Millers on this team are executives from mid-sized milling companies representing Japan’s National Cooperative of Millers. This first trade team from this group of millers visited the U.S. in 2014.
“This will be the first opportunity for some of these managers to personally observe all sectors of the Pacific Northwest wheat trade,” said Steve Wirsching, USW vice-president and director of the West Coast Office in Portland, Oregon, U.S. “That is important because they can influence Japan’s government grain buying decisions.”
“Our market share remains strong because U.S. farmers continue to grow top quality wheat, and because we keep all of our Japanese customers fully informed about quality, supply and prices,” said Wataru “Charlie” Utsunomiya, USW Country Manager for Japan, who will lead this team. “However, we do compete with Canadian spring wheat and Australian white wheat. That is why we give milling executives the chance to discuss our logistical and quality assurance systems face-to-face with U.S. wheat farmers, breeders and exporters.”
Given the advanced state of crop development in the Pacific Northwest (PNW), the team will likely be able to see and experience soft white (SW) wheat harvest. Starting their trip in Lewiston, Idaho, U.S., the team will tour a country elevator and a terminal elevator on the Snake River, followed by a tour and dinner at Idaho wheat commissioner Joe Anderson’s farm in Genesee.
The team will continue their trip in eastern Washington for two days. They will start in Pullman to hear from Washington State University (WSU) wheat breeders about the potential for new varieties, developed with public funds, to improve quality as well as yield. A visit to the USDA Agricultural Research Service Wheat Quality Laboratory will offer assurance that the industry’s commitment to quality remains well established and supported by the U.S. federal government. As they travel south toward the Columbia River, the millers will observe wheat harvest and meet with commercial grain handlers, with a final stop to see how wheat seed production incorporates technology to minimize environmental impact and improve safety.
In their final leg of the trip, the team has much to see in Oregon. Their day in eastern Oregon starts at the Pendleton Flour Mill, and includes a visit to the Bob Johns farm in Athena and a tour of the Oregon State University Pendleton-Ruggs Wheat Research Station. The millers will complete their observations the next day with a broad overview of the Portland area export system. Following a meeting with USW’s West Coast Office staff, regional managers with the Federal Grain Inspection Service will detail their inspection system, which the team will see in action later in the day at Columbia Grain’s export elevator. The Wheat Marketing Center will also emphasize the quality of end-products that include flour from PNW wheat.