Capital Press File
The Idaho, Oregon and Washington wheat commissions are helping pay for a new technician to help promote the use of Northwest wheat in South America.
Each commission will provide $30,000 per year to U.S. Wheat Associates for five years.
Long-term demand on that continent could potentially double the current demand for Northwest wheat, said Mike Miller, president of U.S. Wheat Associates and a Ritzville, Wash., farmer. He pointed to “huge” demand in Brazil and potential demand in Chile, Colombia and Peru.
“The South American market has turned into as big a market now as the Pacific Rim-Asian market,” said Darren Padget, board member of the Oregon Wheat Commission and a Sherman County farmer. Asia buys about 43 percent of U.S. exports, he said, and South and Central America about equal that percentage.
South American customers who have visited the U.S. say they need a technician to determine how to best use wheat from the U.S., and the U.S. needs to have a presence, Miller said.
The goal is to increase sales for all classes of U.S. wheat and grow the market presence.
Padget said the commissions heard about the need for a technician during a U.S. Wheat global staff meeting in Colorado last May.
The three state commissions look for projects on which they can cooperate, Padget said.
Having somebody on site is important if you’ve got a problem, he said. It could give U.S. wheat an advantage over wheat from such nations as Australia and Canada.
U.S. Wheat is looking for the right fit for the position. The job description is not completely set, Padget said.
“They’re trying not to put themselves in a box too much if the right person comes along,” he said.
Padget hopes to have a technician in place by the Latin American Wheat Buyers Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in July.
U.S. Wheat will employ the technician and the commissions will provide support for travel, equipment and other needs, he said.
“I’m kind of excited about it — it’s a great project the three states are wholeheartedly behind,” he said. “I think it’s going to do a lot of good and it’s a good use of grower dollars.”