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Wheat tour showcases U.S. varieties to E.U. buyers

A European trade team representing Spain, Italy and Malta recently spent a week touring wheat fields in North Dakota, Minnesota and Ohio.

“Tours like this one are important for all U.S. wheat growers,” said Brad Moffitt with the Ohio Small Grains Marketing Program. “Our visitors for this tour are more hard wheat and durum customers but they blend a lot of wheat as well which means they do have an interest in the soft wheat as well.”

In fact, Soft Red Wheat (SRW) was the top U.S. wheat class imported during the 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 marketing years. During those two years, roughly 80% of the SRW was imported by Spain and 15% was imported by Italy. The European Union has not imported any SRW since June of 2013, but this can change quickly if it is competitively priced, which is why Ohio was a part of this U.S. Wheat Associates sponsored tour.

“The objective of the wheat checkoff is to create demand for our product and, in turn, drive profitability for our farmers,” Moffitt said. “That is why visits like this from our E.U. customers are so important.”

The group’s Ohio leg included a tour of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Lab in Wooster, a visit to the OARDC wheat test plots for an overview of the Soft Red Wheat Breeding Program and concluded with a farm tour and dinner at Stover Family Farms in Shelby.

“The main point of this trip is to give these E.U.-based customers confidence on the high quality of the U.S wheat varieties and to show them, first hand, that a lot of effort and investment is going into the development of new varieties that are suited for their markets and their products,” said Rutger Koekoek, a marketing specialist with U.S. Wheat Associates. “They are very critical buyers and we like to show them that the U.S. wheat industry is making a big effort to satisfy their requirements.”

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