It’s an image we sing about, “amber waves of grain,” but the public sometimes struggles to understand the journey of wheat from the seed to the field to their tables at home.
U.S. Wheat Associates is aiming to change that with the debut of its documentary “Wholesome: The Journey of U.S. Wheat,” over Facebook and other online platforms, Jan. 12. The movie tells the impressive story of the U.S. wheat export supply chain, from the scientists researching how to protect wheat from pathogens and pests, to the farmers who raise the crop, through the rest of the supply chain that brings it to domestic and foreign customers.
Steve Mercer, U.S. Wheat vice president of communications, explained that the project grew from the organization’s “Our Story” campaign to celebrate its 40th anniversary. Over the course of two years, USW staff and a professional film crew, traveled from the hard red winter wheat country of the Great Plains, to the spring wheat country of the Pacific Northwest, and everywhere in between. They gathered interviews with farmers like Michael Peters, Okarche, Oklahoma; Kyler Millershaski, Lakin, Kansas; and Justin Knopf, Salina, Kansas. Each sharing how they USW’s work has helped their farms over the past 4 decades and celebrating the organization.
Mercer said as the team wrapped up production of the 40th anniversary project in the spring of 2020, COVID-19 pandemic precautions started to impede the organization bringing international trade teams to the U.S. Those visits have been vital to USW’s mission of expanding market opportunities for U.S. wheat growers. Foreign buyers come to the U.S. and have the opportunity to meet the people who raise the crop and start building relationships that eventually lead to growth in sales.
But with pandemic precautions, those trips were on hold. That’s when the team at USW looked to what they had already gathered for the anniversary project and decided to create a 25-minute documentary movie.
“In our organization’s mission to promote U.S. wheat exports, our representatives focus on the consistently high quality of our supplies,” Mercer said. “Through this film, the people at every step of the journey to export tell their own stories about how they thoughtfully produce new varieties, care for the land and the crop, and handle the wheat responsively to ensure it meets customer needs. This is an educational program that makes the stunning beauty of the land and the emotional attachment of these dependable people to the industry a key part of the story.”
The movie was produced in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service and Federal Grain Inspection Service, along with state wheat commissions, local elevators and export elevators. The 13 overseas USW offices will be able to access it to use at their seminars, courses and trade events with world wheat buyers and end users. It premiered Jan. 12, at 1 p.m. Eastern Time (noon Central Time) over Facebook. You can also find it on demand at this link: https://vimeo.com/uswheatassociates or at http://bit.ly/WholesomePremiere. Or watch the video below.
For more information about the mission of USW, visit www.uswheat.org. And be sure to listen to our conversation with Steve Mercer on the Jan. 11 episode of HPJ Talk.
Jennifer M. Latzke can be reached at 620-227-1807 or firstname.lastname@example.org.