Kansas wheat growers already know they are second to none when it comes to producing a high quality product that has enormous value to people all over the world.
But that doesn't mean the message from Shannon Schlecht, vice president of policy for the U.S. Wheat Associates that Kansas wheat is very important to overseas buyers.
Schlect spoke at the Kansas Commodity Classic, held Feb. 13 in Manhattan. U.S. wheat is the world's most reliable choice.
"Kansas is the biggest hard red winter producing state so customers do want to know what's happening in Kansas so they're always interested to stop and see what's going on here in Kansas.
And the impact that it might have on their purchasing decisions or on the wheat market in general," Schlect said.
Focus on value
U.S. Wheat Associates focuses on value, rather than price, he said. If buyers are able to source cheaper wheat from elsewhere, they will soon learn that U.S. wheat provides customers with a better quality product, he said.
"One of the main focuses of our work is really to look at value. We do a lot of work, especially in Latin America, as to how can hard red winter perform better and be a greater value to our customers than Canadian or Argentinean wheat," Schlect said.
Schlecht also discussed the impact of the passage of The Agriculture Act of 2014 on the work of U.S. Wheat Associates.
"With the farm bill being passed, in the trade title, there is funding for the market access program and the foreign market development programs. These are cooperator programs that U.S. Wheat Associates uses to do our overseas market development work in addition to the checkoff funds from the 19 state wheat commission members."
Maintaining global relationships
He said the work that U.S. Wheat does on behalf of producers is essential.
"We have competition around the world. Wheat is grown in many different countries. Buyers have opportunities to go and source their wheat from different regions. Having lived overseas, I can tell you that it is critical for us to maintain those relationships and to go visit our customers on their home turf and to build that relationship and to have a name and a face for the U.S. wheat producer around the world so that our customers know who they can reach out to if they have a question, if they need education, or need some help as to how to purchase U.S. wheat," Schlecht said. "They know exactly who to turn to, and we can assist and make sure that we keep us wheat in front of them as the most reliable choice and the best value for the products they need to produce."
Kansas wheat producers, through their two-penny per bushel checkoff, are able to maintain these relationships all over the world.