Farm Progress

U.S. should grow more hard white wheat

Commentary: U.S. has handed Australia a lucrative wheat market by choosing not to compete.

November 29, 2017

1 Min Read
WHITE WHEAT: The U.S. could compete with Australia for a share of the growing hard white wheat demand.allou/iStock/Thinkstock

By Ron Suppes

Australia has the best trade agreement in wheat imaginable. The agreement is with the United States and, the kicker is, they didn’t have to lift a finger to get it. We gave it to them.

Australia has a so-called “corner on the market” because they grow hard white wheat primarily for the international market. We, as a country, can also grow hard white wheat, with even better qualities than Australian hard white. For some reason — or reasons — we have decided to produce only enough for our domestic market, thus leaving the international market basically untouched by our grain.

The hard white wheat market is growing, as evidenced in Nigeria where Australia has taken a portion of the U.S. hard red wheat market and replaced it with white wheat.

There are other countries such as Taiwan, South Korea and many South American countries that are looking for hard white wheat for its whole grain qualities, but we are allowing them to look elsewhere rather than growing hard white wheat here in this country. We are content to compete with Russia, Ukraine and other countries for a share of the markets for other types of wheat that are bulk, low-value commodities. It is a competition in which the way to make the sale is to be the producer with the lowest price.

If we would commit at least a third of our red wheat production to hard white wheat production, we would show our international buyers that we are not only serious about producing hard white wheat, but that we would be a reliable supplier.

It is time for our farmers to let the grain industry know that we would like to make a change.

Suppes is a Dighton, Kan., wheat grower. 

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