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Budget Could Devastate Wheat Exports


Wheat experts from Washington and Idaho say the agriculture cuts in President Donald Trump’s budget proposal would have a devastating impact on U.S. wheat exports.

U.S. wheat farmers are already facing historic competition from overseas producers, and experts say Trump’s budget would only make things worse, The Spokesman-Review reported (http://bit.ly/2rgIpY3).

The Trump administration has proposed slashing conservation programs, food aid, crop insurance and trade programs that help sell American wheat to foreign buyers.

Michelle Hennings, executive director of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers, said those cuts would be especially painful for many farmers in the U.S. Northwest.

Many Washington growers need about $6 per bushel to break even, yet prices have been hovering below $5 for months, she said.

“It’s so important to trade our wheat,” she said, “because otherwise we sit on it and the price goes down.”

Trump’s budget would completely defund the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Program, which are overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The programs, created in 2002, provide funding to organizations like U.S. Wheat Associates, which has offices in 15 foreign countries. Specialists in those offices work with potential buyers and develop flour blends that suit their products.

“Those offices are helping to promote wheat sales in those countries,” said Glen Squires, executive director of the Washington Grain Commission.

U.S. wheat growers need help finding buyers now more than ever because countries near the Black Sea – Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan – are outpacing American production, Squires said. Eliminating the programs “would be devastating to the wheat industry in terms of marketing and market development,” he said.

Agriculture groups are preparing to spread awareness about this issue and others by lobbying on Capitol Hill ahead of negotiations on the farm bill that’s set to expire in 2018.

The farm bill generally identifies which programs should receive funding during the budgeting process.

Source: Morning Ag Clips

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