Friday, April 30, 2010

Root-lesion Nematodes Study Now Available

The Root-lesion Nematodes biology and management in Pacific Northwest wheat cropping systems study, by Richard W. Smiley, professor of plant pathology at Oregon state University is now available at the following link:

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Supreme Court Considers Genetically Modified Crops

The Supreme Court is set to have its first ruling on genetically modified crops. The issue: a federal judge's temporary ban on a breed of pesticide-resistant alfalfa.

The case, Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms, has drawn widespread interest because the justices could issue a ruling that would raise or lower the threshold for challenges under the National Environmental Policy Act, according to The New York Times.

Legal experts do not expect an epic decision on the merits of regulating GM plants, and environmental groups, "don't expect anything good" to come from the Supreme Court's eventual decision, the New York Times reports. However, the decision could set precedent for future litigation on the introduction of GM crops.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Chairman Collin Peterson to Hold Agriculture Field Hearing in Idaho

Chairman Collin Peterson and the U.S. House Agriculture Committee will host a field hearing in Nampa, Idaho on Saturday May 1. The hearing will be held in the Old Science Lecture Hall on the Northwest Nazarene University campus at 1:00 p.m.
Testimony will be by invitation and is being arranged by the Committee, but the hearing is open to the public. Idaho Grain Producers Association President Scott Brown has been asked to provide testimony on behalf of Idaho’s wheat and barley producers.

The Farm Bill ensures that all Americans have access to a safe, secure and inexpensive food supply and provides a safety net for farmers and ranchers. It also authorizes important nutrition programs, encourages environmentally friendly conservation programs, and supports the development of agriculturally based renewable energy, which will help to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Farm Income Expected To Increase While Net Worth Declines in 2010

Net value added, net farm income, and net cash income, the three key indicators of U.S. farm sector income, are expected to improve in 2010. Net farm income is forecast to be $63 billion in 2010, up 11.9 percent ($6.7 billion) from 2009. While the 2010 forecast is $25 billion below the all-time record in 2004 and near record in 2008, it represents a rebound from 2009 when the global recession dampened demand for U.S. crops and livestock.

Net value added, USDA’s measure of agriculture’s contribution to the U.S. economy’s production of goods and services, is forecast to rise $6.1 billion and net cash income (gross cash income minus cash expenses), $5.5 billion.

Adjusting for inflation provides a better way to compare the current health of the U.S. farm sector to longrun trends. While increases are expected in 2010, each of the three farm income measures remain below the most recent 10-year average (measured in constant 2005 dollars). Inflation-adjusted net value added is expected to be roughly 6.4 percent below its 2000-2009 average. Inflation-adjusted net farm income and net cash income will be below the 10-year averages by 13.4 and 7.1 percent, respectively.

The value of farm sector business assets is expected to continue falling in 2010 as expectations for declining crop receipts and continued volatility in agricultural commodity and input markets affect future expected returns on investments in land and other farm capital. Although interest rates are expected to remain low and farm credit available, producers could face tighter credit requirements.

Farm sector equity, or “net worth” (farm sector assets minus farm sector debt), is expected to fall 3 percent in 2010, with the value of farm assets declining 3.5 percent and farm debt 6.8 percent.

Rebounding Economy Will Boost Livestock Sector Sales. . .
The U.S. and world economy are expected to stabilize and grow in 2010. USDA’s baseline projections call for inflation-adjusted U.S. Gross Domestic Product to increase 2.5 percent, and economic growth in the rest of the world, 2 percent. Better economic conditions are behind improving expectations for livestock producers in 2010. Meat, milk, and eggs are higher cost items whose demand is subject to consumer budgeting considerations. As the recession ends, consumer demand for these foods is expected to increase.

The livestock sector is expected to lead a rebound in the U.S. farm economy in 2010. The value of livestock production is forecast to grow 10.2 percent, with milk sales expected to increase $7.4 billion and cattle and calf sales, $2.8 billion. Higher prices and increased sales will boost average net cash income for farm businesses specializing in livestock or poultry. Dairy farm businesses are likely to experience the largest increase—a per farm average of $105,000—but will remain substantially below their 2007-08 levels.

While Crop Sales and Government Payments Will Decline
Unlike livestock producers, crop producers are not expected to see much, if any, improvement. The value of crop production is expected to fall $4.3 billion in 2010, led by a $2.5-billion decrease in wheat sales. Declines in the value of crop production reflect expected lower prices combined with stable or slight declines in quantities sold. Average annual net cash income of crop farms is expected to fall in 2010, with the largest average decline ($11,800) expected for corn farms.
Direct U.S. government payments to the U.S. farm sector—going primarily to crop producers—are expected to drop by $0.5 billion in 2010 reflecting somewhat stronger cotton and milk prices and changes in marketing assistance loans for the 2010-12 crop years.

Higher Farm Income Will Offset Increased Production Expenses
The expected increase of $7.4 billion in 2010 gross farm income (the value of production, and revenues from services, forestry, and direct government payments) will exceed the forecast increase of $0.7 billion in total farm production expenditures. Purchased inputs, the largest category of farm production expenditures, are expected to remain stable as declines in feed and fertilizer costs are offset by higher costs for fuels and oil, livestock and poultry, and pesticides. The index of annual prices paid for production items, interest, taxes, and wage rates is forecast to rise around 1 percent in 2010, while total output of crops and livestock is expected to decline about the same amount.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Wheat Quality Workshop – A One-day Workshop for Wheat Growers

The Idaho Wheat Commission and the Washington Grain Alliance are once again sponsoring a one-day hands-on Wheat Quality Workshop in Pullman, Washington for Idaho and Washington Wheat growers.

Topics include 1) Low Falling Number and how it affects your bottom line; 2) Discover which varieties make the best bread, cookies or noodles; 3) What do our foreign and domestic customers want?

This year’s workshop is Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at the Western Wheat Quality Lab in Pullman, Washington. Space is limited so RSVP today at (208) 334-2353 or

Thursday, April 22, 2010

U.S. Wheat Exports Set Faster Pace; New Crop Sales Strong -- by Chad Weigand, USW Market Analyst

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) increased the MY 2009/10 U.S. export forecast by 1.1 million metric tons (MMT) in its April World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (read the latest report at

This puts the new export forecast at 23.5 MMT, which would be the lowest since MY 2002/03 (23.1 MMT). The previous estimate, at 22.5 MMT, had exports pegged at their lowest level since MY 1971/72.

USDA noted that the boost in recent grain shipments was partly responsible for the increased projection. Commercial sales data shows that the United States exported 5.3MMT of wheat between Jan. 1, 2010, and March 31, growing the total volume for the year from 16.1 MMT to 21.4 MMT. The 5.3 MMT sales increase during the January to March time frame is the second highest in the past five years, following only 2007 when sales increased by 6.5 MMT (see chart).

A quicker pace of sales also applies to new crop sales for the next marketing year(NMY). Current NMY sales total 956,300 MT, 21 percent greater than NMY sales this time last year. Although current NMY sales are two percent lower than the five-year average of 970,800 MT, the five-year average contains a major outlier. In March 2008, NMY sales reached 3,000,000 MT when global supplies were limited and other major exporters restricted sales to ensure domestic supplies. Removing this outlier, the average is 459,700 MT, well below March 2010 NMY sales.

The largest buyers of new crop sales to date are Nigeria, the Philippines, and Mexico. Nigerian NMY purchases total 316,000 MT, compared to only 12,000 MT a year ago. Hard red winter makes up the bulk of Nigeria’s new crop purchases at 280,000 MT. HRW sales for delivery in MY 2010/11 currently total 368,000 MT, which is more than double from last year’s NMY sales of 158,100 MT. The Philippines has booked 200,400 MT of exclusively soft white wheat. White wheat NMY sales, at 292,900 MT, are up 64 percent from last year. Mexico has bought 182,200 MT, of which 103,500 MT is soft red winter. NMY SRW sales currently total 165,700 MT.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

WSU Scientists says Ag practices, policies can help sequester carbon

The right combination of agricultural practices and definitive government policies could go a long way toward increasing carbon sequestration on the farm, according to Washington State University researchers.

Chad Kruger, interim director for WSU's Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resource who coordinated the Climate Friendly Farming Project, says that three basic changes in traditional agricultural practices could dramatically improve farmers' ability to keep carbon.

"Basically, we're talking about three things," Kruger said. "We need to reduce disturbance of the soil, produce more biomass and make sure that biomass and plant residue make it into the soil."

Kruger said low-till or no-till production minimizes carbon oxidation and erosion -- especially important in the dryland farming areas of the Palouse and elsewhere in the state. "We don't know everything about the fate of carbon in erosion, but we definitely know we're better off if the soil stays on the hillside."

That isn't the only factor in carbon sequestration, though.

"The most important factor is getting more carbon into the soil," Kruger said.

One way is to make sure that the plant residue from current crops stays in the field, he said. "Field burning, tillage that oxidizes carbon, baling of residue all reduce the available carbon inputs."

Another way to increase carbon in the soil is to increase the amount of biomass produced. "Farmers are thinking differently about the types of crops we can grow," Kruger said. "Our dryland options are limited by rainfall, but in an irrigated system, though, we have a lot of options."

One of those options is cover cropping, which entails growing a "sacrifice" crop that will be mowed or tilled in, which in turn, provides longer-term carbon storage. Kruger offers one caveat to that option -- increasing carbon input might also increase nitrogen, and nitrous oxide, in the system. Nitrogen management is an environmental issue facing many growers.

Another option is to bring organically based amendments to the soil. "We need to beyond traditional amendments such as manure," Kruger said. "We need to look at compost, paper, municipal solid waste and biochar to increase carbon sequestration. The possibilities are really wide open, and not a lot of research has been done yet."

Understanding practices that work and developing the governmental policies to make it economically possible for growers to implement them may be two different things, however.

"Say a farmer wants to shift to no-till to get a carbon credit," Kruger said. "That change can be expensive at the front end in terms of new equipment. If a carbon credit is an annual payment of $3 to $4 per acre, that is not a very enticing incentive."

And what about the growers who dramatically changed their practices years ago? Kruger said it is still possible that "early action" could be penalized under programs currently being proposed, not with fines but by not being allowed to take advantage in new incentives.

"Carbon sequestration and the carbon markets are very difficult and tricky things to wade through," Kruger said. "The changes and results that can come from agricultural systems tend to be slow and incremental. It's a lot different than changing the kind of light bulbs you use, and the policy community has some clear reservations."

Kruger is a featured speaker at the "Understanding Carbon Markets" workshop being held at Malo, Wash., on April 24. That workshop is being sponsored by WSU Ferry County Extension, Ferry County Commissioners and the Malo Grange.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Looking at farm programs from a fresh perspective

Dan Looker, Business Editor for Successful Farming magazine reports that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will begin looking at possible changes to the 2012 Farm Bill starting next week.

That's when Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will appear before the committee, followed a week later by academics and economists. Then, over a long weekend that starts on Friday, April 30, committee chairman, Representative Collin Peterson (D-MN) takes the show on the road, with hearings planned for Des Moines, Iowa; Boise, Idaho; Fresno, California and Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Over the past winter and spring, Peterson has made it clear that he expects finding the financial resources for farm programs to be tougher by 2012, as Congress wrestles with ways to cut a ballooning federal deficit.

On Friday, Peterson made it clear that he's doing this, not because he has any hidden reform agenda, but "to get people thinking ahead of time on where we should be going in the future."

And, he said, "My interest is in providing a safety net for the average commercial production farm out there."

"I've told people we should put everything on the table. It's nothing more than that," he added.

Peterson said that he wants the next farm bill to continue to offer a safety net for the commercial farms that produce most of the nation's food and that "I'm not coming from any one point of view."

Peterson looks at the complex mix of current farm programs that include direct payments, crop insurance, a permanent disaster program called SURE (SUpplemental REvenue Assistance Payments Program) and ACRE (Average Crop Revenue Election).
He's asking farm groups, "Is there a more productive way of providing a safety net."
Still, in a conference call with reporters, he did some interesting thinking aloud.
Peterson said there isn't enough money available from the federal budget to raise the loan rates for the Direct and Counter-cyclical Program (DCP) enough to make it work well as a safety net.

"The problem with the loan rates is that they're so low they're not really effective and we don't have the money to make them work. And that's why I think we should examine it," he said.

Peterson acknowledged that the signup for the ACRE program last year was small, partly because the program came out late (last August) and because it's complicated.
"I think we have to make it a county by county program instead of a state program," he said. And farmers should be able to assign potential payments from ACRE to a bank so that they could borrow against it for operating loans, he added.

Currently, farmers enrolled in the ACRE program do not get a payment on a crop unless their state has a drop in revenue and their farm has a drop in revenue.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Construction Continues on New PNW Export Elevator

Silos to store and separate several classes of U.S. wheat and other grains are currently being built at the Export Grain Terminal in Longview, Washington. This joint venture between global agricultural and shipping companies Bunge North America, ITOCHU and STX Pan Ocean is expected to be completed in the third or fourth quarter of 2011.

USW Vice President John Oades recently told The Capital Press that the new facility has a larger rail and barge off-load capacity, more storage and faster vessel-loading capacity than other elevators on the Columbia Snake River System where port load-out capacity has been at or near maximum levels. Oades told Capital Press writer Matthew Weaver that the additional capacity also helps the Pacific Northwest industry to further address wheat segregation and loading needs to meet the increasing quality and consistency demands of international buyers. Oades also noted that with additional renovations and expansions planned for several other elevators, the Columbia River channel deepening project intended to allow vessels to load up to 60,000 metric tons, and major lock upgrades, the region's ports will become even more efficient.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Farm Program Deadline Draws Near

While most Americans were focused on meeting the April 15 income tax deadline, more than half of the nation's farmers are currently at risk of falling out of USDA’s farm programs unless they drive over to their Farm Service Agency office by June 1 to sign up for 2010.

Filling out forms for FSA is an annual chore. But this year the deadline comes earlier than it did the previous two years. The deadline last year was August 14, when USDA launched the new ACRE (Average Crop Revenue Election) program. Sign up was delayed in 2008, too, to allow FSA to adjust to the new farm bill.

FSA officials acknowledge that the red tape and information required at sign up are increasingly unpopular. This year farmers have to sign a form authorizing the IRS to notify USDA if a producer doesn't meet the income guideline to qualify for farm programs. For farmers that income test is quite high -- $750,000, not in gross sales, but the adjusted gross income reported on your tax return. Producers have also been worried that their tax records might become public somehow at the FSA office.

According to FSA, they don’t want the tax records, so the USDA worked out an agreement with the IRS where they would run a report for FSA.

Another reason producers may be procrastinating signing up early, is that in a previous farm bill, if they were late in signing up, they could pay a $100 late fee and then file. That option is no longer available. If farmers don't sign up by June 1,they’re out of the program.

Confusion with a later, June 30, deadline for reporting planted acres for farm programs is another reason producers have procrastinated this year. Producers like to do the one-stop shop. They want to do their reporting and sign up at the same time. This year they’re not going to have that option.

If farmers don't sign up by June 1, they won't receive direct payments, or any other payments that might be triggered under either the DCP or ACRE programs. Once a farm is enrolled in ACRE, it can't be switched back to the DCP program under the current farm bill. But, just like the DCP program, farms in ACRE have to be signed up annually.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Biotech Acres continue to Climb

Worldwide, farmers continue to adopt biotechnology, especially as traits today offer specific solutions to the problems growers face. A new report from the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications states a record 14 million farmers in 25 countries are using agricultural biotechnology today, and 13 million of them are resource-poor farmers in developing countries. In the United States more than 158 million acres of biotech crops were planted in 2009, and the U.S. remains the top country in terms of biotech acreage.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April Weather Around the Globe

A better than average rainy season is expected to provide above average wheat yields for China, while also getting summer crops off to a good start.

Drought Lingers in Canada. Forecasters fear that dryness concerns will linger in the north-western third of the Canadian Prairies’ canola and wheat belts following recorded drought this winter.

Cool, Wet Spring for Europe. Much of Europe should see a cool, wet spring favor good wheat yields but slow planting of summer grain crops.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Idaho Crop Progress

USDA reports that cool temperatures last week slowed field work. Temperatures across the state ranged from three to ten degrees below normal for the week. All regions reported precipitation, but most reported below normal precipitation. Jefferson County received 6-12 inches of snow while cool weather in Twin Falls slowed sugar beet plantings. Statewide, winter wheat is in mostly good to excellent condition.

Monday, April 12, 2010

EPA Announces New Restrictions on Pesticide Phosphine Fumigants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is requiring new restrictions on aluminum and magnesium phosphide products to better protect people, especially children, from dangerous exposures. The new restrictions prohibit all uses of the products around residential areas, increase buffer zones for treatment around non-residential buildings that could be occupied by people or animals, and create more protective product labeling. These actions are part of Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s comprehensive effort to strengthen the agency’s chemical management program and assure the safety of chemicals.

Aluminum and magnesium phosphide fumigants are used primarily to control insects in stored grain and other agricultural commodities. They also are used to control burrowing rodents in outdoor agricultural and other non-domestic areas. The fumigants are restricted to use by specially trained pesticide applicators and in only narrow circumstances.

EPA is expediting approval of the new labels to reduce the potential for accidental poisonings. The primary manufacturer is voluntarily implementing the changes. EPA will apply these changes to all aluminum and magnesium phosphide products.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Wheat Prices Lower in March

USDA released its preliminary prices received by Idaho farmers for the month of March. The report showed increases for all barley, malting barley, dry beans, potatoes, beef cattle, cows, calves, and steers and heifers. Lower prices were received for all wheat and all milk. Alfalfa Hay prices were unchanged.

All wheat planted in Idaho is expected to total 1.38 million acres, up 5 percent from last year. Spring wheat plantings are expected to be 580,000 acres, 5 percent more than last year. Winter wheat seedings, at 780,000 acres, increased 5 percent from 2009 crop. Durum wheat seedings are expected to total 20,000 acres, unchanged from 2009.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Be Aware of Weed Resistance in Your Fields

There are now 341 herbicide-resistant weed biotypes reported worldwide, and 130 of those are in the U.S.

Nine weed species in the U.S. now have confirmed resistance to glyphosate. These weeds are strains of common ragweed, common waterhemp, giant ragweed, hairy fleabane, horseweed, Italian ryegrass, johnsongrass, Palmer amaranth and rigid rygrass.

Look for these resistance signs when monitoring your fields for weeds:

Has the field been sprayed repeatedly with the same herbicide or herbicides with a similar mode of action?

Is there a patch of weeds which occur in the same area year after year and is spreading?

Is there a particular weed type whish is no longer controlled?

Do you have surviving weeds of the problem species that may be in a patch where some are dead and some exhibit variable symptoms, but all are approximately the same age?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Managing Wheat Inventory to Maximize Profits

The Wheat Marketing Center is offering a two-day workshop for elevator operators during May and June. This hands-on workshop is an outstanding opportunity for elevator operators to become better informed about the impact of segregation on wheat quality and how it affects profitability at the elevator and on the farm. This free workshop will help you gain a greater understanding on wheat quality, wheat and flour quality testing, milling and customer specifications and final product quality.

There is limited space in this popular workshop, so sign-up today with the Wheat Marketing Center. For questions or more information contact David Shelton (503) 295-0823. (Elevator operators are responsible for their own transportation, food and lodging in Portland).

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Ag Groups File Amicus Brief on High Court’s First Biotech Case

The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) joined a coalition of agricultural organizations in filing a joint friend-of-the-court brief to the Supreme Court in support of the petitioners in Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms.

The case will be the first on genetically modified crops that the Court has heard and will examine if a lower court acted hastily and incorrectly by banning the cultivation of biotech alfalfa despite extensive scientific evidence documenting the safety of the crop.

In their brief, the groups urge that the lower courts’ decision to approve an injunction without adequately hearing the key evidence must be reversed “to protect the farmers who choose to grow genetically-engineered crops, as well as the public benefits that agricultural biotechnology brings to producers and consumers around the world.”

In the lower court case, environmental groups and individual organic alfalfa farmers sued USDA, claiming the Department’s decision to grant deregulated status to glyphosate-tolerant, or Roundup Ready, alfalfa violated the National Environmental Policy Act.

The courts in the Ninth Circuit determined that USDA should have conducted an environmental impact statement (EIS) before it decided to deregulate, and the court ultimately enjoined almost all planting and sale of Roundup Ready alfalfa pending the issuance of the EIS.

According to the ag groups’ brief, the lower court’s injunction against biotech alfalfa, was made without the court conducting a thorough review of evidence that precluded a finding of irreparable harm. In 2005, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) concluded that there is no significant impact on the human environment due to granting non-regulated status to Roundup Ready alfalfa. Following the lower court’s ruling, APHIS completed a 1,400-page document as its draft EIS, and again has recommended that Roundup Ready alfalfa be deregulated and that farmers be allowed to grow it.

The brief also explains that the lower courts failed to consider the public benefits of agricultural biotechnology, which is widely used in the U.S. in crops including corn, soybeans, cotton and sugar beets. There is no commercialized biotech wheat anywhere in the world, but NAWG believes biotechnology’s introduction into the wheat crop is necessary for the wheat industry to increase productivity, attract acres back to the crop and feed a growing global population in a sustainable way.

Of the more than 10,000 cases appealed to the Supreme Court each year, only about 1 percent is accepted for review, and the agricultural community is closely watching to see which what the Court’s action on this one. The case is scheduled for oral argument on April 27 with a decision expected by June.

The brief was submitted by NAWG, American Farm Bureau Federation, Biotechnology Industry Organization, American Seed Trade Association, American Soybean Association, National Alfalfa and Forage Alliance, National Cotton Council and National Potato Council.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Value of Reliability

Our brand promise is familiar: “U.S. wheat is the world’s most reliable choice.” In a season of surplus and wide variability in prices, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) continues to make this case because U.S. wheat growers have consistently produced abundant supplies of excellent quality wheats and earned an enduring reputation for reliability and value over many years. It is also important to take every opportunity to provide valid proof of our brand promise.

Let us examine current world wheat prices, for example. Global wheat prices are down since near record global stocks quickly replaced the supply shock of 2007/08. However, U.S. FOB wheat prices are now higher than wheat from the Black Sea region and parts of Europe. The difference grows when the value of the U.S. dollar rises in relation to the euro and other currencies. In spite of the fact that U.S. soft red winter (SRW) is an excellent, proven wheat for confectionary use and baguettes, and that hard red winter (HRW) is a consistently superior bread wheat compared to Black Sea region crops, the difference in price has attracted some buyers.

Beyond the inherent quality and functional value of U.S. wheat, U.S. private exporters today must pay an additional premium to draw stocks out of storage because of various incentives for many of the market participants. Index funds, for example, are holding long positions in wheat contracts in U.S. exchanges. Their managers can hold because the funds invest in a basket of commodities where losses in wheat might be relatively small and offset by gains in energy and other commodities. Grain elevators approved by CME/CBOT for physical delivery of wheat also have an incentive to store wheat. Under a variable storage rate structure implemented by the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) last year, storage premium charges increase or decrease based upon the "carry" in the market that is implied by futures-market spreads. Currently, the charges are attractive. Many U.S. farmers also have an incentive to store wheat in hopes of higher cash prices because the cost can be offset by revenue from other crops and savvy price risk management; some of their optimism about future prices may accrue back to the fact that they planted about five million fewer acres of SRW and HRW last fall compared to the year before.

The EU and Russia are fortunate to have large exportable wheat surpluses in 2009/10. Recent EU sales to what some consider unusual buyers, however, actually reflect the concept of reliability. That is due to Argentina's inability to be a reliable wheat supplier in recent years, in large part because of political problems. That forces some Latin American buyers to consider other sources and brings into play today's significant price differences between the U.S. and other origins.

The Russian grain industry has stepped rather boldly into the global grain market. We believe supply drives this effort, certainly above any measure of functional milling or baking quality compared to wheat from the U.S. and some other suppliers. Yet, as USW President Alan Tracy wrote in the Jan. 7, 2010, issue of Wheat Letter, Russia's stated willingness to sell grain from government intervention stocks at prices below their acquisition cost is troubling. That amounts to a direct export subsidy presumably from the Russian government (Click here to read more: It is also important to consider that the Russian government banned wheat exports during the supply crisis of 2007/08 (as did Ukraine and Argentina). The Russian trade is apparently now having trouble meeting delivery requirements because of logistical problems. In addition, indications are that Russian wheat producers are beginning to question why they earn so little for their crop. In the face of such uncertainty, we seriously question whether Russia can truly stake a claim as a reliable supplier of high quality milling wheat -- and so should international wheat buyers.

In contrast, the U.S. wheat industry’s commitment to add value to the consistently excellent quality and variety of its wheat supply is established, proven, and (perhaps above all) reliable. For decades, the U.S. wheat store has remained open to international buyers, even when supplies were tight. That is easy to overlook at a time when some wheat-exporting countries are aggressively offering their product. In good years and bad, U.S. wheat growers have supported USW’s effort to work directly with buyers to answer questions and resolve issues in purchasing, shipping, or using their six classes of wheat. With U.S. wheat, buyers also get professional technical assistance, education, information, and personalized consulting that help strengthen overseas milling, storage and handling, and end-product industries. As always, USW stands ready to help meet our customers’ needs.

That is why we believe U.S. wheat is the world’s most reliable choice.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Snowpack Numbers are Below Average

April 1 is the official start to the irrigation season. KTVB reporter Ty Brennan spoke with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)to find out if there will be enough water to sustain farmers throughout the season.

Ron Abramovich, a hydrologist with the NRCS, tested the snowpack in the Mores Creek area near Idaho City. As Spring approaches, the information gathered is extremely important for planning for the next year. "If we can more accurately forecast it, users can plan ahead whether they're going to have too much, or too little water like this year the way it's shaping up to be," says Abramovich.

Even with the recent snowfall in the mountains, the findings from their research shows this year will be short on water.

According to Abramovich 80% of all the precipitation in Idaho comes in the form of snow, that's why hydrologists say it's so important to keep an eye on the numbers.

"With the snowpack 30 percentage points below average, we're going to expect and see below-average stream flow this year, it's going to be tough to fill the reservoirs, so the reservoir operators will be monitoring it pretty closely," says Abramovich.

One of those people keeping a very close eye on the numbers is Rex Barrie. As the Boise Watermaster, he regulates all the water flow in the Boise Basin.

"We're concerned about the reservoirs filling this year. this is good news this extra ten inches, a couple inches of water helps, every little bit helps, but we're still very concerned," says Barrie.

Hydrologists say we should have enough water to make it through this season because of current water levels, but next season could be a different story.

"This year we'll probably have enough water to make it through the season but it will leave us in a short supply at the end of the water season. So, if we have a back-to-back short water year as far as snowpack goes that puts us into next year with the question, do we have enough water to make it through the irrigation season?" says Barrie.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Idaho Wheat Plantings Projected Higher

The recent NASS report showed that all wheat planted in Idaho is expected to total 1.38 million acres, up 5 percent from last year. Spring wheat plantings are expected to be 580,000 acres, 5 percent more than last year.

Winter wheat seedings, at 780,000 acres, increased 5 percent from the 2009 crop. Durum wheat seedings are expected to total 20,000 acres, unchanged from 2009.

Nationally, wheat producers intend to plant 53.8 million acres for the 2010 crop year, down 9 percent from the previous year. The 2010 winter wheat planted area is estimated at 37.7 million acres, down 13 percent from 2009 but up 2 percent from the winter Wheat Seedings report.

Spring wheat growers intend to plant 13.9 million acres this year, up 5 percent from 2009.

Idaho Grain Stocks

March 1, 2010 stocks of all wheat stored in all positions totaled 39.9 million bushels, up 19 percent from last year’s 33.4 million bushels. According to the NASS survey, on-farm storage was estimated at 17.5 million bushels, up from last year’s 12.0 million bushels. Off-farm stocks, including stocks at mills, elevators, warehouses, terminals and processors was estimated at 22.4 million bu shells, up 5 percent from March 1, 2009.