and consumer needs,” Thill said.
In addition to the endowments, the commission boosted its level of support for the college’s research after the previous three-year agreement, Thill said. The commission, reflecting support from its wheat growing constituents, invested in equipment, buying two $175,000 combines to help researchers at Moscow and Aberdeen.
Idaho Wheat Commission members met on the university’s Moscow campus this week. The meeting included a tour of the campus computer facilities operated by the Institute for Bioinformatics and Evolutionary Studies.
Part of the commission’s agenda also included a farewell to retiring member Joe Anderson of Potlatch. He advocated for the commission-funded endowments and supported a close working relationship with the university.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Wheat Prices Driven By Supply and Demand, Not Speculators

by Michael K. Adjemian and Joseph Janzen
USDA Economic Research Service

Over the last 5 years, wheat futures prices spiked and then crashed, similar to prices for other agricultural commodities. Since these commodities are critical food sources in the developed and developing world, this increased price volatility has drawn the attention of the public. At the same time, prices for agricultural and energy commodities moved together more than in the past. Explanations offered for this increasing price comovement include macroeconomic shocks and correlated supply disruptions, but observers also point to the influence of nontraditional speculative firms known as commodity index traders (CITs). Concern about the role of speculators in recent price spikes has led to calls for restrictions on the trading activity of CITs.

A new ERS study uses a statistical model to quantify the degree to which a comprehensive set of economic factors, including the trading behavior of CITs, contributed to recent trends in wheat futures prices. According to study findings, supply and demand shocks specific to the wheat market were the dominant cause of price spikes between 1991 and 2011 in the three U.S. wheat futures markets (hard red winter, hard red spring, and soft red winter wheat). Focusing specifically on the February 2008 price spike, researchers found that, depending on the market, wheat prices in that month would have been 40-62 percent lower in the absence of supply and demand shocks affecting that year’s wheat crop, such as weather events that lowered wheat yields. The second most important factor in the ‘08 spike was shocks to precautionary demand —an anticipatory buildup of commodity inventories associated with expectations about future prices. Wheat prices would have been 11-36 percent lower in the absence of these shocks.

Other factors had less of an impact on the 2008 price spike. Broad-based demand shocks associated with fluctuations in global economic activity had a 9- to 12-percent price impact. In the absence of shocks attributable to financial speculators like CITs, the peak wheat price in February 2008 would have been just 1 percent lower. At its maximum price impact between 2006 and 2011, financial speculation elevated wheat prices by 5-8 percent. These findings suggest that even in an environment of market-wide price volatility, wheat futures prices reflected fundamental supply and demand factors. In contrast, the price impact of commodity index traders was far smaller. Consequently, restrictions on commodity index trading are not likely to prevent future price spikes.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

GIPSA Establishes National Falling Number Quality Assurance Program for Wheat (FGIS Program Directive)


This Directive establishes a National Falling Number (FN) Quality Assurance Program and outlines procedures for participation by Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) Field Offices and Official Service Providers who perform FN determinations on wheat. This program consists of a check sample program and an inspection monitoring program. The FN Quality Assurance Program will be administered on behalf of FGIS by the Technology and Science Division (TSD).

In 2012, FGIS performed over 25,000 official FN tests on wheat from 24 service points. Recently, stakeholders have asked GIPSA for a nationwide quality assurance program that includes inspection monitoring.

The goals of this program are to provide information that validates the level of accuracy among service points and, if possible, to improve the accuracy of the official FN testing program. The inspection monitoring program will assess the current performance and provide immediate feedback on accuracy for each service point and specific FN instrument. The feedback will include the TSD result for each sample and whether the results were within range, in the warning zone, or in the action zone.

Initially, TSD will collect and analyze one file sample per week from each service point and instrument. After acquiring sufficient data on sample volumes, the sample rate for each service point may be adjusted.

The check sample program will provide a system-wide assessment of the accuracy on a biannual basis and will help identify specific instruments or operators that may be providing inaccurate results. The check sample program will also allow TSD to investigate the level of accuracy among service points on samples with FN values that may not be available through the inspection monitoring program.

To view the entire directive, click on the link: http://www.gipsa.usda.gov/Lawsandregs/directives/9180-84.pdf

Monday, March 10, 2014

2014 Idaho Wheat Commission Cereal School Presentation
Blaine Jacobson, Executive Director of the Idaho Wheat Commission, presented at the 2014 Cereal Schools.
He provided an overview of world supply and demand, top US wheat customers, Idaho wheat production, markets, programs and budget.
To view his presentation click on the link: 2014 Cereal School Presentation

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Developing your 2014 Pre-Harvest Marketing Plan for Wheat

"Developing your 2014 Pre-Harvest Marketing Plan for Wheat" presented by Ed Usset, University of Minnesota. How to write a pre-harvest marketing plan, what is your minimum price threshold, developing a realistic max price objective/target, plus much more.  Click on the link to view the webinar http://connect.cals.uidaho.edu/p4nnx7ry9of/

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Acid Soils Webinar Offered to Idaho Wheat Growers

• Friday, January 31 at 7:30 AM PST (8:30 AM MST) -- Guest Presenter: Dr. Kurtis Schroeder
“Acid Soils: Risk, Solutions and Current Research”

The Idaho Wheat Commission will be presenting a web-based grower education seminar (webinar) on “Acid Soils: Risk, Solutions and Current Research” The webinar will be approximately one hour.  Participation is free!  Log onto the website at http://connect.cals.uidaho.edu/wheat (requires Adobe Flash Player which is installed on most computers) and enter your name as a participant.

The topic of acid soils and associated aluminum toxicity has reemerged in recent years.  Farming practices and other factors have led to continued soil acidification in northern Idaho and eastern Washington, and in some instances significant reductions in yield.  This webinar will focus on understanding what soil pH is and how it can impact soil health and normal plant development.  Potential solutions to reduce the impact of acid soils will be discussed along with the future directions of research on management strategies for acid soils.

Dr. Kurtis Schroeder received a B.S. in microbiology and an M.S. in plant science from the University of Idaho.  He received a Ph.D. in plant pathology from Washington State University where his research focused on evaluating the impact of direct seeding on root diseases of wheat and barley.  Dr. Schroeder is currently an Assistant Professor of Cropping Systems Agronomy at the University of Idaho.  His research program focuses on studying various aspects of cereal-based cropping systems in northern Idaho including impacts and remediation of acid soils, impact of biostimulants on crop production, nitrogen management in cereals and management of root diseases of cereals and legume crops.

For those who cannot view the webinar in real time, it will be recorded and available at: www.idahowheat.org.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Growth in Global Agricultural Productivity: An Update

Amber Waves
by Keith Fuglie and Nicholas Rada

Over the past 50 years, productivity growth in agriculture has enabled farmers to produce a greater abundance of food at lower real prices. Lower prices, plus rising incomes, have allowed consumers to spend a smaller share of their disposable income on food purchases. In fact, improving agricultural productivity has helped the world avoid a recurring Malthusian crisis—where the needs of a growing population outstrip the ability of humanity to supply food (see “New Evidence Points to Robust But Uneven Productivity Growth in Global Agriculture" in the September 2012 issue of Amber Waves).
A broad measure of agricultural productivity performance is total factor productivity (TFP). Unlike other commonly used productivity indicators like yield per acre (land productivity) or output per worker (labor productivity), TFP takes into account a much broader set of the inputs used in agricultural production. TFP compares all of the land, labor, capital, and material resources employed in agriculture to the sector’s total crop and livestock output. If total output is growing faster than total input use, then total factor productivity (“factor” = input) is improving. Because fewer inputs are needed to produce each unit of output, costs are held down and, possibly, some of the environmental impacts of agriculture are avoided.

ERS recently updated its global agricultural productivity estimates through 2010, the latest year for which comprehensive statistics on global agricultural inputs and outputs are available. This update also accounts for revised estimates of earlier years’ agricultural inputs and outputs from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. ERS agricultural TFP indexes are available annually for every country of the world and for major global regions since 1961.

Over the past five decades, global agricultural output grew, on average, by 2.24 percent per year. This average, however, masks a slowdown in agricultural output growth in the 1970s and 1980s, after which it re-accelerated in the 1990s and 2000s. In the latest decade (2001-10), global output of total crop and livestock commodities expanded by 2.50 percent per year.

Over this 50-year timespan, the primary source of global agricultural growth changed from input-based (growth due to bringing new land into production or by intensifying the use of other inputs—labor, capital, and materials—per acre of land) to mainly TFP-based (growth due to getting more output from existing inputs). In the decades prior to 1990, most output growth came from input intensification, that is, using more labor, capital, and material inputs per acre of agricultural land. Over the last two decades, however, the rate of input intensification slowed significantly. The rate of expansion of land in global agricultural has also gradually slowed. What has enabled agricultural output to continue to grow despite this slowdown in the growth of agricultural inputs is rising TFP—getting more output from existing resources. In the most recent decade (2001-10), improvements in TFP accounted for more than three-quarters of the total growth in agricultural output worldwide.
ERS estimates suggest that the acceleration of global TFP growth in recent decades is largely due to better performance in developing countries and the transition economies of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Long-term investments in agricultural research and policy and institutional reforms have enabled many developing and transition countries to improve their agricultural productivity. However, a large number of countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, have yet to join the “growth club”: their rates of agricultural TFP growth remain significantly below the global average. Interestingly, in developed countries, total inputs employed in agriculture are falling even as output continues to rise. The improvement in productivity has been high enough to offset the decline in input use so that output has continued to grow.

ERS data also show that within these broad developed, transitional, and developing economy groupings, productivity varies widely among countries. For example, while recent productivity growth in East and South Asia has been impressive (particularly in China and Indonesia), TFP growth has been lethargic in some other parts of Asia. Sub-Saharan Africa faces perhaps the biggest challenge in achieving sustained, long-term productivity growth in agriculture. Over the last decade, the region averaged around 1 percent TFP growth annually yet is projected to have the world's highest population growth rates in coming decades. While a few African countries have raised their agricultural TFP growth to over 2 percent per year, some that appear to be experiencing rapid TFP growth (like Angola) are simply recovering from earlier decades when their agricultural sectors suffered from the effects of war.