“Better than expected, but not what we’d hoped for.”
This is what I heard when I asked Kansas farmers about this year’s wheat harvest. Still, with the little moisture received during the growing season, the 2018 wheat crop panned out better than most Kansas farmers thought it would.
Steve Boor, Lincoln County farmer wrapped up harvest June 30, two weeks after he began. The 2018 wheat harvest dragged on longer than usual because of the pesky showers that dropped a few hundredths of rain then disappeared. The rain resulted in harvest delays as Boor and other farmers waited for the crop to dry out.
In addition to the holdups, the veteran Lincoln County wheat producer says the quality varied, the yields varied – everything varied. The wheat looked much better going into the (combine) header than it did going into the bin.
“Just spots, spots and more spots,” Boor says. “We’d be cutting along and go through a thin spot and ask, ‘what happened here?’ It obviously wasn’t the drill, it wasn’t the sprayer – it just amazed me that a field of wheat could go from little, if any wheat to good, thick wheat so quickly.”
One of the challenges harvesters face in thin wheat is traveling fast enough to keep a steady mat of crop flowing through the combine. This is necessary to utilize the machine’s large threshing capacity.
Traveling at faster speeds to ensure efficient threshing sometimes presents its own inconveniences.
“Hitting a good-sized badger hole at those speeds can certainly jar your teeth,” Boor says.
Another sign of a stressed crop this harvest included a small percentage of stalks lodged too close to the ground to recover. Some instances of broken stalks showed up throughout this year’s harvest.
Wheat protein levels on the Lincoln County crop will likely range from the upper 12s to the lower 13s. Yields varied from approximately 50 bushels-per-acre on the river bottom ground in widely isolated small patches to the mid-30s on much of the 2018 crop.
“I’m sure the wheat lightened up a bit the longer we cut,” Boor says. “Still, I’m hoping the test weight hung tough at least about 59 pounds-per-bushel.”
Amazingly enough, this year’s wheat crop demonstrated its ever-enduring properties. It proved once again, wheat needs timely moisture to produce an abundant crop.
During the early period of the growing season after the first of the year, Boor wouldn’t have bet a “plug nickel” on even harvesting this year’s crop considering the lack of snow and rain.
“You cannot fault the wheat for not yielding more,” he says. “The crop just played the hand it was dealt and did the best it could.”
After talking with neighbors and other producers across Kansas, Boor believes the crop he harvested is like many others across the state.
“I didn’t see anyone tearing up the roads with trucks hauling wheat to the elevators,” he says. “I have yet to hear anyone pounding their chest and saying, ‘Look what we cut.’”
Needless to say, there probably will not be much double cropping beans behind this harvested wheat crop. With the lack of moisture in most places of the state, farmers aren’t ready to gamble on a second crop.
The Lincoln County farmer remains optimistic the fall crops will benefit from some timely rains. This would move the milo and beans a long way down the road to a better fall harvest.
“When you’re cutting a tough wheat crop, it’s nice to look across the field and see milo that looks really good,” Boor says. “We’re not home yet, but with a few good rains, I think we could harvest a decent fall crop.”
And for those few farmers still cutting wheat in the far northwestern region of Kansas?
“Say a prayer for those still trying to finish harvest,” he says. “Wish them luck.”
ARLINGTON, Virginia — Implementation of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) without the United States is a time bomb set to demolish more than 60 years of hard work by multiple generations of U.S. farm families to develop a large and loyal market for U.S. wheat in Japan. The U.S. government has the power, however, to defuse this device and avoid an unnecessary and costly disaster.
Japan became the second country to ratify the CPTPP, which could be implemented in early 2019 after six of the 11 countries that signed the agreement have ratified it. This development comes on the same day the United States and China escalated a trade war that has already imposed harm on U.S. wheat growers, potentially compounding the difficult economic conditions further. Canada and Australia, which are major competitors to the United States in the Japanese wheat market, are also parties to the agreement, meaning implementation would put U.S. wheat farmers at a severe disadvantage in our second biggest wheat market.
Once implemented, the agreement calls for incrementally discounting the effective import tariffs that Japanese flour millers pay for imported Australian and Canadian milling wheat from about $150 to about $85 per metric ton (MT). Imported U.S. wheat effective tariffs would remain at about $150 per MT.
Sources within the Japanese milling industry estimate this disadvantage would force them to start looking at alternatives to U.S. wheat and cut average total imports of western white, dark northern spring (DNS) and hard red winter (HRW) wheat by more than half — from about 3.1 million metric tons (MMT) per year to 1.35 MMT per year or less. If nothing changes before the effective tariff schedule is fully implemented, U.S. wheat farmers and the U.S. grain trade will essentially be writing a $500 million check every year to Australian and Canadian farmers.
U.S. Wheat Associates and the National Association of Wheat Growers call on the Trump Administration to end this threat by taking the bold but necessary steps toward joining the CPTPP or engaging in bilateral negotiations. We see no other way to stop a situation that we believe will cut already unprofitable cash wheat prices even further.
BERLIN – Germany’s farmers expect a poor harvest this year due to a prolonged drought and an unusually long stretch of warm weather.
The head of Germany’s farmers association, Joachim Rukwied, said Thursday that the grain harvest is expected to reach 41 million metric tons (45.2 million tons) this year, a drop of almost 20 per cent compared with the recent five-year average.
Rukwied described conditions this year as “extreme,” particularly in Germany’s northeastern breadbasket state of Brandenburg.
He said a very short spring and record temperatures in May meant many crops failed to develop properly, prompting farmers to start harvesting early this year.
Scientists say much of Europe can expect to see average temperatures rise and extreme weather events increase over the coming decades, due to climate change.
Topeka – While there have been some recent rains, drought conditions for many areas of Kansas continue to worsen. Today Governor Jeff Colyer updated the Drought Declaration for Kansas counties with Executive Order 18-16 (attached). The update includes all 105 counties either in an emergency, warning or watch status. This order places nearly half of Kansas counties in an emergency drought status.
“Kansans need to know no matter where you live in the state, the drought is not over,” said Governor Jeff Colyer. “I’ve heard many concerns from producers and have seen the conditions first hand. We appreciate our federal partners at the Natural Resources Conservation Service as well as the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts— when we asked them to identify additional sources of assistance they responded quickly to help producers address these extreme drought conditions.”
The updated drought declaration has 50 counties in emergency status, 27 in warning status while 28 counties are in watch status. This action was recommended by Tracy Streeter, Director of the Kansas Water Office (KWO) and Chair of the Governor’s Drought Response Team.
“With reported livestock water shortages, low flows at some of our reservoirs and monthly outlooks favoring persistent drought we know it’s imperative to monitor conditions closely,” said Tracy Streeter. “Some areas of Kansas are behind more than 15 inches in moisture for the year and outlooks favor above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation in July.”
Counties in emergency stage are eligible for emergency use of water from certain state fishing lakes due to the KWO Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Kansas Department of Wildlife (KDWPT). They also become eligible for water in some Federal reservoirs.
Individuals and communities need to contact KWO for a water supply request prior to any withdrawals from lakes. They will in turn be referred to the appropriate office to obtain the necessary permit to withdraw the water.
This Executive Order and any authorized upgrade shall remain in effect for those counties so identified until rescinded by Executive Order or superseded by a subsequent Executive Order revising the drought stage status of the affected counties. Effective immediately:
- Declare a Drought Emergency, Warning or Drought Watch for the counties identified below;
- Authorize and direct all agencies under the jurisdiction of the Governor to implement the appropriate watch or warning level-drought response actions assigned in the Operations Plan of the Governor’s Drought Response Team.
The Governor’s Drought Response Team will continue to watch the situation closely and work to minimize the effects the drought has on Kansans.
For more detailed information about current conditions, see the Kansas Climate Summary and Drought Report on the Kansas Water Office website at: www.kwo.ks.gov.
County Drought Stage Declarations:
Drought Emergency: Barber, Barton, Butler, Chase, Clark, Clay, Coffey, Comanche, Cowley, Dickinson, Edwards, Ellsworth, Finney, Ford, Geary, Grant, Gray, Greenwood, Hamilton, Harper, Harvey, Haskell, Hodgeman, Kearny, Kingman, Kiowa, Lincoln, Lyon, Marion, McPherson, Meade, Morris, Morton, Osage, Ottawa, Pawnee, Pottawatomie, Pratt, Reno, Rice, Riley, Saline, Sedgwick, Seward, Shawnee, Stafford, Stanton, Stevens, Sumner, Wabaunsee
Drought Warning: Allen, Anderson, Atchison, Brown, Chautauqua, Doniphan, Douglas, Elk, Ellis, Franklin, Greeley, Jackson, Jefferson, Lane, Leavenworth, Montgomery, Nemaha, Neosho, Ness, Rush, Russell, Scott, Trego, Wallace, Wichita, Wilson, Woodson
Drought Watch: Bourbon, Cherokee, Cheyenne, Cloud, Crawford, Decatur, Gove, Graham, Jewell, Johnson, Labette, Linn, Logan, Marshall, Miami, Mitchell, Norton, Osborne, Phillips, Rawlins, Republic, Rooks, Sheridan, Sherman, Smith, Thomas, Washington, Wyandotte
ARLINGTON, Virginia — In response to a U.S. Department of Commerce Section 232 investigation into automobile and auto parts imports, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) once again expressed concern about using questionable national security arguments as a basis for import restrictions and the potential for retaliation from trading partners.
In comments on the investigation submitted June 22, 2018, USW strongly encouraged the Commerce Department to “stick to serious national security concerns when using Section 232 and avoid making this process even more ridiculous than it has become after the steel and aluminum investigations.”
Before any restrictions on automobile and auto parts imports are taken under Section 232, USW said Commerce “should consider the fallout if other countries follow suit and impose restrictions on U.S. wheat or other products as a result of their own national security concerns, whether real or imagined.”
As a representative of U.S. wheat farm families who rely on export demand to boost their income potential, USW was among the first agricultural organizations to publicly oppose the use of Section 232 to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Farmers have already been hit hard by tariffs on hundreds of food and agricultural products in retaliation for recent unilateral trade actions and much more is expected soon.
While the reactions of countries to U.S. steel and aluminum protectionism has been negative for farmers, USW said the case of automobiles is much more dangerous because the dollar figures are so much larger.
“Automotive imports in 2017 were about ten times larger than steel imports and much of this came from significant wheat importers like Mexico, Japan, South Korea and the European Union,” USW said in its comments. “The chances that U.S. wheat farmers will face retaliation increases substantially if the final measures reflect the scope of the investigation.”
USW also argues that invalid use of the national security exemption created in Section 232 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade undermines effective global trading rules.
“Whatever surface level plausibility existed for justifying restriction on steel and aluminum imports is entirely absent when it comes to automobiles,” USW stated. “The breathtaking leap of logic required to recommend tariffs on imported automobiles and parts due to their threats to national security suggest that the only plausible reasons for this action are either economic protectionism in violation of our WTO commitments or a negotiating tactic. Use of this statute as a negotiating tactic is an abuse of the authority granted by Congress and economic protection is available through trade remedy laws if the need for protection meets the requirements of the relevant statutes. In either case, the Department of Commerce should find that these imports do not threaten national security.”
ARLINGTON, Virginia — The familiar African proverb says that when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. Unfortunately for America’s farmers, that grass is the wheat growing in their fields as the big guys in Washington, D.C., and Beijing escalate their trade fight.
China’s state-run importing agency and private flour millers bought an average of more than 1.1 million metric tons of U.S. wheat the past five years because our farmers produce higher quality grain than China can grow on its own. Following the Trump Administration’s announcement of new tariffs on $50 billion of imported Chinese goods, China hit back with tariffs of its own, including a 25 percent tariff on U.S. wheat imports. In response, the White House is ordering trade officials to draw up a list of $200 billion worth of Chinese goods that would be hit with a 10 percent tariff on top of the 25 percent tariffs already promised. In a trade war, agriculture always gets hit first and the effects of these tariffs could prove devastating for farmers.
No one in China will be hurt if the retaliatory U.S. wheat tariff is implemented. China has huge amounts of stored wheat and they can purchase what they need from Australia, Canada or even Kazakhstan, although Chinese consumers will miss the opportunity to experience higher quality products made from U.S. wheat. Instead, the outcome is likely to further erode the incomes of farm families who strongly support addressing the real concerns about China’s trade policies.
According to the USDA, net cash wheat farm income is projected to be down more than 21 percent this year compared to last. U.S. wheat growers are not in the business of ceding a market like China that wants to buy their crop and could buy so much more of it. That is why in 2016, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) called for World Trade Organization (WTO) cases intended to push China to meet its WTO commitments on domestic support and tariff rate quota management. We are happy that the Trump Administration supports and is pursuing those cases.
USW and NAWG know that farmers still want our organizations to keep fighting for fair opportunities to compete in China and other countries. They would prefer, however, to see our government do that first within the processes already in place.
Instead, the Administration is doubling down on a tactical policy that makes an already risky business of agriculture even more volatile. Policies like the ones being proposed will only make times harder for farmers, and the Administration’s vague promises of protection for the farmers we represent offers little consolation.
Our country’s continuing agricultural trade surplus is proof that America’s farmers can compete successfully in the world based on the quality and value of what they produce, given the freedom to do so.
Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) again applauds the Senate Committee on Agriculture for introducing a bi-partisan Farm Bill that we hope can quickly move through the chamber. Tuesday, NAWG sent a letter to the Senate Ag Committee outlining provisions that are beneficial for wheat growers and noted areas that could be improved:
“In the letter, NAWG welcomes the changes to the Title I Commodity Safety Net Programs to allow producers the opportunity to re-elect programs on a covered commodity by covered commodity basis. Additionally, NAWG views the administrative improvements made to Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) as a step right in right direction and allowing farmers access to payment rate information sooner will benefit wheat growers.
“NAWG continues to advocate for prioritizing working lands conservation programs in the Farm Bill. The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) help growers adopt conservation practices on their farming operations, and funding for these programs should be made a priority in conservation spending. NAWG also supports the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) but is concerned about the bill’s language that narrows targeting of continuous sign-up acres.
“Trade and access to new markets are vital for wheat farmers to stay in business. NAWG thanks the Committee for reauthorizing and increasing funding for the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development Program (FMD). MAP and FMD are critical to building and expanding United States wheat into new markets and increasing wheat demand around the world.
“Lastly, NAWG appreciates the increased authorization and funding of the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative to help find solutions to this troublesome plant disease. These research programs are critical for wheat farmers. We also support the reauthorization of the Hatch Act, Smith-Lever Act, Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) programs, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR).”