Commentary: The long, positive relationship between U.S. wheat farmers and Japan

Commentary: The long, positive relationship between U.S. wheat farmers and Japan

By Vine Peterson, U.S. Wheat Associates

August 4, 2020


I can say with certainty, there is no food industry relationship in the world that goes back farther than the relationship between U.S. wheat producers and the Japanese our milling industry.

It was in the late 1940’s that U.S. wheat producers first sat down with Japanese our millers and set the bedrock foundation of a commercial friendship that has continually grown for more than 70 years.

Together we have faced and conquered many obstacles — and we’ve always come out closer and stronger than we began.

We take our promise and commitment to provide a consistent and reliable supply of wheat to Japan and beyond as our most important obligation. And, while the past ve months have turned our business, economic and personal worlds completely upside down, we have learned a great deal about ourselves and our resilience as people and an industry.

We have learned we all have immense capacity and untapped creativity helping us work through this pandemic and continue supplying critical food resources for our people and the world.

The U.S. food industry was declared an essential business right from the beginning and every effort was undertaken from the farm, through the grain handling and marketing system and to federal grain inspection and phytosanitary certification to ensure that every vessel to Japan and every other destination was loaded on time.

The very few bumps in that road were quickly dealt with and the export cadence never suffered.

The approximately 100 million bushels of U.S. wheat that Japan imports every year represents about 10% of our entire annual wheat export volume. That is a source of pride and motivation for our industry because Japan represents arguably the most diverse, sophisticated milling and baking industries in the world.

The pandemic has forced a change in the way we communicate and work with our good friends and customers in Japan. We very much regret that we have not been able to reliably board an airplane and travel across the Pacific to be able sit across the table from one another as business partners should do.

We cannot do that today, but we give you our commitment to provide the information you, and all our importing partners around the world, need to thrive.

For now, we must wait patiently for the world’s research community to develop a vaccine for this virus so that we can eventually return to something more normal. But — as we have done for more than 70 years — we will continue engaging our best creative thoughts and finding ways to work together to keep the wheat supply chain fully intact and provide the food that our consumers depend upon.

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