Wheat's future is bright
By Jennifer M. Latzke
As chairman of U.S. Wheat Associates, Don Schieber has spent a lot of 2010 and 2011 traveling the world for U.S. wheat producers and promoting the export of U.S.-grown wheat. And with the recent jump in prices, this Oklahoma wheat grower has hope for the future.
"You know, when I took over the reins, wheat was $3," he said. "Now it's $8 or more. But I can't take credit for that. I just wished I was 18 again. We've got new technologies on the horizon, and new varieties." The rush for the first biotech wheat has been the shot in the arm wheat breeding has needed, in both the private and public sector.
On the foreign trade front, Schieber said he wished we could just get our free trade agreements that have been on the table for four years or more to go through so that American growers can reap the benefits of fairer trade.
"We just need to get these free trade agreements and free market access agreements signed," he said. That's going to entail a lot of work with the administration, he added.
Foreign market access funds are also critical to the work of U.S. Wheat Associates, and Schieber reminded wheat growers that budget cuts may affect those.
"In the end, we have proven a $23 return to farmers for every $1 in access funds, and $115 returned to U.S. industry for every $1 spent," he said. "We've proven that we can create jobs with wheat."
"Looking to the future, it looks like there will be bright days ahead for wheat and agriculture," Schieber said.
Jennifer M. Latzke can be reached at 620-227-1807, or firstname.lastname@example.org.