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The Playbook


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									Washington Association of Wheat Growers                                                          NONPROFIT
109 East First Avenue, Ritzville, WA 99169
                                                                                                 US POSTAGE
   Address Service Requested                                                                         PAID
                                                                                                POST FALLS, ID
                                                                                                PERMIT NO. 32
              han are                                                   c
                                                                                        MARCH 2011

                                   The official publication of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers
           Volume 54 • Number 3
        The official publication of
             ASSOCIATION OF
             WHEAT GROWERS
          109 East First Avenue
        Ritzville, WA 99169-2394
     (509) 659-0610 • 800-598-6890
              In association with:


  (509) 659-0610 • 800-598-6890
                                                         WAWG members visit with Washington State Rep. Brian Blake (far right), a Democrat from Aberdeen,
  $125 per year
                                                         who is chair of the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee.

                                                                Features                                   42
  Kara Rowe • kararowe@wawg.org
  (509) 456-2481                                                                                                      Safety Matters
GRAPHIC DESIGN                                                                                                        A discussion with the Washington
  Trista Crossley • Kara Rowe
AD SALES MANAGER                                       24       Handled with care
                                                                What happens after you
                                                                                                                      State Dept. of Labor & Industries

                                                                                                          63          Researchers go to pot!
  Kevin Gaffney • KevinGaffney@mac.com
  (509) 235-2715                                                deliver your grain, and how it
                                                                                                                      A look at coleoptile length, and why
AD DESIGN                                                       gets to your customers
                                                                                                                      it is vital to a strong wheat plant
  Devin Taylor • Trista Crossley
  Michelle Hennings • michelle@wawg.org                 32      Over the river...
                                                                A look at the importance of               78          Your Wheat Life
  (509) 659-0610 • 800-598-6890
                                                                the river system
  Address changes, extra copies, subscriptions

  Chauna Carlson • frontdesk@wawg.org
  (509) 659-0610 • 800-598-6890
  Subscriptions are $50 per year
WAWG EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE                               WAWG President’s Perspective                3
  Ben Barstow • Palouse                                Dialogue                                    4
  Eric Maier • Ritzville
                                                       WAWG at Work                                8
  SECRETARY/TREASURER                                  Policy Matters                             16
  Ryan Kregger • Touchet
                                                       WAWG Membership Form                       22
  Brett Blankenship • Washtucna                        WAWG Features                              24
  APPOINTED MEMBERS                                    Profiles                                   46
  Brad Isaak • Coulee City
  JP Kent • Walla Walla                                Wheat Watch                                48
  Dan McKinley • Dayton
                                                       WGC Chairman’s Column                      53
   Wheat Life (ISSN 0043-4701) is published by the
Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG):
                                                       WGC Review                                 54
109 E. First Avenue • Ritzville, WA 99169-2394
                                                       WGC Reports                                58
    Eleven issues per year with a combined August/
September issue. Standard (A) postage paid at          WGC Wide World of Wheat                    74
Ritzville, Washington and additional entry offices.
                                                       Quoteworthy                                76
   Contents of this publication may not be reprinted                                                          A seagoing vessel gets her load of grain at the CLD-
without permission.                                    Your Wheat Life                            78          Pacific export facility at the Port of Portland.
   Advertising in Wheat Life does not indicate         Advertiser Index                           82
endorsement of an organization, product or political                                                           All photos are Shutterstock images or taken by Wheat
candidate by WAWG.                                                                                                        Life staff unless otherwise noted

   President’s Perspective
Working for you, friends                                              would be called on for the next bedbug
By Ben Barstow                                                        outbreak or the next Dutch elm disease.
    In case you hadn’t noticed, meeting season has been in               Regulations and politics can be threat-
full swing for more than a month. If you haven’t had your             ening. The real danger, the life-threat-
fill, there is still a little time left to get all “meeting-ed up,”   ening physical kind, is already here for
especially in the later, wetter areas like where I am. Among          some of us, and it is looming just ahead
this year’s slate of offerings, WAWG has sponsored a series           for everyone. Be safe out there. In the
of marketing education meetings around the state. I hope              rush to dive into spring work, bad things
you took the opportunity to take in one of these sessions,            can happen. I know, it is an enormous
as WAWG Marketing Committee Chairman, Dave Harlow,                    amount of pressure when the neighbors’
has put a lot of work into arranging them.                            wheels are turning and yours aren’t, but when we are scur-
   Of the many meetings, conversations and emails I have              rying like mad we increase the odds of an accident. In the
dealt with over the last two months, the ones with the most           mad dash or when fatigue dulls the mind or when distrac-
value to all of us have been WAWG’s activity in Olympia.              tions and fatigue and overconfidence combine, that is when
We have “trod the hallowed halls” of the temporary of-                most accidents happen.
fices (some call it a two-story trailer park) within the state           For me, fatigue really hits about the third long day in a
legislature twice so far in our attempts to influence their           row, but please be aware of how tired you are every day.
impact on us all. There have been proposals to require not            We push ourselves to deny how beat we are so that we can
just a CDL, but 160 hours of training for farm truck driv-            keep going. We’ve got to get those extra hours, sometimes
ers. The bills to ban the use of phosphorous fertilizer have          extra minutes, in because time can become bushels. When it
been scaled back to exempt agriculture this year, but the             is the hardest to do, is exactly when it is most important to
environmental community is not going to give up until                 take the extra time to be safe. Believe it or not, Washington
commercial fertilizer is a thing of the past. Only time will          State Department of Labor and Industries does not want to
tell the final outcome, but your WAWG membership dues                 investigate a death or injury on your farm.
have made it possible to inject wheat farmers’ views into                I confess, I have completely selfish motives for this “safe-
the middle of the process.                                            ty nagging.” We all have more than enough work to get
    The overweight pachyderm at the center of every discus-           done. None of us needs to come over to your place and fin-
sion in Olympia is the budget. Our state budget picture is            ish your work because you have injured yourself, but you
more ugly than a cloudburst on summer fallow. Many sa-                know that we will. Be safe, which includes getting the rest
cred oxen will be horribly gored in the next biennium, some           you need, out of consideration for your neighbors. None of
will be slaughtered. WSU’s Ag Research Center, the true               us wants to shut off the tractor to come to a funeral.
experts every field man and grower re-
lies on, has already been severely bled.
We have all tried to impress upon the
legislature, the folly of sacrificing the
team that draws agricultural progress
forever forward.
   Ag research doesn’t happen over-
night, so we have not yet begun to feel
the previous cuts that have already
weakened it, but further cuts will be
to the only people we can turn to with
the next new disease, insect or weed
problem that threatens our livelihoods.
Few seem to grasp the wide-ranging
consequences of cuts to ag research.
Most experts in applied biology are em-
ployed in ag research, and further cuts
there could eliminate the experts that

                                                                                                                 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011   3
    Corrections, corrections, corrections                                                     Hi Kara,
       In our February issue of Wheat Life,                                                   Thank you for printing Kriss
    we had a couple of mistakes I’d like to                                                Mikkelsen’s sage comments about wind
    apologize for and rectify. First, in the                                               generation of electricity (Taking the air
    story “Taking the air out of wind genera-                                              out of wind generation, Wheat Life, V
    tion” we talked about the different costs                                              54 No 2). It is very important to get the
    of power. We need to correct our use of                                                truth out about wind and solar power,
    kilowatt hours. In reality, wind genera-                                               and to get hydro power recognized as
    tion costs anywhere from $89 to $129 per                                               “clean energy.” Subsidies and mandates
    megawatt hour, compared to hydro-                                                      to give wind power priority in the market
    power that costs $30 per megawatt hour.                                                are examples of government’s lack of
    We also mislabeled the graph on page                                                   thought in reacting to climate change.
    54. It should have read per megawatt                                                   Plug-in electric automobiles are an-
    hour instead of per kilowatt hour. Still, the                                          other example. Any increase in electrical
    spread between the costs of wind and                                                   demand postpones the date when older,
    hydro power are substantial. This was a                                                coal-fired generators can be retired. Until
    simple error and by no means an attempt                                                other sources of energy are developed,
    to blow things out of proportion.                                                      these vehicles are in reality coal-powered
       Also, in our fun tractor story at the end                                           and their operation results in about the
    of the magazine, we mislabeled the AC-M                                                same amount of air pollution as did the
    Crawler on page 73. The tractor shown is                                               Stanley Steamer.
    actually an old Caterpillar that is still in                                             ...I hope Wheat Life will continue to
    good working fashion!                                                                  present this kind of information and
       My sincere apologies for any confusion                                              that you will offer it to other media. The
    these mistakes caused. We wish you the                                                 public must be informed before they can
    best this spring season as tractors begin                                              make smart choices when voting.
    to roll and things start greening up!                                                     Thank you for reading my message.
      Cheers friends,                                                                         Everett Burts, Wenatchee, Wash.
      Kara Rowe, Wheat Life Editor

    Wind power generates lots of thoughts                              After reading “Taking the air out of wind generation” by
      Kara,                                                          Scott Yates, I have to say I’ve heard this song before by Ms.
       Just read your article on wind power and wanted to add        Mikkelson. Word for word it was delivered at Inland’s fall
    one thought. If we cannot avoid this option, at the very least   meeting at Northern Quest Casino.
    Congress should enact legislation requiring that all wind           But, on page 54 you show graphics of wind vs. solar vs.
    machines must be manufactured in the U.S.A. It is our tax dol-   hydro stating cost per kilowatt hours...it should have said
    lars that subsidize the project. It just might help employment   megawatt hours...who wouldn’t be alarmed by this false
    and debt reduction to quit sending tax money to Sweden or        information.
    Denmark or whatever country is building the windmills. But
                                                                       Don Peters, Davenport, Wash.
    perhaps that is way too sensible for those folks in D.C. who
    know much more than those of us who are country bumpkins.
                                                                        Share your comments with Kara via e-mail at kararowe@wawg.org,
      Tom Baker, Waitsburg, Wash.                                    or mail them to 109 East First Avenue, Ritzville, WA 99169-2394.
                                                                       Please keep your submissions less than 300 words.
    Taking care of business
    ...at home
                       Washington my home;
                      Where ever I may roam;
                  This is my land, my native land,
                       Washington, my home.
                     Our verdant forest green,
                     Caressed by silvery stream;
             From mountain peaks to fields of wheat.
                                                                 WAWG members outside the capitol building in Olympia, Wash.
                       Washington, my home.
             -Washington, My Home (official state song)                 200 faculty positions and supply budgets. Specifically, it is tied
                                                                        to 40 plant science faculty, 11 entomology faculty and 13 plant
                                                                        pathology faculty. Cutting these fundamental resources will
       They may be forgotten lyrics, but they are the epitome of
                                                                        mean a cut to critical on-going research. The next time farm-
    what your WAWG delegates fought for in Olympia recently.
                                                                        ers face the newest disease, pest, drought or nutrient defi-
    More than a dozen WAWG members travelled across the
                                                                        ciency, the public research done at WSU will be compromised
    mountains and met with about 30 legislators from around the
                                                                        through future budget reductions. Overall, the message was
    state. They met with Democrats and Republicans from their
                                                                        well-received and legislators agreed on the importance of ag
    home districts, as well as legislators from the west side. WAWG
                                                                        research as a vital resource to the state economy.
    members roamed the office halls among other lobbying
    groups such as the public school employees, parent-teacher
    association and public employees groups. Each group was
    intent on saving their interests from looming budget cuts.           How much will college
                                                                         tuition be in 10 years?
        On this trip, WAWG had a relatively short list of priorities.
    At the top of the list was protecting the Agricultural Research
    Center (ARC) at Washington State University from devastating
                                                                            Further cuts to higher education as a whole will mean a
    cuts in the upcoming 2011-2013 biennium budget. Through
                                                                         complete change in philosophy. “When I went to college,
    the work of WAWG and a united effort with other state ag
                                                                         tuition fees covered about 30 percent of the cost and the
    groups, WSU avoided a $2 million cut to the ARC for the re-
                                                                         state picked up about 70 percent,” explained Jim Jesernig,
    mainder of the current fiscal year. Ag research funding at WSU
                                                                         WAWG’s lobbyist. “Now, with all of the cuts to funding,
    is reported differently than other colleges within the univer-
                                                                         we’re going to witness a complete switch in that equation.
    sity due to federal mandate. Because of that, it sits as discre-
                                                                         70 percent will be covered by tuition fees and roughly 30
    tionary funding and is usually looked at first when budgets
                                                                         percent will be covered by the state.”
    need to be cut. Ag research funding, however, is tied to about

                    Washington, my
From mountain peaks     home.
  to fields of wheat.

                                     WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011   9

                                                                                                                  WAWG delegates also raised con-
                                                                                                               cern over the pending phosphorus
                                                                                                               reduction bills that are in both the
                                                                                                               state House of Representatives and
                                                                                                               state Senate. The bills limit the use
                                                                                                               of phosphorus fertilizers by target-
                                                                                                               ing turf grass, and they are strongly
                                                                                                               opposed by the entire agricultural
                                                                                                               industry. As written, the bills have
                                                                                                               many flaws including:

                                                                                                               • An intent section that inaccurately
                                                                                                               claims turf fertilizer is a significant
                                                                                                               surface water pollutant that is not
                                                                                                               necessary for a healthy lawn;
                                                                                                               • Bans the use of phosphorus fertilizer
                                                                                                               for forestry, houseplants, shrub beds,
                                                                                                               golf courses, sports fields and other
                                                                                                               uses and
 Rep. Joe Schmick (R-Colfax) talked to WAWG members about the next biennium budget and the challenges
 ahead. Below, Rep. Brad Klippert (R-Kennewick) also met with our members. As you can tell by his hat, he is   • Bans retailers, including farm stores
 an enthusiastic supporter of Washington agriculture.                                                          and agricultural dealers, from even
                                                                                                               displaying any type of fertilizer con-
                                                                                                               taining phosphorus.

                                                                                    At this time the bills exempt agriculture. However, the
                                                                                 industry feels this is the beginning of a very dangerous prec-
                                                                                 edent. Many agree that phosphorus is one of the more stable
                                                                                 elements when applied to the soil. It does not move or leach
                                                                                 away like others. If a ban begins with this nutrient, it may be
                                                                                 difficult to stop future nutrient bans. “This is a measure that
                                                                                 gets the camel’s nose under the tent,” explained Ben Barstow,
                                                                                 WAWG president and Palouse area farmer. “The ‘science’ they
                                                                                 are spreading around the legislature is more like a sales-
                                                                                 man’s testimonial. It would never be accepted as science if
                                                                                 we were talking about registering a pesticide, but it seems to
                                                                                 be plenty good enough if we are talking about handicapping
                                                                                 agriculture,” he said. The basis of any fertilizer mix is nitrogen,
                                                                                 phosphorus and potassium, otherwise known as N-P-K. These
                                                                                 bills would mean a ban on any popular garden fertilizer, such
                                                                                 as a 10-10-10 MiracleGrow mix. The bills do, however, exempt
                                                                                 organic fertilizers.
                                                                                    WAWG also strongly opposed a proposed increase to the
                                                                                 Model Toxics Control Account (MTCA) tax. The increase would
                                                                                 be used to clean up stormwater drainages. The legislators
                                                                                 who proposed the tax are getting around the voter mandated
                                                                                 “no new taxes” ideology by calling it a fee. In reality, it is an
                                                                                 increase in taxes, and it would increase gas prices by about
                                                                                 three cents per gallon. It also specifically targets agricultural
                                                                                 chemicals like herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and fertiliz-
                                                                                 ers. Farmers and the general public already pay a MTCA


 tax on all of these products, and
 the money is supposed to be
 used on environmental cleanup
 projects. Instead, the state has
                                        Meet your WAWG officers
 been using the $250 million              President Ben Barstow, Palouse
 generated by the current tax to          Wheat Life: Where did you grow up?
 help balance the state budget.            Barstow: Though I graduated from Lewiston,
 WAWG argued that the money to          I have always considered Orofino, where I went
 fund the cleanup efforts is already    to grade school, as HOME. My father had his
 there, and that the state should       own plumbing business until we moved back to
 use the money as it was originally     Lewiston when he went back to being a Union
 intended.                              Plumber and Pipefitter—good thing, as it turned
     Finally, your WAWG delegation      out we needed the lavish health benefits. My
 fought against the proposed cuts       mother grew up on a farm above Almota, and I
 to fair funding. In her proposed       spent summers on the farm through most of junior
 2011-2013 budget, Governor             high and high school. That is where I decided I
 Gregoire cuts the Fair Fund from       would like to farm. 
 $4 million to $1 million. The intent     Wheat Life: Where do you farm today?
 is to provide funding for com-
 munity and youth shows, but not           Barstow: I used to joke about career aspira-
 county fairs. “This wouldn’t affect    tions of “finding a Palouse farmer’s daughter who
 the biggies like the Puyallup Fair,    didn’t have any brothers who wanted to farm.” And
 but it would be devastating to our     then I did. The joke was on me, because 30 years ago last month it came true.
 small county fairs,” explained Eric      Wheat Life: What kind of farm do you operate?
 Maier, WAWG vice president and           Barstow: Same as everyone else in Whitman County: dryland winter
 Ritzville area farmer. “They would     wheat, spring barley, spring wheat and dry green peas.
 have to be completely self suf-
                                          Wheat Life: How about your family?
 ficient, and I don’t know if many
 of them are able to do that. We          Barstow: I still go to Lewiston to have lunch with my 83-year-old father. 
 owe it to our kids to fight for fair     My wife, Janet, earned a degree in Ag Communications from Purdue
 funding.”                              University. She is the curator of the local history and printing museum and
     After two long days of pound-      much more.
 ing the pavement and renewing             My daughter, Mary McDonald, graduated from the University of Idaho with
 relationships with legislators,        a degree in Agricultural Systems Management. We are anticipating the arrival
 your WAWG delegates gained the         of Lyda Grace McDonald this month! Mary is also the manager of Turnbow Flat
 trust of many. WAWG will also be       livestock operations.
 hosting many of the legislators           My son, Tyler, is in the U.S. Marine Corps active reserve and is a student
 for the annual spring tour. This       at Austin Community College, Austin, Texas. He spent 12 months in Iraq as a
 is an opportunity for legislators      public affairs officer with the 1st Marine Logistics Group. He also designed and
 to visit the farmland of Eastern       launched The Convoy, an online news magazine for 1stMLG.
 Washington. WAWG educates
                                          Wheat Life: What’s the most influential change/equipment/practice you’ve
 them on the landscape and com-
                                        seen develop in the last decade?
 mon farming practices. The tour
 has proven to be a highly suc-           Barstow: Herbicide resistant weeds, or, in the last 20 years, the introduc-
 cessful educational tool, and this     tion of jointed goatgrass.
 year they will be touring through        Wheat Life: What goals would you like to see accomplished during your
 the Grant County area. While it is     tenure as a WAWG officer?
 highly dependent on when the
                                          Barstow: The beginnings of a closer and continuing relationship with our
 legislature agrees on a budget,
                                        neighboring state grower organizations.
 WAWG is hoping to conduct the
 tour in June.

                                                         Thank you to our WAWG
Doing what matters...
                                                         Industry Supporters
  Each month, the Washington Grain Alliance (WGA)—       Adams County FSA
an alliance between the Washington Grain Commission      Ag Enterprise Supply, Inc.
(WGC) and Washington Association of Wheat Growers        Ag Link, Inc.
(WAWG)—works, travels and attends meetings on be-        Agri Spray, Inc.
half of Washington’s farmers. Here are some of the key   AgVentures NW, LLC
activities from January and February 2011:               Almira Farmers Warehouse Co.
                                                         Almota Elevator Co.
                                                         AmericanWest Bank
     WGA attended the USW/NAWG winter                    anderson+company, PLLC
         conference in Washington, D.C.                  Arrow Machinery
                                                         Associated Independent Agencies, Inc., Mike Rydbom
                                                         Associated Independent Agencies, Inc., Steve Witthuhn
     WAWG members and staff made hill visits in          Association of WA Aerial Applicators
     Washington, D.C., and also met with NRCS,           B & R Aerial Crop Care, Inc.
                 EPA and NOAA                            Baker Boyer Bank
                                                         Banner Bank
                                                         Big Bend Electric Cooperative
     WGC staff travelled to Central America to           Blue Mountain Aviation
       meet with soft white and club buyers              Brian A. Winslow
                                                         Brock, Carpenter, McGuire & DeWulf, P.S.
                                                         Buck & Affiliates Insurance West
     WAWG members and staff travelled to Olym-           Capital Press Newspaper
       pia to meet with freshmen legislators             Central Washington Grain Growers, Inc.
                                                         Century Publishing
                                                         CF Industries, Inc., Ritzville Terminal
     WGA members and staff attended Ag Expo,             Chipman & Taylor Chevrolet-Oldsmobile Co.
     manned a booth and met with area farmers            Chris Arnberg Insurance Agency
                                                         CoBank National Bank
                                                         Colfax Grange Supply Co., Inc.
     WAWG held a marketing seminar in Pasco              Columbia County Grain Growers
                for area farmers                         Columbia Grain, Inc.
                                                         Columbia Grain International
                                                         Connell Grain Growers
     WAWG members and staff travelled to                 Conover Insurance
        Olympia to meet with legislators                 Cooperative Agricultural Producers, Inc.
                                                         Country Insurance & Financial Services
                                                         Crop Production Services, Almira
     WGA members and staff attended the annual           Crop Production Services, Coulee City
          Research Review in Pullman                     Crop Production Services, Pomeroy
                                                         Crop Production Services, Waterville
                                                         Davenport Union Warehouse Co.
     WGC staff travelled to the Middle East to           Dave’s Auto Body & Glass, Inc.
        meet with soft white wheat buyers                Denise Morris
                                                         Department of Natural Resources
                                                         Dirk A Glessner
      WAWG members and staff travelled to Tam-           Doyle Electric, Inc.
      pa, Fla., for the Commodity Classic to meet        Dr. Douglas E. Hille, D.D.S.
   with corn, soybean and other commodity farm-          Dr. R. James Cook
   ers. Discussion focused on the EPA pesticide          DuPont
                     review process                      Dusty Farm Co-Op, Inc.

                                                                                                              WAWG AT WORK     WL
Ed Poe Agency Insurance                     Reese, Baffney, Frol & Grossman, P.S.         USDA-NRCS/WSU
Ephrata Auto Parts                          Ritzville Parts House, Inc.                   USDA-Risk Management Agency
Farm & Home Supply                          Ritzville Warehouse Company                   Wagner Seed Company
Farmington State Bank                       Rock Steel Structures, Inc.                   Walla Walla Farmers Cooperative
Great Plains                                Rural Community Insurance Services            Wash. State Crop Improvement Assoc.
Guinn Enterprises, Inc.                     S.C. Communications                           Waterville Family Grocery, Inc.
Hager Seed Processing, Inc.                 Schaefer Refrigeration, Inc.                  Whitgro, Inc.
Hermance Insurance Agency LLC               Snider Trucking Service, Inc.                 Whitman College
Hille Spray Service, Inc.                   Spence Tire Factory                           Wilbur-Eillis Company
Horse Heaven Grain, LLC                     SRCC, DBA Agri-Business Council               Wilhelm Seed, LLC
Inland Empire Milling Co.                   SS Equipment                                  WSU Co-Op Extension, Aaron Esser
Jess Ford of Pullman                        Stonebraker McQuary Insurance, Don McQuary    WSU Crop & Soil Sciences, Bill Schillinger
Johnson Seed                                Stonebraker McQuary Insurance, Kent Meacham   WSU Director of Ag Research Center
KD Investors, LLC                           Summit Capital Management, LLC                Jerry Robinson
Kirkpatrick, Utgaard & Perry, P.S.          Sunshine Sales & Marketing
L & G Ranch Supply, Inc.                    Syngenta
Lamont Grain Growers, Inc.                  T & S Sales, Inc.
Leffel, Otis & Warwick, Todd King           The McGregor Company, Tomco
Leffel, Otis & Warwick, Jim Leffel          The McGregor Company, Colfax
Leffel, Otis & Warwick, Brian Madison       The McGregor Company, Columbia Seed
Leffel, Otis & Warwick, Lance Tower         The McGregor Company, Connell
Lewis Clark Terminal, Inc.                  The McGregor Company, Davenport
Lind Dryland Experiment Station             The McGregor Company, Dayton
Lloyds, Inc & Blue Mountain Insurance       The McGregor Company, Eltopia
McDonald Zaring Insurance                   The McGregor Company, Endicott
Michael Jay’s Restaurant                    The McGregor Company, Garfield
Micro-Ag, Inc.                              The McGregor Company, Harrington
Mid-Columbia Insurance, Inc.                The McGregor Company, Horse Heaven
Minnick-Hayer, Attorneys at Law             The McGregor Company, LaCrosse
MK Commodities, Inc.                        The McGregor Company, Lind
MOHS Properties, LLC                        The McGregor Company, Oakesdale
Nelson Irrigation Corporation               The McGregor Company, Plaza
NW Farm Credit Services, Alan Bafus         The McGregor Company, Pomeroy
NW Farm Credit Services, KayDee Gilkey      The McGregor Company, Pullman
NW Farm Credit Services, Emily Gordon       The McGregor Company, Quincy
NW Farm Credit Services, Ben Holling        The McGregor Company, Ritzville
NW Farm Credit Services, Steve Kaufman      The McGregor Company, Sprague
NW Farm Credit Services, Alan Kirpes        The McGregor Company, St. John
NW Farm Credit Services, Abby VanderPlaat   The McGregor Company, Tammany
NW Farm Credit Services, Lewiston           The McGregor Company, Tekoa
Northwest Grain Growers, Inc.               The McGregor Company, Thornton
Novozymes Biologicals                       The McGregor Company, Touchet
Nu Chem                                     The McGregor Company, Uniontown
P & P Truck & Trailer Repair                The McGregor Company, Waitsburg
Peripheral Vision                           The McGregor Company, Walla Walla
PNW Farmers Cooperative                     The McGregor Company, Washtucna
Pomeroy Grain Growers                       The McGregor Company, Wilbur
Port of Douglas County                      Thomsen Insurance, Inc.
Primeland Cooperatives                      Tidewater
Puget Sound Energy, Jay Takemura            Tri-Cities Grain, LLC
Puget Sound Energy, Anne Walsh              Union Elevator & Warehouse Co.
Rabo AgriFinance                            US Bank

                                                                                                           WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011   15
 Washington wheat farmer
 receives honor
 for conservation
    For her superior service to the conservation community
 in promoting and leading conservation on private lands,
 Nicole Berg-Tobin recently received the national Olin Sims
 Conservation Leadership Award.
    USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
 Chief Dave White presented the award during a special
 awards banquet held Feb. 1. It coincided with the National
 Association of Conservation Districts’ (NACD) annual meet-
 ing in Nashville, Tenn. The NRCS/NACD award is presented
 in honor of the late Olin Sims, conservation leader and
                                                                                                                                          BERG PHOTO
 NACD president from McFadden, Wyo.
                                                                    Chief White and Berg-Tobin at the National Association of Conservation Districts’
   Berg-Tobin, of Patterson, Wash., serves as the South-            annual meeting last month.
 Central Area Director for the Washington Association of
 Conservation Districts and is a Washington Association of
 Wheat Growers’ representative on the NRCS State Technical             ily found (about 5 percent incidence) in wheat fields in the
 Advisory Committee. She is a third generation wheat farmer            Willamette Valley of western Oregon.
 and former board chair for the Benton Conservation District.              Also recently, I stopped by the Horse Heaven Hills in south-
     “Nicole has emerged not just as a top conservationist but as      central Washington and found sporulating rust pustules in
 a conservation leader,” said acting NRCS State Conservationist        several wheat fields. I found them in some fields where plants
 Dave Brown. “She is a tireless advocate for conservation and          were still small (five to seven leaves without dead leaves) and
 gives unselfishly of her time, her energy and her spirit. Nicole      where stripe rust was not found last November. Rust severity
 is a remarkable conservation steward who leads by example             was up to 5 percent of incidence. The rust survived the rela-
 and whose roots of devotion run deep within the soil of the           tively mild winter. It was aided by the widespread snow cover
 land she loves,” he said.                                             during the beginning of December’s cold spell.
                                                                           Rust will develop fast when weather gets warm (night
                                                                       temperatures into the 40s F and day temperatures into the 50s
 Stripe rust                                                           F). Considering widespread infection before the winter, early
                                                                       application of fungicides will be better for fields planted with

 starts developing                                                     susceptible and moderate susceptible cultivars. Check your
                                                                       fields when your area reaches the above mentioned tem-

 in the Pacific Northwest                                              perature range. If you see stripe rust, consider spaying with a
                                                                       fungicide even before your herbicide applications. If no rust
 By Xianming Chen, WSU Plant Pathology Department                      is found, but the planted cultivar is susceptible or moderately
                                                                       susceptible based on last year’s reaction, the field should be
    Wheat stripe rust woke up much earlier this year in the            sprayed with fungicide when you spray herbicide. Please con-
 Pacific Northwest, and it may not have slept at all in west-          sider using the full rate of fungicide at the time of herbicide
 ern Oregon and western Washington. Don Wysocki and Jim                applications, as the rust has already started early, and this rust
 Towne found sporulating rust pustules in a wheat field near           season will likely be very long.
 Pendleton in northeastern Oregon on Feb. 1. Recently, Mike
 Flowers and Chris Mundt reported that stripe rust was eas-


 Changes in value added                                                Wisconsin. Members include producers, institutional buyers,
                                                                       food processors and those from the private transportation

 grant program for farmers
                                                                          USDA Rural Cooperatives Magazine profiled another VAPG
    Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced           award recipient in 2010. In Reardan, Wash., Columbia Plateau
 changes to the Value Added Producer Grant Program that will           Producers, LLC, which is owned by 21 wheat-producing fami-
 provide additional opportunities for beginning and socially           lies in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, was awarded a working
 disadvantaged farmers. The changes, outlined in an interim            capital grant to expand the marketing capacity of the organi-
 rule published in the Federal Register, will also assist indepen-     zation. All farmers in the cooperative are committed to no-till
 dent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives and agricul-          farming which saves fuel, prevents soil erosion and limits water
 tural producer groups. It will also support local and regional        runoff. The wheat produced is milled into high-quality flour,
 supply networks.                                                      marketed to bakeries, food manufacturers and flour marketers
                                                                       in the Pacific Northwest under the “Shepherd’s Grain” brand.
    “Improvements to this popular program will create addi-
 tional economic and job opportunities by helping owners of               Value-Added Producer Grants may be used for feasibil-
 small- and medium-sized family farms sell their products in lo-       ity studies or business plans, working capital for marketing
 cal and regional markets, part of our drive to ‘win the future,’”     value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renew-
 Merrigan said. “USDA investments such as these are part of the        able energy projects. Eligible applicants include independent
 Obama administration’s work to support farmers, ranchers and          producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, and agricultural
 rural businesses.”                                                    producer groups. Value-added products are created when a
                                                                       producer increases the consumer value of an agricultural com-
   The regulations address program changes included in the
                                                                       modity in the production or processing stage.
 2008 Farm Bill. These revisions:
                                                                          Through its Rural Development mission area, USDA admin-
     •      Provide up to 10 percent funding to beginner farmers
                                                                       isters and manages more than 40 housing, business and com-
            and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers;
                                                                       munity infrastructure and facility programs. These programs
     •      Provide up to 10 percent funding to local and/or region-   are designed to improve the economic stability of rural com-
            al supply networks that link producers with companies      munities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers. They are
            marketing their products;                                  also designed to improve the quality of life in rural America.
     •      Give priority for grants to beginner farmers, socially     Rural Development has an existing portfolio of nearly $146 bil-
            disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, and operators of       lion in loans and loan guarantees.
            small and medium-sized family farms;
     •      Extend grant eligibility to producers who market their
            products within their state or within a 400-mile radius.
    These changes take effect on March 25, 2011. In addition
                                                                       New USDA mapping tool
 to the rule changes, USDA Rural Development is soliciting
 comments on the interim rule and the best way to facilitate
                                                                       shows your backyard
 the participation of tribal entities and tribal governments in           The USDA unveiled an online mapping tool that captures a
 the Value Added Producer Grant program. For information on            broad range of demographic, economic and agricultural data
 how to submit comments, see page 10,090 of the Feb. 23, 2011,         on rural areas across the United States. The Atlas of Rural and
 Federal Register.                                                     Small-Town America, developed by USDA’s Economic Research
                                                                       Service, provides county-level mapping of over 60 statistical
   USDA Rural Development anticipates a Notice of Funding              indicators depicting conditions and trends across different
 Availability (NOFA) for Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG)            types of non-metro regions.
 will also be published soon. To learn more about the VAPG
 program and how it benefits producers, go to www.youtube.                “The new Atlas will complement USDA’s efforts in promot-
 com/watch?v=TF2ac0o2mjI.                                              ing rural development and well-being by helping policy
                                                                       makers pinpoint the needs of particular regions, recognize
   In 2010, USDA Rural Development awarded Producers &                 their diversity and build on their assets,” said U.S. Secretary
 Buyers Co-op in Altoona, Wis., a value-added working capital          of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack. “The Atlas is part of a broad USDA
 grant to build a value-added food chain infrastructure, expand        initiative to make relevant data easily accessible to the public,
 capacity for locally produced agricultural products and help          including researchers, journalists, public officials and other
 develop markets. The Co-op links local, sustainable farms             professionals.”
 with institutional buyers in a 12-county area of west central


    Nearly 50 million people—17 percent of the U.S. popula-          for example, could compare population trends in their area
 tion—live in nonmetropolitan (nonmetro) America, covering           with counties or states in the Midwest. Maps can be filtered
 approximately 2,000 counties. Economic and social challenges        to show only counties of a certain type, such as those with
 facing rural areas and small towns differ greatly from those af-    high levels of manufacturing or with persistent poverty. For
 fecting larger U.S. cities. They also vary substantially from one   example, this option could be used to show high unemploy-
 non-metro county to the next.                                       ment in manufacturing-dependent counties.
    The Atlas allows users to geographically compare selected           This web-based product assembles the latest county-level
 states or regions using data on population, age structure, race     statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor
 and ethnicity, income, employment, agricultural well-being          Statistics, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, USDA and other
 and other measures. Regional planners in the rural Southwest,       federal sources.

                Time to take action
         With a WAWG membership, you get a tool as important as fertilizer: a vote.
                                                Become a member!

Voting Membership                                                Non-voting Membership
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                                                     attached sheet. Return this form with your check to: WAWG Membership • 109
                                                     East First Ave. • Ritzville, WA 99169. Or call 800-598-6890 and use your credit card
                                                     to enroll by phone.

        dl e
    h an car                                                                     What happens after you deliver
                                                                                 your grain, and how it gets to

                                                                                 your customers

                                                                                 By Kara Rowe

   As a farmer, you partner with your local elevator to         ers before it gets to your customer: you (the farmer), your
move your grain to your customer. Because your top cus-         local elevator, a truck/barge/rail carrier, the exporter, and
tomers are across the ocean, a lot of different hands play a    the overseas vessel.
role in getting your grain safely on its way. Transportation       When farmers deliver their wheat to their country eleva-
and export partners work to keep the system running in an       tor that is just the beginning of a long journey. Rail, barge
efficient fashion. When you see grain trains running on the     and truck are the three main transportation modes utilized
railroads, grain trucks rolling on the highways or barges       by local grain elevators. These options keep the system
moving up and down the Columbia and Snake rivers you            running as efficiently as possible. Choices and options are
are seeing a united effort of partners and competitors          key.
working for a common goal: to keep the system of trade
                                                                   “The only reason you choose one mode of transporta-
                                                                tion over another is usually because
  In this series of articles you will meet some of our grain    of the freight rate,” said Kevin
systems’ players and get an inside look at the logistics        Whitehall, the general man-
behind their operations. From your farm to the ocean, your      ager for Central Washington
grain is handled and transported by at least five major play-   Grain Growers (CWGG).
                                                                                                                       FEATURE      WL
The co-op services about 1,600 members through 20 sta-              •   CWGG has the ability to load specific single-car
tions in five counties throughout north central Washington,             shipments which are then reloaded into containers
and it is headquartered in Waterville. CWGG utilizes                    at the export ports in Seattle or Tacoma. CWGG also
the short line railway operated by Eastern Washington                   has the ability to directly load containers at their sta-
Gateway (EWG) as well as unit train loading facilities at               tion in Mansfield.
Krupp, Wenatchee and Brewster. The short line is a state-           A few years ago, Whitehall and other shippers worked
owned railroad that runs along Highway 2 from Coulee             with legislators and lobbyists to save the short line from be-
City to Cheney. There it meets up with the main line that        ing sold for salvage. After months of negotiations the short
goes to the west coast ports. The main line is owned by          line operator, Watco Companies, Inc., sold the 108-mile
Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF). CWGG is             line to the state in 2007. Shipping by rail keeps hundreds
able to utilize a variety of railroad options:                   of grain trucks off area highways, which by itself is a huge
  •   CWGG can put together small cooperative loads (co-         safety and road maintenance issue. Whitehall believes the
      loads) of 26 cars, sell the wheat directly to the export   state purchase has saved area growers thousands of dollars
      facilities on the PNW coast and get it there via the       in reduced freight rates. During negotiations it was esti-
      BNSF line.                                                 mated that growers would pay 5 or 6 cents per bushel more
  •   CWGG can put together larger “scoot” trains of             to get their wheat to market without the railroad. Today,
      60 cars and sell the grain to Ritzville Warehouse          Whitehall said that cost would be considerably higher.
      Company (RWC). RWC is a 110-car shuttle facility on           But CWGG is not bound to the rail. They also have part
      the BNSF line that buys grain and sells it to the ex-      ownership in Tri-Cities Grain, which is a barge loading
      porters. RWC then ships the grain on the main line         terminal on the Snake River near Pasco. This allows them
      via 110-car shuttle trains. (Read more about RWC on        to truck grain to the river and utilize barges bound for the
      page 28)                                                   export facilities.
  •   CWGG works with other grain companies along the              “Having shipping options is the key to utilizing the
      short line to put together their own 110-car co-load       system efficiently for us,” said Whitehall. “Those options
      trains. They sell directly to the exporters and use the    can and do change.”
      BNSF line. These trains can be loaded at different           CWGG isn’t the only one who keeps all options on
      origins, but they all must have the same destination.      the table. The Pacific Northwest Farmers Co-op, based in
                                                                 Genessee, Idaho, lies within 30 miles of three barge ship-
                                                                 ping ports on the Columbia-Snake River System. They have
                                                                        facilities in 17 locations throughout the Palouse. The
                                                                            co-op utilizes multiple barge, rail and state-
                                                                             of-the art processing terminals. They own a
                                                                                       facility at the Port of Almota (Snake
                                                                                             River Terminal). They are also in

                                                      What is a short line?
                                                         A short line railroad is a small- or mid-sized railroad company that
                                                      operates over a short distance relative to larger, national railroad net-
                                                      works. In the U.S., railroads are categorized by operating revenue. Most
                                                      short line railroads fall into the Class III or Class II categorization de-
                                                      fined by the Surface Transportation Board. The larger, Class I railroad is
                                                      classified as “having annual carrier operating revenues of $250 million
                                                      or more” after adjusting for inflation.
                                                         Short line crews and power are used until the train hits the main
                                                      line. At that point, crews and power are switched to the main line op-
                                                      erators. In Eastern Washington’s case, the main line crews and power
                                                      are BNSF responsibilities.

                                                WASHINGTON’S RAIL SYSTEM

                                                                                              WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION MAP

 partnership with terminals in Central           Like other large grain companies,            Once delivered to the river termi-
 Ferry and Lewiston. This co-op finds            Pacific Northwest Farmers Co-op           nals, a barge can be loaded within
 success in diversification both with            utilizes its country elevators to feed    half a day. The big difference between
 transportation and markets.                     into the system. “When harvest begins     the barges and a Class I railroad,
     •      They truck commodities to river      we like to be more than 50 percent        like the BNSF line, is flexibility. “The
            terminals for barge transporta-      empty. Depending on what and when         rules for the barges are strict, but not
            tion to the exporters.               our farmers sell, we fill up and empty    as tight as those who deal with the
                                                 some of our smaller elevators two or      BNSF. Demurrage charges are rarely
     •      The co-op utilizes short-line
                                                 three times during harvest,” White        used,” he said. A demurrage charge
            railroads to connect to the BNSF
                                                 said.                                     occurs when a facility has gone over
            main line and ship directly to
                                                   The Pacific Northwest Farmers           the agreed upon time period to load
            the exporters.
                                                 Co-op deals with the same logistical      a railcar or barge. The railcars and
     •      They utilize truck & rail servic-                                              barges do not belong to the grain
                                                 patterns as others. They try to empty
            es and sell grain to other co-ops                                              facility, therefore they must be loaded
                                                 their country elevators when weather
            and grain companies.                                                           in a timely fashion. If they are not
                                                 co-operates, roads are clear and truck-
     •      They also have the ability to        ing is viable. “We work with three or     timely, they are charged a demur-
            load specific closed containers      four different trucking outfits to get    rage fee. There are two barge com-
            for shipment on rail to ports in     grain moved in a timely manner. We        panies who handle grain along the
            the Seattle/Tacoma area.             definitely pay attention to road main-    Columbia-Snake River System. They
    “We work to keep costs for our               tenance schedules and have a priority     are Tidewater and Shaver. Barges can
 farmers to a minimum,” said Sam                 on which elevators get emptied first,”    hold between 80,000 to 135,000 bushels
 White, merchandiser for the co-op.              White said.                               of wheat.

                                                                                                                                            FEATURE    WL

Sam White of the Pacific Northwest Farmers Co-op says utilizing efficient logistics and various options   An example of a bin logistics chart used by PNW
keeps the co-op moving in a positive direction for its farmers.                                           Farmers Coop. This is how they keep track of
                                                                                                          specific wheat classes and various pulse crops.

   Being based in Palouse country, the co-op also han-
dles various pulse crops such as peas, lentils and chick-
peas for domestic and export use. “There’s been a high
demand domestically for humus, so the chickpea market
is doing well right now,” White said.
   The company also has its own processing facility that
can handle specialized commodities. The specialized
crops work not only for wheat farmers as rotations, but
can also lead to new wheat markets for the co-op. “We
built a relationship with a Jewish community back east
who wanted Kosher certified peas and lentils,” White
said. “That relationship flowed into wheat, and now we
are supplying them with wheat for their matzah (which
is used for matzah bread).”
   Like CWGG, they also supply specific containers
of wheat to smaller markets overseas. “Some of these
niche markets don’t mind paying the extra freight to buy
containers that meet their very specific quality needs,”
he said.
   When it comes down to moving wheat from our
country elevators, one thing is very clear. The more
options available, the better off the farmer. Both Pacific
Northwest Farmers Co-op and CWGG work to provide
the best alternatives possible to their farmers. White said
it quite well.
  “Our company will be healthy if our farmers are

                                                                                                                                WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011       27
     Riding the rails of balance
     Riding the rails of balance
         A look at the logistics of the Ritzville Warehouse Company

         By Kara Rowe

    “We’re kind of like the second middle man,” explained             competitively,” he said.
 John Anderson, CEO of Ritzville Warehouse Company                         To understand why this facility was such a beneficial
 (RWC). Anderson’s operation is the only 110-shuttle facility           addition, we have to understand a little bit about the rail
 in Eastern Washington that mainly handles wheat. There                                                    system. In Washington, farm-
 is another 110-car facility in                                                                            ers are a captive shipper. This
 Plymouth, Wash., across the                                                                               means farmers only have one
 Columbia River from Umatilla,                                                                             rail carrier that can get our
 Ore., that has historically been                                                                          grain all the way to a port.
 operated as a corn facility.                                                                              That rail carrier is BNSF. Union
 The RWC facility sits along                                                                               Pacific Railway runs the same
 the Burlington Northern                                                                                   service in Oregon. While there
 Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) line                                                                              are numerous small rail lines,
 just outside Ritzville. The                                                                               such as the state-owned short
 BNSF line runs directly to the                                                                            line that runs along Highway
 Washington and Oregon ports.                                                                              2, if you want to get to an
    Anderson said the RWC’s                                                                                export facility via rail you must
 goal when they decided to                                                                                 eventually merge with a BNSF-
 build the facility 10 years ago                                                                           owned line. A 110-shuttle train
 was simple. They built it to                                                                              is BNSF’s most cost effective
 offer farmers and other grain                                                                             collection of rail cars, and they
 companies another option                                                                                  offer the best rates for a shuttle.
 in transportation. “We have                                                                               While most of our country
 added another component           Stacey Hunt is the chief grain merchandiser for the Ritzville Warehouse elevators can put together
                                                                                                                                        FEATURE    WL

                                                                                                            The BNSF rail
                                                                                                            line        is a Class I railroad,
                                                                                                            and with that comes tighter
                                                                                                            restrictions and rules than short-
                                                                                                            line railroads. Currently there
                                                                                                            are four primary Class I railroads
                                                                                                            in the U.S. The BNSF and Union
                                                                                                            Pacific are the main carriers on the
                                                                                                            west coast, but there are also the
                                                                                                            CSX Transportation and Norfolk
                                                                                                            Southern Combined Railroad that
                                                                                                            service the east coast.

                                                                                     BRUCE KELLEY PHOTO

Ritzville Warehouse Company’s 110-shuttle facility sits along the BNSF main line outside Ritzville.

small co-loads of 20 to 50 rail cars at a             segregates the different wheat classes              Hunt. Regardless, the facility gets the
time, getting a load of 100 or more is                and qualities, and reloads the grain                best rate for its customers if it can get
extremely difficult. At RWC, they take                into the BNSF-owned shuttle cars.                   the shuttle loaded in 10 hours, so that’s
the grain from these smaller co-loads                 “When the BNSF cars arrive we have                  what they strive for.
and build a 110-shuttle.                              10 hours to get them loaded, no matter                 “We buy a lot of meals for our
   In addition to buying grain from                   what time of day, or night, they ar-                crew,” Anderson said. “The people
local farmers directly, RWC also                      rive.” This is one of the major logistical          loading the shuttles make a big sacri-
purchases grain from other grain                      challenges of a shuttle facility.                   fice.” That sacrifice can include nights,
companies. “About 50 percent of our                      “We are so glad we can get cars                  weekends and holidays. Whenever the
grain comes from other grain compa-                   when we need them, however, we                      shuttle arrives, it is loaded. Anderson
nies,” said Anderson. “If our rates are               have no control over when the BNSF                  added that he’s got basically the same
competitive with the barges, they may                 cars ultimately arrive,” explained                  crew he started with since the shuttle
choose to go through us rather than                   Anderson. “We order them for a                      facility opened. He works to rotate
trucking or railing it to the river.”                 certain time, but weather or crew                   and be flexible with their time off.
   In a nutshell, RWC’s shuttle facility              changes can modify the shuttle’s ar-                The low turnover rate on employees is
acts much like a barge facility along                 rival without notice. If we get notice              worth the effort to accommodate the
the river. Keeping the logistics effi-                that the shuttle will be here at 7 a.m.,            crew.
cient is the key to running smoothly.                 we have our crew here at 6 a.m. ready                  One shuttle train can hold about
Interestingly, when they receive a                    to go. Sometimes, however, the shuttle              400,000 bushels of wheat. RWC’s
co-load they don’t automatically con-                 doesn’t arrive until hours later, and               shuttle facility can hold just under
nect all the cars and send them west.                 our guys are still ready to go. We do               two shuttles worth of grain. There are
Stacey Hunt, as chief grain merchan-                  our best to predict, but so much is out             times when they load 1.6 million bush-
diser, works in tandem with Brian                     of our control,” he said.                           els of wheat in less than two weeks.
Gordon, grain merchandising man-                         The nightmare begins when mul-                   RWC also owns 20 country elevators
ager. “First of all, the cars from the                tiple shuttles are arriving at similar              that feed into the main facility. “Road
co-loads aren’t owned by BNSF,” Hunt                  time frames. “Let’s say you have three              restrictions are another thing we have
said. “They’re owned by the short line                shuttles ordered in a five-day period.              to keep our eye on,” said Anderson.
operator or state, and they have to be                The first one is late. The second one               Like other large grain companies,
returned in a timely manner.”                         is on time. And the third one is early.             RWC works logistically to empty its
  Hunt went on to explain that the                    A perfect plan can be turned upside                 country elevators when the weather
shuttle facility unloads the co-loads,                down by a shuttle being late,” said                 and road conditions cooperate.

                                                                                                                              WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011   29

    Because it has its own country
 elevators, and 50 percent of its supply
 comes from other grain companies,
 RWC has a balancing act it must
 maintain. “We are not predatory,” said
 Anderson. “Other grain companies
 are some of our biggest customers and
 we do our best to keep them happy.”
 RWC receives wheat from more than
 100 miles away, with customers as far
 away as Rockford and Bonner’s Ferry,
 Idaho. In order for RWC to continue
 being successful, they must continue
 balancing rates, employees, customers
 and logistics. A true story of riding the

 Over the
 How the Columbia-Snake River System
 works for the good of all

 By Kara Rowe

                                                                                               COLUMBIA RIVER CHANNEL COALITION PHOTO

   So as a farmer who pays the final bill, you have three       40,000 local jobs depend on the trade that happens because
 choices in Washington state for how your grain is trans-       of the waterway.
 ported. You can pay for your grain to be hauled to the ports     Recently, the lower Columbia River navigation channel
 by truck, rail or barge. In many cases it’s a combination of   was deepened from 40 feet to 43 feet. Though it may not
 two.                                                           seem like a huge amount, those three extra feet allow a ves-
     No matter which way you and your                                              sel to be loaded heavier. The extra 6,000
 grain company choose, most of the grain                                           tons of wheat that can now be loaded on
 sold in our state enters the Columbia-                                            a vessel are worth an extra $1 million.
 Snake River System at some point. By                                                 Kristin Meira is PNWA’s govern-
 barge it may enter the system as high                                             ment relations director. “It’s great to go
 up as Lewiston. By truck or rail it may                                           back to Washington, D.C., and tell our
 enter closer to the mouth as far west                                             Northwest Congressional Delegation
 as Longview. Most years, 90 percent of                                            about all the economic benefits already
 Washington’s wheat crop is exported                                               occurring from the channel deepen-
 out of the PNW port system. In fact, the                                          ing,” she said. PNWA worked with
 Columbia-Snake River System is the top                                            U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and
 U.S. wheat and barley export gateway.                                             others to secure the final $26.6 million in
 It is also the third largest grain export                                         stimulus package funding to complete
 gateway in the world. A vital gateway                                             the project in 2010.
 like this needs a large voice when it
                                                                                        “We now get to showcase how impor-
 comes to fighting for funding and other
                                                                                      tant the transportation savings are in
 policy measures. That voice is the Pacific
                                                                                      getting commodities to market. Because
 Northwest Waterways Association (PNWA).
                                                                we have deepened the channel, an enormous amount of
   According to the PNWA, the deep draft portion of the         investment is now taking place. The new facility being built
 Columbia River supports over 40 million tons of cargo each     at Longview is a great example. It’s the first new export
 year, which is valued at more than $17 billion. More than      facility built in the U.S. in almost 30 years, and it’s happen-

                                                                                                                  PORT OF PORTLAND DOCUMENT

ing here in the PNW. That facility wouldn’t be here if the           dredging will continue annually to keep the river channel
deepening hadn’t taken place,” Meira said. She added that            open for business.
improvements and investments on other facilities are also                  This wasn’t the first battle the PNWA has fought.
taking place. “It’s gratifying to tell the folks in D.C. that the       “Our group has been an advocate for navigation on the
predicted benefits are not only happening, but are hap-                 Columbia River system for more than 70 years,” explained
pening more than expected.” Now regular maintenance                     Meira. Established in 1934 as Inland Empire Waterways

  Lock time frame
                                                                                                                             the group led
                                                                                                                             the way for
  revision                                                                                                                   authorization
                                                                                                                             and fund-
     The Walla Walla District of the Corps of                                                                                ing to build
  Engineers announced that the Columbia-                                                                                     the locks and
  Snake River System will return to service                                                                                  dams on the
  for river traffic when the Dalles Navigation                                                                               Columbia and
  lock re-opens March 23. Initial inquiries                                                                                  Snake rivers.
  indicate that no river traffic has been                                                                                    In 1971 they
  scheduled before March 17. Therefore, the                                                                                  expanded,
  District is modifying its lock re-opening                                                                       PNWA PHOTO adding
  from March 13 to March 15 for Ice Harbor,                                                                                  Puget Sound
                                                      This dredge, called Yaquina, is one of two federal dredges that per-
  Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower                                                                                   and coastal
                                                      form the bulk of the maintenance dredging on the Lower Columbia
  Granite Locks. McNary Lock will re-open             River and at the mouth.                                                members to
  March 17.                                                                                                                  provide a

                                                                                                                  WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011      33

 comprehensive regional perspective. They now represent           matter what side you are on, infrastructure is how we can
 over 100 members in the public and private sectors in            build our economy. There is general recognition on Capitol
 Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska and California. They           Hill of what the Corps does to maintain the infrastructure
 work closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as the       that is key to our economy. At PNWA we are not stopping
 Corps manages many projects along the waterway.                  what we have
    PNWA played a major role in securing stimulus funding         always done; we
 for the current lock upgrades on The Dalles, John Day and        will continue
 Lower Monumental dams. Once those projects are complet-          communications.
 ed, PNWA has other priorities it would like to see continue      Funding will be
 moving forward. “Our next top goal that will benefit the         provided, but in
 entire system are the planned repairs on the jetties at the      different ways.
 Mouth of the Columbia,” Meira said.                              The U.S. needs
                                                                  to make targeted
    The entrance to the Mouth of the Columbia is protected
                                                                  investments to
 by three rubble-mound jetties. The north jetty (2.5 miles
                                                                  keep things mov-
 long) is on the Washington side, the south jetty (6.6 miles
                                                                  ing in a positive
 long) is on the Oregon side and “Jetty A” (.5 mile long) is
 just inland of the mouth on the Washington side. According
 to PNWA, abnormally intense and frequent storms have
 accelerated the decline of the jetties. Additionally, the
 sand spits the jetties are built on have been receding. “The
 Corps received funding through earmarks to make interim
 repairs on the jetties, which were completed in 2007,” Meira
 said. “That bought us some time, but the jetties will contin-
 ue to degrade without targeted investment.” Portions of the
 north and south jetties are in critical need of more repair,
 and Meira fears they could breach during a large storm. A
 breach could push sand into the navigation channel, and
 that could essentially shut down commercial export trade.
 A breach would cause costly emergency repairs and dredg-
 ing to be done to restore the channel’s depth.
    The Corps is looking at a series of major repairs that will
 take approximately seven years and $250 million to com-
 plete. “If all goes well gaining funding, we expect them to
 start in 2013,” Meira said. Currently the Corps is complet-
 ing a detailed study on the jetty repair plan, and PNWA is
 working at locking down funding. PNWA is also working
 on future projects such as a sediment management plan,
 other lock repairs and simplifying the permitting process.
 “We have a significant number of endangered species in
 the PNW. It takes a long time to get permits approved or
 denied for any project on the river. We want to make sure
 it doesn’t take a year to get a permit, but rather a couple of
 months. This will ensure that our ports stay competitive
 with others.”
    In today’s political climate, PNWA has a new set of chal-
 lenges to overcome, including learning how to work in a
 new no-earmark system. “Things are definitely in a state of
 flux on Capitol Hill,” Meira said. “We will face at least two
 years of no earmarks. This whole topic is making people
 in D.C. define what an earmark actually is and figure out
 how we properly fund infrastructure without them. No

Behind the scenes of an export grain terminal

                                                    Randy Cartmill of Columbia Grain International explains the logistics of their export facility to a group of Washington farmers and landlords. This facil-
                                                    ity operates out of the Port of Portland, and they export grains, pulses and oilseeds. This is a view from inside the “brains” of the facility. Computers
                                                    track each bin and the ship-loading process.

                                                                                                                        The exporters
                                                                                                                          Living in the Pacific Northwest, we have the nation’s top
                                                                                                                        wheat export gateway in our backyard. The logistics behind the
                                                                                                                        export facilities are much like that of our country elevators, but
                                                                                                                        multiplied by about a thousand.
                                                                                                                           Before a ship is loaded, the exporter pre-loads the purchased
                                                                                                                        grain into “shipping bins”. If a problem is found with the quality
                                                                                                                        specifications of the load, it is fixed before a kernel of grain is
                                                                                                                        loaded onto the ship.
                                                                                                                           The Federal Grain Inspection Service of the USDA has a lab
                                                                                                                        at the export facilities. Continuous samples of the load are
                                                                                                                        extracted and sent to the lab throughout the loading process.
                                                                                                                        This ensures that the quality specifications of the customer are
                                                                                                                           When Japan purchases wheat from the U.S., a second inspec-
                                                                                                                        tion is performed by an independent lab, called the Overseas
                                                       The Federal Grain Inspection Service keeps samples               Merchandise Inspection Company, LTD. OMIC is contracted by
                                                       of individual wheat varieties on hand for visual iden-           Japan’s government to conduct an additional review. Japan is
                                                       tification checks. In addition, samples of grain loaded          consistently the number one buyer of soft white wheat.
                                                       on a ship are kept for 90 days in case of disputes over
                                                       customer specifications.

                   36                           WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
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                                                                      WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011   37
Into the sea

       Columbia river bar pilots risk it all
       to get grain on its way through the
       Graveyard of the Pacific

       By Kara Rowe

                                                                                                                                          FEATURE    WL
   Once your grain reaches the export facility, it is loaded                  have been lost in and around the Columbia Bar.
on a ship and then travels downstream to the Mouth of the                        “Generally the storms come through in the winter and
Columbia. Once there, it faces its most dangerous chal-                       create ocean swells that hit the outflow of the water from
lenge. The Columbia Bar is known as the most dangerous                        the Columbia,” said Lewin. “This is a significant amount
piece of waterway that is kept open for trade during bad                      of water traveling at significant speeds. The collision of
weather. “Most other places shut down when weather                            these forces makes it treacherous.” Lewin said that the
gets like this,” explained Gary Lewin, a member of the                        worst time of year is from November to April. “Generally
Columbia River Bar Pilots. But if the Columbia River                          we face 20’ waves (two stories high). It’s literally a wall of
system shut down every                                                                                            water that travels at 24
time bad weather set in,                                                                                          miles per hour with lots
trade would come to a                                                                                             of energy. As the waves
halt too many days of the                                                                                         steepen when they hit
year. That means billions                                                                                         the bar, they can double
of dollars in state and                                                                                           in height and lose their
national income would                                                                                             back. The other side is
be wiped out. And that’s                                                                                          like a cliff.” Even when
something our region                                                                                              the waters settle a bit in
will not allow.                                                                                                   the spring and summer
   To understand the                                                                                              months, the bar pilots
enormity of this pro-                                                                                             then have a different
cess, you must first                                                                                              challenge...fishermen.
understand the bar. The                                                                                           Hundreds of fishing
Columbia Bar is a system                                                                                          vessels line the entrance
of bars and shoals at the                                                                                         and exit of the mouth
Mouth of the Columbia                                                                                             of the river making it a
River. The bar channel is                                                                                         hazardous trek.
                                                                                         COLUMBIA RIVER BAR PILOTS PHOTO
about 2,600 feet wide and                                                                                                   Most sea captains
                               Fishing boats fill the area around the mouth of the Columbia River as you can see on
six miles long. The bar is this radar image. The long lines on the right side of the blue screen show where the          are not skilled enough
where the river's cur-         jetties along the mouth sit. Fishing boats can be a major hazard to navigating the bar,   to cross the bar alone,
rent dissipates into the       as are storms and sea swells.
                                                                                                                         thus the birth of the
Pacific Ocean, often as                                                                                                  Columbia River Bar
large standing waves. Conditions can change from calm to                      Pilots. It was established by the state of Oregon in 1846
life-threatening in as little as five minutes due to changes                  and is one of the state’s oldest continuous businesses. It is
in direction of wind and ocean swells. Since 1792, approxi-                   controlled by the Oregon Board of Maritime Pilots under
mately 2,000 large ships have sunk and almost 700 lives                       the auspices of the Public Utilities Commission.

                                            COLUMBIA RIVER BAR PILOTS PHOTO                        NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION PHOTO

A grain vessel maneuvers through the bar.                                     A pilot ship heads out to sea.

                                                                                                                              WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011    39

                                                                                                      and he ended up in the water. There
                                                                                                      was so much current that crews
                                                                                                      found him three days later, 60 miles
                                                                                                      up the coast. He gave everything for
                                                                                                      the success of the region.
                                                                                                         Other than good pay, Lewin
                                                                                                      said there’s a sense of responsibil-
                                                                                                      ity that gets a pilot out of bed each
                                                                                                      day to face the challenge. “It takes
                                                                                                      a different type of personality to
                                                                                                      do this job. You work with lots of
                                                                                                      A-type personalities!” he said with
                                                                                                      a laugh. “One reason we do it is the
                                                                                                      importance of safety. There’s pres-
                                                                                                      sure from the system on keeping
                                                                                                      trade moving. Everything is expen-
                                                                                                      sive. It’s very expensive if you have
                                                                                                      to shut the river down. Sometimes
                                                                                                      you have to tell people ‘no I’m not
                                                                                                      doing it because the weather is too
                                                                    COLUMBIA RIVER BAR PILOTS PHOTO
                                                                                                      bad,’ and you shut down the system.
 The Columbia River Bar Pilots have three transportation crafts including the pilot helicopter,       That A-type personality is needed in
 SEAHAWK, and two state-of-the-art, 30-knot pilot boats, the CHINOOK and COLUMBIA. The CHINOOK        those situations.”
 is pictured above.
                                                                                                         With most of the cargo going out
                                                                                                      of the region being export grain, the
 The purpose of the program is to                  young and under-qualified. In fact,
                                                                                                      bar pilots know the PNW farmers
 ensure the safety of the ships and                a person must go through a rigor-
                                                                                                      are counting on them. Getting grain
 crews across the bar.                             ous process to become a bar pilot.
                                                                                                      safely in and out of the Graveyard of
     As each vessel approaches the bar,            “All bar pilots have to qualify,” said
                                                                                                      the Pacific has more behind it than
 either coming or going, a Columbia                Lewin. ”They have to have been a
                                                                                                      money. It has guts.
 River Bar Pilot boards the ship by                captain aboard a large cargo ship
 boat or helicopter. When coming in                and been vetted by the industry.”
 from the ocean, they board about 12               On average, it takes 15 years just to
 miles off shore, depending on the                 become a captain with another two
 type of ship and traffic. The pilot               years as captain to be vetted. “It
 then guides the vessel and its crew               gives a potential pilot enough time to
 across the bar. Because English is the            have handled a ship in bad weather.”
 official International Maritime lan-              The average age of a new pilot is 42.
 guage, the pilots can communicate                 “Once you become master of a ship,
 simple instructions. “The vocabulary              that’s as far as you can go. The next
 is limited. Only about 100 words are              step is either piloting or becoming
 required for the crews to know, but               an executive in an office.” There are
 it’s enough to steer the vessel,” said            about 1,200 pilots throughout differ-
 Lewin. If the weather and waters are              ent ports in the U.S.
 too dangerous, the pilots have the                    For the bar pilots on he Columbia,
 power to shut the river down until a              it’s a dangerous and life-threatening
 safer passage can be made.                        job each trip. The last time they lost a
    Most of his 14 colleagues are in               pilot was in 2006. It was January, and
 their fifties or sixties, and Lewin is            the pilot was disembarking after suc-
 in his sixties. He has been a bar pilot           cessfully getting the ship across the
 since 1983. This is not a job for the             bar. The transfer was not successful,

         visit us at
  more interactive ag news

                             WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011   41
 Safety Matters
                A discussion with Washington’s Labor & Industries
                Department, Division of Occupational Safety and
                Health (DOSH), and how the state’s worker safety
                laws affect you as a farmer
                By Kara Rowe

     There are 39 different types of agriculture in the state        pathogens and heat stress. These are considered long-term
 of Washington. It is home to wheat and apple farming,               exposures. The safety division investigates more of the
 as well as grape and oyster farming. The state’s Labor &            physically large challenges such as tractors, PTOs, rollovers
 Industries Department (L&I) is charged with the task to             and ladder hazards. The guidelines and rules are very strict
 set safety rules and guidelines for all farmers to follow.          in Washington state, even compared to our neighbors. If
 Over the years, there have been more and more regulations           you farm both sides of the state line, you’ll need to check on
 that have some farmers questioning what is applicable to            each state’s rulebook.
 their wheat farm. The set of standards applicable to farms             “Oregon and Idaho currently follow OSHA (federal)
 is overwhelming to read. While many of the regulations              standards” said David Puente, L&I’s DOSH statwide
 are written strictly around the tree fruit industry, there are      compliance manager. “Here in Washington we don’t have
 some basic rules that every farm, whether a corporation             identical standards, but our rules have to be as effective as
 or not, must adhere to. With three fatal farm accidents just        OSHA. Sometimes are standards are more stringent.”
 recently happening in Idaho, and the busy farm season just
                                                                        The point of their tight guidelines is simple—safety for
 around the corner, safety is at the top of many minds. And
                                                                     all employers and employees. “If you saw what we see,
 if it isn’t, it should be. Ignorance is no longer being tolerated
                                                                     you would have safety as a priority as well,” said Pedro
 as an excuse. Farmers need to be aware of the safety rules
                                                                     Serrano, L&I’s safety and health specialist. “To see the fa-
 that apply to them. L&I is making a concerted effort to
                                                                     talities and how the accidents happened is harsh. Combine
 educate farmers on what they need to know.
                                                                     rollovers, PTO shaft mistakes, it’s terrible. All it takes is one
    L&I’s farm safety team is separated into two discplines:         careless move, and families are never the same.”
 hygiene and safety. The hygiene division looks at things
                                                                       As for regulating safety on farms, L&I acknowledges
 like noise, hand washing, chemical exposures, bloodwork,

                                                                                                                         FEATURE       WL
that with their staff, the odds of visiting each farm in the
state are unrealistic. “There are more than 39,000 farms in      WAC 296-307-40027:       What emergency precau-
Washington,” said Serrano.                                       tions are required when handling anhydrous ammo-
  “We have about 120 field staff,” said Pam Edwards, L&I’s
industrial hygienist. “That’s one staffer to about 250,000
                                                                 ...(3) All storage systems must have on hand at least the following
                                                                       equipment for emergency and rescue purposes:
   “The likelihood of an employer being inspected without            (a) *One full-face gas mask with anhydrous ammonia refill
a formal complaint or reason is about once in 20 years,”                 canisters.
said Puente. Wheat farmers are not the primary focus of              (b) **One pair of protective gloves.
the department. “We’re not seeing a lot of injuries on wheat         (c) **One pair of protective boots.
farms.” The department is, however, working on making                (d) **One protective slicker and/or protective pants and
routine visits a priority.                                               jacket.
                                                                     (e) Easily accessible shower and/or at least 50 gallons of
   “Typically our staff show up to inspect a worksite                    clean water in an open top container.
because we received a safety/health complaint, hospi-                (f) Tight-fitting vented goggles or one full-face shield.
talization, an accident occurred, or the employer is on
our scheduling list. Our current scheduling inspection           * If ammonia vapors are detected when the mask is applied,
list is focused on recency of an inspection. Upon arrival,       then leave the area immediately. The life of a canister in service
our staff will obtain consent before we continue with the        is controlled by the percentage of vapors to which it is exposed.
inspection,” Puente said. “After consent is granted by the       Canisters must not be opened until ready for use and should be
employer/management, we will sit down for an opening             discarded after use or as recommended by the canister manufac-
                                                                 turer. Unopened canisters may be guaranteed for as long as three
conference. We’ll do a physical walk around, followed by a
                                                                 years, and all should be dated when received. In addition, an
closing conference. During the walkaround if we identify a
                                                                 independently supplied air mask of the type used by fire depart-
safety or health hazard we will provide abatement guid-
                                                                 ments may be used for emergencies.
ance. During the closing conference we will discuss the
type of safety and health hazards that were observed and         **Gloves, boots, slickers, jackets and pants must be made of rub-
determine a reasonable abatement date of the hazards with        ber or other material impervious to ammonia.
the employer. If any of the violations are serious in nature a
penalty will be assessed. If there are violations we will ex-    be aware of as well.” While wheat growers have had a very
plain what the farmer can expect and their appeal rights.”       small percentage of violations as a whole, each farm needs
   “Part of our inspection process is to conduct employee        to know the hazards applicable to them.
interviews. This provides us a better understanding of              For instance, family members working on the farm isn’t
what is actually taking place at these worksites,” explained     as cut and dry as one would think. Children on the farm
Puente. If there is a citation given, penalties can be costly.   have a protection act that farmers should be aware of. There
“If we find a hazard at the worksite, or are there because of    is also a misperception that family members are exempt
an accident, we will evaluate a lot of information such as       from any rules. “There is an exemption for some cases, but
employee interviews, observations, employer records and          you really have to make sure you understand the exemp-
etc. If an employer is making a good faith effort and we are     tion,” Serrano said.
unable to prove a violation we will not cite an employer,”
Puente said.                                                      “If you elect industrial insurance coverage for a family
                                                                 member, they are an employee no matter what, and you
   “We have to respond to all complaints and at times            must follow the guidelines set by the state,” said Puente.
we may find merit in the allegations, or we find that the
employer has already abated the hazards, or we do not find          There is also some confusion on what happens after a
anything. If we do not find merit in the complaint allega-       work comp claim is filed. If an employer feels the work
tions a citation will not be issued,” Puente said.               comp claim is not true or is being taken advantage of, it
                                                                 is up to the employer to make oversight a priority. “As an
                                                                 employer, you can call work comp and make allegations,”
SOME RULES YOU NEED TO KNOW                                      said Puente. “The work comp division can evaluate the
                                                                 investigation. The employer, however, has to stay on top
   As for which rules apply to wheat growers, it depends         of the claim. We have ‘return to work’ programs, and a lot
on the operation. “Chapter 296-307 applies to wheat grow-        of things to educate employers on what to do if a claim is
ers,” said Serrano. “But there are other rules they should       filed.”

                                                                                                              WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011    43

    L&I would also like farmers to be aware of some
 basic safety issues that are rising in recent years.
 “Respiratory protection is huge when spraying,”
 said Edwards. “This is one of the hardest subjects to
    Also, tractors have been at the forefront of head-
 lines and tragedies lately. “Tractors are the biggest
 problem right now,” said Serrano. “Most of our ac-
 cidents have been related to tractors. Rollover protec-
 tion needs to be looked at seriously on our farms.”
   Another topic of discussion is that many farmers
 hire seasonal or harvest help only for a few weeks in a
 year. “It doesn’t matter,” said Serrano. “As soon as you
 have an employee you must have these standards in
    With that said, L&I staff say they are not out to fine
 farmers on a whim. “If we go to a place and find noth-
 ing, that is a good day for us. Our goal is for work-
 ers to have a safe workplace. We are not looking for
 penalties,” said Edwards.
   “We understand people may not always welcome
 us, but we’re willing to help to educate and make
 things right,” said Puente. In fact, L&I offers a free
 consultation service to those willing to let them come
 out to the farm.
    “The caviat is that if we find something out of
 compliance, you must fix it within a reasonable time
 frame,” said Edwards.
   “We offer this service because a lot of farmers just
 don’t know where to start and what to look for,” said
 Puente. “When a farmer hires somebody, odds are
 that they’re doing the most reasonable thing in their
 mind. But when we go through the farm, we know
 what to look for and we have the expertise.”
   “We are technical,” said Serrano. “There are things
 that are very clear to us but not so much to farmers.
 Use us to help you succeed.”
    In reality, farmers are required to take another look
 at their safety practices on the farm. While there are
 far fewer accidents on a wheat farm versus an apple
 orchard historically, many will argue that one acci-
 dent is too many.

   For more information on Washington’s L&I
 Department and the state’s worker safety laws visit

 Working together on the wheat team
 Kim Garland Campbell and Camille Steber
                                                                      degree in Biology and her Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics and
 By Kevin Gaffney
                                                                      Cell Biology at the University of Chicago. She completed
    Kim Garland Campbell and Camille Steber complement                her work there in 1996.
 each other well, which is a big benefit to the wheat growers
 of the Pacific Northwest (PNW).                                         Her postdoctoral research was in the Department of
                                                                      Botany at the University of Toronto. She was recruited from
    Both are employed by the Agricultural Research Service,           there to the position at WSU after meeting Kay Simmons at
 the chief scientific research agency of the United States            a conference.
 Department of Agriculture (USDA-ARS). Both scientists
 hail from Illinois. Campbell grew up in Naperville, former-             Steber and Simmons quickly discovered they both had
 ly a rural farming area, now a suburb of Chicago. Steber             interests in the hormonal control of seed germination and
 grew up in Chicago proper.                                           pre-harvest sprouting. Steber soon headed to Pullman to
                                                                      join the USDA-ARS research team as a Research Molecular
    Steber began her ARS research work at WSU-Pullman                 Geneticist.
 in 1998. Campell followed in 1999, after being recruited by
 Kay Simmons. Simmons is currently the deputy adminis-                   “Our collaboration is similar to a pyramid,” explained
 trator for USDA-                                                                                               Campbell.
 ARS in Beltsville,                                                                                             “Camille’s work
 Maryland, but was                                                                                              provides the build-
 previously the re-                                                                                             ing blocks at the
 search leader of the                                                                                           base of the pyra-
 USDA-ARS Wheat                                                                                                 mid. My work is
 Genetics, Quality,                                                                                             combining her re-
 Physiology and                                                                                                 search, along with
 Disease Research                                                                                               that of many oth-
 Unit at Pullman.                                                                                               ers, and building
                                                                                                                the upper portion
    Campbell trav-                                                                                              so that we develop
 eled a bit further                                                                                             useful cultivars for
 on her journey to                                                                                              growers.”
 the Palouse. After
 earning her B.S. de-                                                                                                  Steber put it an-
 gree in Agronomy                                                                                                   other way. “I work
 at Colorado State                                                                                                  on the palette, Kim
 University, she                                                                                                    makes the paint-
 spent two years                                                                                                    ing.” Steber’s work
                        Kim Garland Campbell and Camille Steber work together at USDA-ARS to benefit wheat growers. focuses on seed
 serving with the
 Peace Corps in                                                                                                     dormancy and ger-
 Antigua, West Indies. Following that, she earned a Masters              mination issues, as well as plant drought stress responses.
 in Theology from the Lutheran Theological Seminary                         Steber has a National Science Foundation-funded project
 at Philadelphia in 1985. Deciding that her first love was               that uses the tiny weed Arabidopsis as a model system
 genetics and agriculture, Campbell then earned a Masters                to figure out how hormones control seed dormancy and
 degree and a Ph.D. in Crop Science from North Carolina                  germination. She then transfers these traits using mutation
 State University. Campbell joined the faculty at Ohio State             breeding in wheat. The goal is to create soft and hard white
 University as a wheat geneticist in the Department of                   varieties that are sprouting tolerant, but still emerge well.
 Horticulture and Crop Sciences. She later took her current                 At WSU, the collaboration between the USDA-ARS and
 position as a USDA-ARS Research Geneticist in Pullman.                  WSU scientists is a crucial part of their success in bring-
   “I do remember having to look up on a map to find                  ing laboratory research to growers’ fields. For example, in
 Pullman,” remarked Campbell. “I had never been to the                the WSU Plant Growth Facility, winter and spring crop
 PNW before.”                                                         teams may have separate floors in the greenhouse facility,
     Steber started closer to home, earning both her Bachelor’s       but they readily share research results with fellow team

                                                                                                                             FEATURE   WL

members.                                                                   tion seed development in about eight to 10 years from this
   They also work with private wheat breeding companies,                   research method, less for spring wheat.
other university programs and the International Maize and                     Campbell and Steber are both excited about data coming
Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), based in Mexico, to                     from wheat DNA genome mapping, although they believe
improve current varieties and develop new cultivars with                   some of the publicity about the recent breakthrough by
desired traits for better quality, higher yields or disease                British scientists was overstated.
resistance.                                                                   “We now have many of the individual pieces of the
  Steber, Campbell and Scot Hulbert, who holds the Cook                    wheat DNA sequence, but it is completely unassembled. It’s
Chair for Cropping Systems at WSU, collaborate on a                        like having a very complex jigsaw puzzle with many pieces
Washington Grain Commission funded project to breed for                    missing, and none of them have been put together,” said
increased drought tolerance in wheat.                                      Steber. “But it is far more information than we used to have,
   Campbell works with club, soft white and hard white                     and it will make wheat molecular biology easier.”
wheat cultivar development and improvement. A ma-                             “The new ‘Nex-gen’ sequencing methods really have
jor focus of her program is disease resistance, including                  potential to make wheat genetic improvement much more
resistance to stripe rust and stem rust as well as major soil-             efficient and productive,” noted Campbell. “This technol-
borne diseases and pathogenic nematodes.                                   ogy finally brings the cost of genotyping, or selection on
  Steber prefers to conduct her genetic work using spring                  DNA itself, down to less than the cost of looking at plants
wheat because several generations of spring wheat can be                   in the field. Once the entire sequence is assembled, that
produced at the impressive                                                                                   information will offer huge
WSU Plant Growth facility                                                                                    new opportunities for
each year.                                                                                                   plant breeding.”

   In contrast, winter wheat                                                                                  Steber noted that the
needs approximately eight                                                                                   challenge will be handling
weeks of vernalization                                                                                      the vast quantities of data
“in the cooler” to flower,                                                                                  analysis.
restricting generations to                                                                                     WSU is adequately
two per year at most. Once                                                                                  positioned in this regard
the genetics are worked out                                                                                 with good bioinformat-
in spring wheat, Steber’s                                                                                   ics, the presence of the
work to improve drought                                                                                     USDA-ARS Small Grains
resistance and pre-harvest                                                                                  Genotyping Laboratory,
sprouting resistance can be    The WSU plant growth facility in Pullman.                                    directed by Deven See, and
easily transferred to winter                                                                                the strength of the wheat
wheat.                                                                                                      breeding programs.
  Asked how long it takes to develop a new cultivar,                          Campbell and Steber emphasized that their interaction
Campbell and Steber explained the two basic areas of plant                 with growers in the region is very important to them and
breeding.                                                                  their research work. They both enjoy working with PNW
   Population building entails working with certain                        farmers and seed-growers.
cultivars that are not adapted to an area, but that have                      Campbell attends many plot tours and presents seminars
interesting or desired traits. This breeding process can take              for growers. Steber also meets with grower groups and
between 10 and 20 years to bring in desired genes and fully                seed reps to explain her research. That is another illustra-
develop a new variety.                                                     tion of the cooperative full-circle teamwork beginning
  In contrast, selection in “best by best” crosses is the                  with basic research and ending with results in the farmers’
crossing of specific, established cultivars to continue to                 wheat fields.
make gains in production and other traits.                                   “When I first came here from Ohio, I was very impressed
  For example, both USDA-ARS and the WSU winter                            with the growers here and their knowledge of our science
wheat program have populations derived from crosses be-                    and how involved they are with varietal research,” said
tween Finch and Eltan, both adapted varieties in the PNW.                  Campbell. “This is a great place to work with wheat.”
A new winter wheat variety can be released for founda-

                                                                                                                   WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011   47
 by Glen Squires, WGC Vice President

   Prices continue to rise as volatility expands on sev-                               Agricultural Supply and Demand (WASDE) report. In
 eral fronts. Exports are stronger with competitor crops                               2007/08 wheat stocks were near historic lows; coarse
 hindered. PNW crop conditions continue favorable.                                     grains stocks began the year at 30-year lows with rice
                                                                                       in a similar situation. Stocks-to-use ratios reflected
 World View                                                                            the supply tightness. Wheat hit an all-time low of 19.1
                                                                                       percent; coarse grains fell to 13.6 percent, the lowest
   Rising commodity prices, food shortages, political
                                                                                       since 1973, and rice began the marketing year at a 30-
 unrest, currency changes, government financial con-
                                                                                       year low of 17.8 percent. Also at that time, crude oil and
 cerns, increased fuel prices and weather all influence
                                                                                       input prices rose before grain prices. In 2008, crude oil
 the current market. Some topics are somewhat reminis-
                                                                                       prices peaked at more than $150 a barrel.
 cent of 2007/08, but there are differences.
                                                                                         In contrast, the current world wheat supply of
   Despite rapidly rising prices, the supply of grain
                                                                                       843 million metric tons (mmt) is actually the second
 worldwide is not at the constricted level of two and
                                                                                       highest in history (down 6.8 mmt from last year’s
 three years ago, according to USDA’s recent World

                                                 Table 1: World Wheat Supply and Use
                                                                        2002/03 to 2010/11
                                         02/03           03/04          04/05        05/06       06/07      07/08     08/09     09/10    10/11*
                                                                         million metric tons
      BEGINNING STOCKS                  202.00         166.10         132.68        150.62     147.46     126.98    124.78    167.20    197.60
         Canada                          16.20          23.60          25.86         25.75      25.27      20.05     28.61     26.85     23.17
         Australia                       10.10          26.10          21.90         25.17      10.82      13.84     21.42     21.92     25.00
         Argentina                       12.30          14.50          16.00         14.50      15.20      16.80     11.00     11.00     14.00
         EU                             124.50         106.90         146.78        132.36     124.87     120.20    151.12    138.05    136.53
         FSU-12                          97.00          60.90          86.58         91.92      84.98      92.69    115.44    113.89     80.98
         China                           90.30          86.50          91.95         97.45     108.47     109.30    112.46    115.12    114.50
         All Other Foreign              172.80         172.30          177.89       175.81     177.27     181.00    174.78    195.45    191.13
         USA                             43.70          63.80          58.74         57.84      49.22      55.82     68.02     60.37     60.10
       World Production                 566.90         554.60         625.70        620.80     596.10     609.70    684.16    682.65    645.41
       Supply, Total                    768.90         720.70         758.38        771.42     743.56     736.68    808.94    845.85    843.01
         FSU-12                          73.70          65.90          72.88         75.74      72.53      75.60     76.32     80.25     84.05
         China                          105.20         104.50         102.00        101.00     102.00     106.00    105.50    107.00    108.80
         All Other Foreign              392.40         385.90         400.20        416.33     411.11     406.44    425.62    434.08    440.37
         USA                             30.30          32.50          31.82         31.36      30.94      28.57     34.29     30.93     32.01
        World Use                       601.60         688.80         606.90        624.43     616.58     616.61    641.73    652.26    665.23
      ENDING STOCKS                     166.10         131.90         150.60        147.65     126.98     120.07    167.20    197.60    177.77
 * Projected
     Sources: WASDE 2/11; USDA/FAS Grain: World Markets and Trade, January 2011 and earlier.

                                                                                                                                                                                     and output for the upcoming
                                                      Chart 1: World Population Growth                                                                                               production year are even more
                                                                                        Projected to 2050                                                                            critical when viewed against
                           10                                                                                                                                                        this demand.
                                                                                                                                                  900+ mmt est.
                                                                                                                                                              9.5 est.                 The WFP suggests that the
                           8                                                                                                                                                         upward pressure on world food
                                                                                                      660+ mmt                                                                       prices is not abating and will
                                                                                                                            6.8 billion population
  Population in billions

                                                                                                                                                                                     likely persist in the months to
   Million metric tons

                                              World wheat                                                                                                                            come. The global food price
                                              consumption                                                                                                                            index produced by the United
                           4                                                                                                                                                         Nations’ Food and Agriculture
                                   229 mmt
                                                                                                                                                                                     Organization (FAO) reached
                                                            Less developed countries
                           2                                                                                                                                                         231 points in January, higher
                                                                                                                                                                                     than the previous peak of 213.5
                                                            More developed countries                                                                                                 reached in 2008. The FAO is
                                                                                                                                                                                     hopeful that countries will not
                                                                                                                                                                                     resort to export bans and other
                                Source: US Wheat Associates
                                                                                                                                                                                     protectionist moves, which
                                                                                                                                                                                     would fuel an already heated
                                                                                                                                                    Unrest in several countries has added to the food
record) with a stocks-to-use ratio of 26.7 percent, the
                                                                                                                                                  security issue, with many countries increasing grain
second largest since 2002 (Table 1). The rice stocks to
                                                                                                                                                  purchases. Egypt has absorbed most of the costs for
use ratio of 20.8 percent is the largest since a similar
                                                                                                                                                  increased procurement with the bread subsidy continu-
reading in 2003.
                                                                                                                                                  ing. While the Middle East is certainly in the news,
  World coarse grains numbers are much different.                                                                                                 including their increased grain demand, keep an eye
Stocks are projected by USDA to be just 154.0 mmt.                                                                                                on Asia. The rice situation could drive wheat demand
This is a drop of 44.7 mmt from last year and the single                                                                                          higher. Rice is the staple for more than half the world’s
biggest stocks decrease in several decades. The stocks-                                                                                           population. Rice supplies are currently adequate with
to-use ratio of coarse grains is just 13.7 percent, almost                                                                                        prices not yet rising (Chart 2). However, countries are
identical to the tight (13.6 percent) situation which                                                                                             beginning to sharply increase purchases to build stock-
helped to foster the price explosion of 2007/08. Coarse                                                                                           piles, and some suppliers are facing flooding issues. It is
grains are a price driver.                                                                                                                        estimated that more than two-thirds of all rice exports
  While overall grain reserves seem adequate, it is not                                                                                           come from just four Asian producers. A reduced harvest
time for complacency. Weather has a way of changing                                                                                               in one or two of them could have implications.
world dynamics just as last year’s drought and export                                                                                               If reports are accurate, the next market driver could be
ban in Russia began the price run for wheat. Food                                                                                                 China. While the severity of Russia’s drought last year
price inflation is now the dialogue. The World Food                                                                                               exploded onto the scene, drought conditions in China
Programme (WFP) says along with wheat, costs for                                                                                                  are well known. The United Nations recently issued an
coarse grains are also rising on smaller than expected                                                                                            alert about the drought in China’s northern production
harvests. Expect to see the food-for-fuel debate heat                                                                                             region, said to be the worst in 60 years, with an esti-
back up as corn stocks fall to a 15-year low with higher                                                                                          mated 37 percent of acres affected. The region produces
than expected ethanol production.                                                                                                                 two-thirds of China’s wheat. Higher corn imports are
  The current escalation in commodity prices hap-                                                                                                 also expected.
pened before crude oil prices began to rise. This could                                                                                             The country is said to be bracing for the possibility of
serve as another catalyst for price strength.                                                                                                     an upcoming weak wheat crop by implementing poli-
  One thing is certain—consumption is headed up.                                                                                                  cies to encourage grain production. Having been largely
Recent data from U.S. Wheat Associates show a correla-                                                                                            absent in the market, China’s entry would surely put
tion between increased demand for wheat and world                                                                                                 pressure on prices. Tempering this news is China’s esti-
population growth (Chart 1). Growing conditions                                                                                                   mated wheat stocks of 60 mmt—about 6 month’s

                                                                                                                                                                                                WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011   49
                                                                                                                                                                                                          three years ago.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • World wheat con-
                               Chart 2: Rice Prices Out of Step with Wheat and Corn                                                                                                                       sumption is up 13 mmt
                               600                                                                                                                                                                        to 665.2 mmt, setting
                                                                                                                                                                                        -9% rice
                               500                                                                                                                                                      (100 Thai Baht)   a record for the third
                                                                                                                                                                                                          consecutive year.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • World trade of
      Dollars per metric ton

                               450                                                                                                                                                                        125.3 mmt is the third
                               400                                                                                                                                                                        largest on record.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Demand in the
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Middle East and
                                                                                                                                                                                          76% wheat       North Africa is ris-
                               250                                                                                                                                                                        ing with concern for
                                                                                                                                                                                        64% corn
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Some governments
                                                                                                                                                                                                          are increasing food












                                                                                                                                                                                                          subsidies and moving to
                                                                                                                                                                                                          control consumer prices
                                     Source: USDA/FAS Grain: World Markets and Trade                                                                                                                      with increased imports.
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Russian export re-
 usage. With nearly $3 trillion in foreign reserves, if
                                                                                                                                                                  strictions continue; Ukraine’s restriction could lift
 needed, China can certainly use its buying power to
                                                                                                                                                                  by April.
 avert any serious domestic food shortage. China is also
 expected to begin increasing its strategic oil reserves                                                                                                         • Speculators continue to see profit opportunities
 during the first half of 2011, which could put additional                                                                                                        in commodities.
 pressure on crude oil prices.                                                                                                                                   • Milling wheat is in short supply, favoring exports.
   About half of Australia’s crop ended up in the feed                                                                                                           • Russia may not rebound. Winter wheat area is
 wheat category due to persistent rain and flooding                                                                                                               down 3 million hectares from expected. Growing
 conditions. Rail infrastructure was hit especially hard                                                                                                          conditions are ”satisfactory.” Spring plantings will
 by flooding, with extensive road damage. On the other                                                                                                            hinge on weather.
 hand, many Australian growers will enter the next                                                                                                               • Globally, planted acres must increase to meet de-
 year with excellent soil moisture. We can expect to see
                                                                                                                                                                  mand as yields remain stagnant.
 Australia be very aggressive in the Egyptian market
                                                                                                                                                                 • Ocean rates favor buyers. Rates are down the last
 with its large supply of off-quality wheat.
                                                                                                                                                                  six months and about 25 percent lower than a year
   Canada has also had its share of crop downgraded by
                                                                                                                                                                  ago, but demand for mid-size bulk ships is picking
 poor weather, even prompting some hiccups in supply-
 ing its regular buyer Japan. Argentina has rebounded
                                                                                                                                                                 • The spread between Gulf and PNW rates to Japan
 from a 14-year low production with output of 14 mmt,
 becoming the fifth-largest exporter this year with 8.5                                                                                                           continue to favor the PNW with the spread still
 mmt out the door.                                                                                                                                                much higher than two years ago.
                                                                                                                                                                 • Dollar weakness favors exports.
     Market factors:
           • World wheat supply is the second highest only to                                                                                                    • U.S. heartland crop conditions are not encouraging.
            last year.                                                                                                                                           • The EPA has increased the ethanol blend, increas-
           • The International Grains Council pegged                                                                                                              ing corn demand.
            2011/2012 output up 3 percent to 647 mmt, but
            given consumption, stocks will still be drawn                                                                                            Domestic View
            upon.                                                                                                                                      Reduced Baltic Sea exports, poor quality in Australia
           • Wheat stock-to-use ratio is a comfortable 26.7                                                                                          and Canada, and a weaker dollar have sent buyers to
            percent versus the record low 19.1 percent                                                                                               the U.S. There is plenty of wheat to buy with a supply of

89.5 mmt (3.29 billion bushels), the largest supply since             by class will remain plentiful with continued higher
1999. For growers, the increased demand is welcomed,                  year-end stocks-to-use ratios showing HRW (25.7%),
especially accompanied by rising prices.                              HRS (33.6%), SRW (53.7%), SW (25.1%), and Durum
  How high will it go? All indications are that 2011 will             (35.8%). The ratio is 33 percent, the second highest in
be very volatile, and it may be 2012 before prices level              a decade. SW, being the tightest, still carries a 92-days
out as higher prices will cause increased plantings this              usage number.
year. With expanding global food security, food price                   Responding to prices and some better planting condi-
inflation concerns and an ever increasing demand for                  tions, winter wheat acreage rose by nearly 10 percent
grain and meat against a backdrop of rising oil prices,               to 40.9 million acres (ma). HRW area is 29.6 ma (up 4%)
no room for another supply shock due to adverse                       with SRW at 7.76 ma, up a huge 47 percent. SRW, with
weather exists. That said, implications for adverse                   the second highest stocks-to-use ratio in history (53.7%)
weather exist in many regions of the world as previ-                  will add another huge crop and bring stiffer competi-
ously indicated, including some concerns domestically,                tion for SW export sales next year. White winter wheat
particularly throughout the Midwest with the hard red                 area is 3.66 ma, up 4 percent. PNW spring wheat
winter (HRW) crop.                                                    acreage, particularly HRS, will increase given price
  Meteorologist Art Douglas recently alerted PNW                      strength.
growers to Mexico’s dryness and high temperatures                       The USDA raised the average producer price for
moving into the Southern U.S. with Midwest drought                    wheat by 5 cents to $5.70 per bushel over January’s
and high temperature concerns. Freezing has already                   estimate, and 20 cents higher than in November. Corn,
taken some toll. Midwest conditions now compare to                    barley and oats are all up 10 cents on the month.
the 1950’s and 1960’s. There is about a 75 percent chance               The $5.70 per bushel for wheat is a bit misleading
that La Niña will not turn into a full-fledged El Niño                when looking at current prices approaching and even
in 201. It will most likely hold off until 2012 or 2013.              exceeding $10.00 per bushel, depending on class and
Douglas noted that conditions should again be favor-                  protein level (Chart 3). One analyst aptly commented
able for PNW winter and spring crops, and that as long                that predicting the future prices of grains is next to
as La Niña is around, Australia will be wet.                          impossible because that’s a bet on the weather.
   The USDA made few changes to the overall balance
sheet in its February WASDE Report. HRW and soft
white (SW) wheat
exports were raised
again, offset by                      Chart 3: Nearby Cash Prices at Export Locations
decreases in hard                                              Weekly values for 11/10/2005 to 2/10/2011
red spring (HRS)              25.0
and soft red winter                                                                                                      850
(SRW) wheat. The                                                                                                         800
export pace is ahead          20.0                                                                                       750
                                                                                                         W Coast HRW     700
of last year by 55                                                                                       12.0% protein
                              17.5                                                                                       650
                                                                                                                               Dollars per metric ton

percent (up 10.3                                                                                         W Coast HRS
                               Dollars per bushel

                                                                                                         13.5% protein
mmt), of which the            15.0                                                                                       550
Middle East is 40                                                                                        SW              500
                              12.5                                                                                       450
percent (primarily
Egypt). HRW ex-               10.0                                                                                       350
ports (6.4 mmt) are                                                                                                      300
nearly double this                                                                                                       250
time last year. HRS                                                                                                      200
is up 81 percent,
                               2.5                                                                                       100
and SW exports are
18 percent ahead of






last year. Despite
                                    Source: US Wheat Associates
the demand, stocks

                                                                                                               WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011                    51
                                                                                                  By Nat Webb

  A good deal of space in this column has been devoted            Vice-President Glen Squires, travel to buyers’ conferences
to wheat research at public universities and private com-         around the world to represent the white wheat produced in
panies. Research is an important element of our industry          our region.
and deserves the coverage. But the Washington Grain                 Tom has also been instrumental in generating studies
Commission is charged with other areas of responsibility          showing the advantages of blending white wheat with
too, and I would like to make an effort here to acquaint you      DNS. The result of this blend is a larger loaf of bread using
with just one of these aspects: marketing.                        the same amount of grain. The advantage for bakers is that
  This is a subject that is close to my heart because after       white wheat can replace other, more expensive classes of
all, it’s what our income ultimately depends upon. The            wheat. This not only provides the baking company more
definition of marketing varies from person to person.             profit, it potentially provides our Washington producers
Prior to becoming a member of the commission, I viewed            with a new market.
marketing as selling my wheat (at a good price) to the lo-          Glen keeps a wealth of information about our customers
cal elevator. Where it went from there was someone else’s         as well as the various grain crops produced in our state.
responsibility.                                                   With intricate graphs and tables, he briefs the commission
   After serving on the commission these last three years,        on the production details and various markets we serve at
I’ve come to realize my marketing obligation doesn’t end at       each of the five commission meetings we hold annually.
the grated truck dump a few miles from my farm. My local            Scott Yates, the commission’s communication director,
elevator, where I have concentrated most of my marketing          ensures that Washington growers understand the value of
proficiency in the past, is an important part of a system, but    the commission’s marketing efforts through the articles he
it is only one part. That elevator company sells my wheat         writes about WGC’s funded initiatives. His stories in Wheat
to another link in the marketing chain. In the Northwest,         Life go a long way to assure growers their assessments dol-
where 85 percent of our production is exported, that next         lars are being spent wisely.
link is an exporter, of which there are four (soon to be five).
                                                                    One aspect of marketing that has personally concerned
There, my wheat is transferred to an ocean-going vessel
                                                                  me is wheat quality. Specifically, why do we strive to
which transports it to an overseas mill that grinds it into
                                                                  produce quality wheat (that may have a lower yield) when
flour which is sold to bakeries which turn it into products
                                                                  many of our cost conscious customers place price ahead
which consumers—our ultimate customers—buy.
                                                                  of quality? Is it any wonder many producers feel that the
  To serve this customer, the WGC is involved in various          more wheat they produce (regardless of quality) the better
groups. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is one important              off they are financially?
pillar. The export marketing arm of U.S. wheat produc-
                                                                    That, however, is not the whole story. If we compete with
ers, USW develops export markets by demonstrating the
                                                                  the least-cost grain coming out of Black Sea countries, we
reliability, choice and value of U.S. wheat in more than
                                                                  might see our sales increase, but only as our profit margins
100 countries. Funded by U.S. wheat producers’ check-off
                                                                  decrease. Our marketing efforts at the WGC and USW
dollars that are managed by 19 state wheat commissions,
                                                                  emphasize quality along with a high yield because it is
as well as through cost-share funding provided by USDA’s
                                                                  ultimately value, not price, that drives our core markets.
Foreign Agricultural Service, USW is responsible for
creating and maintaining foreign demand for the wheat                Yes, our wheat costs more than wheat from Russia, but
we produce. The Washington Grain Commission has two               its quality is unassailable. Not to mention our customers
seats on the board of USW. Randy Suess and I currently            can depend on it arriving in a timely fashion in the condi-
represent Washington growers on the board. Randy was              tion we promised (but that’s for another column).
recently elected chairman of USW, and his one year term              There can be no doubt that research, in all its different
will start this summer.                                           forms, is the “bread” of our efforts here at the WGC, but if
   The WGC staff is constantly gathering data about               that’s the case, then marketing is the “butter.” It is impera-
Washington’s wheat crop. This information is used to an-          tive the two go hand-in-hand for us to succeed as farmers.
swer questions directly from potential buyers and to pro-         Thanks to the fine staff at the WGC and USW, growers can
vide USW with necessary marketing information. In addi-           rest assured commissioners know which side the bread is
tion, Chief Executive Officer Tom Mick and Commission             buttered on.

                                                                                                           WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011   53
 Ready, set, FYI
 Along with the Washington State Crop
 Improvement Agency, Oregon State
 University and AgriPro (Syngenta),
 Washington State University announced
 it will join in sponsoring a Northwest
 branch of the Farmers’ Yield Initiative
 (FYI). The cost of sponsorship is $5,000
 and will be accomplished through the
 university’s research foundation. Ralph
 Cavalieri, associate dean of the College
 of Agriculture at WSU and director of the

                                                                                                                                           REUTERS PHOTO
 Agriculture Research Center, said the edu-
 cational effort, which is reinforced with a
 penalty hammer, is worth the cost. “The
 purpose of FYI is to focus industry atten-    Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean.
 tion on the value of scientific research
 as well as the value of using certified
 seed,” Cavalieri said. “Another focus is
                                               High seas detour
 to encourage compliance with existing         Some grain shipments from the U.S. and Europe are adding up to 12 days to their
                                               travel time in order to avoid the risk of pirates. The ships, which ordinarily would
 seed laws.” FYI advertises a tip line that
                                               transit the Suez Canal, are sailing instead around South Africa’s Cape of Good
 can be used to report brown bagging
                                               Hope. The journey may be longer, but it’s safer and might even cost less as a result
 of federally protected seed, and in the       of premiums of $10,000 a day or more that insurers are levying on ships sailing
 Midwest, where FYI is well established,       anywhere close to the pirates’ Somalia base. As ships move further out to sea to
 court cases worth millions of dollars have    avoid the brigands, the pirates have adapted by using mother ships that go further
 been brought against those who have           into the Indian Ocean to pick off their targets. More than 600 mariners are currently
 broken proprietary seed laws. One of          held hostage in Somalia where ransoming crews and ships has become something
 FYI’s advertisements lists companies and      of a national industry. Maritime piracy is estimated to cost the world economy
 farmers who have been caught illegally        upwards of $12 billion annually.
 using seed, along with the message, “The

                                               Brace for the big switcheroo
 Plant Variety Protection Act allows for
 the recovery of all legal costs plus triple
 damages from those found guilty. Don’t                            This year’s cooling of the surface waters of the tropical Pacific off
 expose yourself to the risk of a trial in                             the coast of South America is the most pronounced since
 Federal Court!” As a result of the estab-                                accurate record keeping began in 1973. Among other
 lishment of a Northwest branch of FYI,                                     things, the La Niña is being blamed for floods in eastern
 farmers can expect to see more educa-                                        Australia, mudslides in Sri Lanka and Brazil and even for
 tional material coming to their homes                                         the closure of the Panama Canal due to flooding. (The
 and in the publications they read.                                            first time that’s happened since it opened in 1914.)
 With Washington wheat farmers                                                 Elsewhere, La Niña is being blamed for drought. But
 already having the highest certified                                          nothing lasts forever. While experts say the La Niña
                                                                             influence is on the wane, most believe an El Niño will
 seed use in the nation, it is unlikely the
                                                                           not replace it until 2012 or even 2013.
 sort of lawsuits that have plagued the
 Midwest will occur here.                                               NOAA photo showing cool (blue) and warm (red) regions in
                                                                        the Pacific Ocean during January 2011.

                                                                                                                         WGC REVIEW       WL

Speculators, climate fuel concerns
The chief executive officer of Unilever, the home, personal care
and food company with 163,000 employees around the world, says
speculators are driving up prices “for short term profits at the expense
of people living a dignified life,” adding that such an approach is “dif-
ficult to understand if you want to work for the long-term interests
of society.” Paul Polman also said he is so concerned about climate
change and water scarcity that Unilever questions whether Greece
and Spain will have enough water in the coming decade to “guarantee
us a tomato harvest that our business needs.”

GMOs and insects: No problem                                                                                              Adult Bedbug
                                                                                                                          (5.5 mm long)
Remember the researcher who claimed that GMO corn would devas-
tate butterfly populations? Ultimately, other researchers discounted
his science, and there’s been nary a peep about the impact of geneti-           A teachable moment?
cally engineered crops on insects. Until now. The news from a new               You can’t pay the general public to care about agricul-
Anglo-Swiss research project is positive. Looking at the impact of              ture’s on-going battle against the critters that eat their
                   GMO wheat on insects, the team concluded that                crops, but let one of nature’s bugs bite them and it is
                                                                                battle stations. Enter the bedbug. Years after virtually
                            “while genetic modification has consider-
                                                                                going extinct thanks to DDT, the bugs are back with
                                able ecological effects, the differences
                                                                                a vengeance. While resistance is something farmers
                                 between the GM wheat strains and               have been fighting for years, the public is just now
                                their non-GM counterparts are similar           being educated in how resilient insects can be. As a
                               to the differences we find between con-          result of repeated sprays of the same chemical, a natu-
                                  ventional wheat strains.” Bottom line?        ral selection process has created super bedbugs that
                                     “Within this context, there appears        have, among other things, nerve cells better able to
                                        to be no ecological problems            withstand chemical effects, higher levels of enzymes
                                          associated with the geneti-           that detoxify lethal substances and thicker shells that
                                           cally modified wheat lines           block the insecticides. Tests show today’s bedbugs
                                            tested in this study.”              can survive pesticide levels a thousand times greater
                                                                                than a decade ago.

   Health care may hinge on wheat decision
   Whether the health care act passed by Congress in 2009 is constitutional or not may hinge on a case brought by a wheat
   farmer in 1942. Roscoe Filburn, a Dayton, Ohio, farmer was fined by the Agriculture Department for exceeding his govern-
   ment imposed quota for winter wheat production. He sued, taking the case all the way to the Supreme Court. Although
   Filburn received subsidies, he didn’t feel the government could limit how much he could plant, especially when the wheat
   he grew didn’t leave his premises. He planted 23 acres of wheat with only an 11-acre allotment under the Agricultural
   Adjustment Act. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled against Filburn. The justices said global markets were affected
   because Filburn grew his own wheat and didn’t have to buy it from others. His contribution might be small, the Supreme
   Court said, but “taken together with that of many others similarly situated, it is far from trivial.” The court has since used the
   commerce clause to uphold the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1972 Clean Water Act, among others. The constitutionality of
   national health insurance may hinge on Filburn because, just as the farmer’s decision potentially affected global markets,
   not buying insurance would affect the national health care market, defeating efforts to spread risks and costs over a larger
   population. Several lower court rulings have agreed with that premise, but other decisions have argued the Filburn case is
   not applicable to the health care debate. Expect to hear about Filburn when the national health care policy makes it to the
   Supreme Court.

                                                                                                                   WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011   55

                                                                   Everybody’s got problems
                                                                   China is frequently portrayed as an economic juggernaut, but
                                                                   the U.S. Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman (who recently an-
                                                                   nounced his resignation), said the country’s domestic challenges
                                                                   can’t be ignored. One of the biggest hurdles the country faces, said
                                                                   Huntsman, is “transitioning 800 million farmers into a world in which
                                                                   (China) only needs 200 million farmers.” (Which is 198 million more
                                                                   farmers than the U.S. needs to produce enough food for 300 million
                                                                   Americans and many more overseas).

 Shame on you!
 A survey conducted by General Mills reveals that while 61 percent of Americans
 believe they consume enough whole grains in their diet, really only 5 percent do.
 U.S. dietary guidelines recommend three daily servings of at least 48 grams of whole
 grains each day. The problem is that many people don’t know exactly what a whole
 grain is—only 55 percent could correctly identify it on a food label. (FYI—whole
 grain contains all three parts of the grain: endosperm, germ and bran.) Whole grains
 are associated with a reduction in heart disease and certain cancers, and they can
 benefit diabetes and weight management.

 A family affair
 The Wall Street Journal calls Cargill “tight lipped” and “one of the largest but least
 known U.S. corporations.” The mystery surrounding the huge company is because
 the Cargill family never took their company public, a decision motivated, its manag-           Reply hazy
 ers say, by seeking to avoid Wall Street’s
 short-term expectations. The company                                                           —try again
 was founded in 1865 when William                                                               If only there were a Magic 8 Ball for the
 Wallace Cargill, the son of a Scottish sea                                                     wheat industry. Is there a possibility of
 captain, purchased his first grain ware-                                                       a food price shock? Signs point to yes.
 house in Iowa. Today the company is                                                            Is there a possibility the 2011 harvest
 responsible for 25 percent of all U.S. grain                                                   will be adequate for all? Outlook
 exports. As secretive as the company is,                                                       not so good. Along these lines, the
 it can’t stay out of the news. Recently,                                                       International Grains Council has
 it purchased the grain exporting infrastructure of what was the Australian Wheat               increased its estimate for global wheat
 Board from Agrium for $1.1 billion. Now, Cargill has announced plans to give up its            production by 23 million metric tons to
 majority stake in Mosaic Co., a leading phosphate and potash seller it created in              670 mmt, mainly attributed to better
 2004 for around $1.7 billion. It will turn a handsome profit in the process. Its shares of     weather in Russia. Nevertheless, that’s
 Mosaic are said to be worth $24 billion. Some of the profits will go to family members         not expected to be enough to reduce
 who have reportedly been unhappy with the mediocre returns they have received in               wheat prices which analysts predict
 the past.                                                                                      will top $9 a bushel this year and
                                                                                                remain above $7 a bushel until 2012.

 Darn lists                                                                                     Meanwhile, the European Union’s farm
                                                                                                spokesman said that while it is unlikely
 ConAgra is blaming at least a portion of their recent decline in earnings on consum-           there will be a repeat of the food crisis
 ers shopping from lists and making more quick trips to the store instead of stocking           of 2008, the era of cheap food has
 up as much. The chief executive officer of the company said consumers are “being               ended. He said the new plateau will be
 as value conscious as we’ve ever seen.” As a result, ConAgra did not get the lift on its       much higher than was established in
 promotions that it would have normally expected to see.                                        the first part of the 2000s.

                                                                                                                     WGC REVIEW     WL

                                                                       The end is near!
                                                                       Lester Brown, the founder of Worldwatch and the Earth
                                                                       Policy Institute, claims the planet is one poor harvest away
                                                                       from chaos. “Things could start unraveling at any time
                                                                       now, and it’s likely to start on the food front,” he said in the
                                                                       process of promoting his new book, World on Edge. In the
                                                                       book, Brown writes that archeological records of earlier
                                                                       civilizations indicate that more often than not it was food
                                                                       shortages that led to their downfall. He suggests the world
                                                                       is experiencing a “food bubble” that is currently being
                                                                       sustained by things like overpumping aquifers, overplow-
                                                                       ing land and overloading the atmosphere with carbon
                                                                       dioxide. “The question is not whether the food bubble will
                                                                       burst, but when,” he said. Brown paints a picture of how
                                                                       one failed harvest could spark a grain shortage that would
                                                                       send prices skyrocketing, cause spreading hunger and
                                                                       result in the collapse of governments. “With confidence
                                                                       in the world grain market shattered, the global economy
                                                                       could start to unravel,” he said.

A roller coaster few years                                             It’s a bird,
You can’t read the news lately without getting caught up in the
rising buzz over commodity prices. Among other things, the UN’s
                                                                       it’s a plane, it’s. . .DUST!
Food and Agriculture Organization said a “food-price shock” was        The level of dust in the atmosphere has doubled over the
possible with a basket of staple commodities, including wheat,         last 100 years according to scientists who examined core
rice and corn, jumping above the peak set in June 2008, dur-           samples from glaciers, lake bottoms and coral reefs. Part of
ing the last run-up in prices. The World Food Programme (WFP)          the additional dust comes from human activities like con-
reports it is nearly $3 billion short this year in the fight against   struction and agricultural burning, but climate change it-
global hunger, an amount that is likely to grow as food prices         self has also reportedly increased the world’s dustier land-
keep rising. The head of the WFP said when people are hungry           scape. But dust isn’t necessarily all bad. The African dust
they have three options: they revolt, they migrate or they die.        that blows out of the Sahara is thought to stimulate plant
The president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, called food-         growth in the Amazon by bringing phosphorus across the
price volatility a threat to global growth and social stability. A     Atlantic and depositing it in Brazil. And some dust, which
Rabobank analysis predicted fears of rising food prices would          is rich in iron, falls in areas of the ocean nourishing sea life
encourage governments to get more involved in the market in            there. Dust also cools the land below by reflecting sunlight
2011. A Japanese investment bank, Nomura, recently compiled a          back into space and by helping clouds form.
list of countries that would be devastated by a food crisis, which
it described as a prolonged commodity price spike. Among other
things, they calculated their list on the basis of GDP per capita
in U.S. dollars and the percentage spent on food within house-
holds. The top 10 countries in the greatest jeopardy, include
Bangladesh, $497 per capita income, 53.8 percent of household
income that goes to food; Morocco, $2,769, 63 percent; Algeria,
$4,845, 53 percent; Nigeria, $1,370, 73 percent; Lebanon, $6,978,
34 percent; Egypt, $1,991, 48.1 percent; Sri Lanka, $2,013, 39.6
percent; Sudan, $1,353, 52.9 percent; Hong Kong, $30,863, 25.8
percent, and Azerbaijan, $5,315, 60.2 percent. For the record, the
U.S. GDP per capita income is $47,000 of which about 10 percent
is spent on food.

                                                                                                               WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011   57
                                                In the business of building leaders
 By Scott A. Yates                                                                                 and domestic and international trips
   Anyone wanting a list of Eastern Washington wheat industry movers                               AgForestry arranges are priceless, but it’s
 and shakers could do no better than consult the membership rolls of the                           the network of people he encountered
 Washington Agriculture and Forestry Education Foundation.                                         during the program that really made the
                                                                                                   commitment worthwhile.
   Incorporated in 1977 with its first class launched in 1978, AgForestry, as
 the organization is affectionately known by those who have participated                              “The program introduces you to leaders
 in its two-year curriculum, will be enrolling its 34th class next October.                        you might never meet otherwise so that
 Although tweaks have been made to the program over the years—the big-                             when an issue arises you’re not afraid to
 gest of which was reducing its class size from 30 to 24 and limiting its time                     call the aide to U.S. Senator Patty Murray
 commitment from 71 days to 59 days—its emphasis on networking has                                 because you know her—or the chief of
 remained rock solid.                                                                              staff to the governor, because you’re on a
                                                                                                   first-name basis. The networking thing is
  For Dana Herron, an alumnus of Class 2 who serves on the Washington
                                                                                                   huge,” he said.
 Grain Commission and operates Tri-State Seed in Connell, the seminars
                                                                                                     Derek Schafer, a wheat grower from
                                                                                                   Ritzville who is in Class 32, agrees.
                                                                                                     “AgForestry is not just about knowing
                                                                                                   what to say when you have an issue come
                                                                                                   up for your industry, it’s about knowing
                                                                                                   who to call and learning how to make
                                                                                                   those connections before you have a prob-
                                                                                                   lem,” he said.
                                                                                                      Dave Roseleip, president of AgForestry,
                                                                                                   has been with the program since the be-
                                                                                                   ginning. As a young employee of what was
                                                                                                   then called the Intermediate Credit Bank
                                                                                                   (today Northwest Farm Credit) he was in
                                                                                                   Class 1. He has been on the staff since 1984.
                                                                                                   He agrees the contacts made outside the
                                                                                                   program are invaluable, but he emphasizes
                                                                                                   the networking that occurs within classes.

 When you’ve been president of an organization for 27 years, there’s plenty of time to get a few
                                                                                                     “We still believe that 50 percent of the
 plaques for exemplary service and photos with important politicians—that’s the decorating         learning experience over the two years is
 scheme in Dave Roseleip’s AgForestry office.                                                      the networking with other participants in

                                                                                                                                            WGC REPORTS       WL

(Above) Copper is not a commodity you instantly associate with the AgForestry program, but when Class 32 took a trip to Chile, which is the world’s number
one producer of the metal, a trip into a copper mine was almost a requirement. (Below) It may not be the type of attire Derek Schafer, right, ordinarily wears
at home on the farm outside Ritzville, but when you’re in Washington, D.C., in front of the White House, a suit and tie isn’t so out of place. Fellow AgForestry
member, Jason Ragan, left, manages tidelands for Taylor Shellfish near Shelton.

                                                                the program, during class hours and after hours. That’s one reason online
                                                                (internet based) seminars never caught hold. People want to be with people
                                                                and network with them face to face,” he said.
                                                                  Initially funded with a $200,000 grant from the Kellogg Foundation,
                                                                today AgForestry operates its $560,000 budget from donations made by its
                                                                alumni and organizations (including the WGC, which provides $10,000 a
                                                                year). Roseleip said these individuals and organizations believe in “pay-
                                                                ing forward” the building of “human capital for their industries and rural
                                                                  “It’s not a very personal way of saying it, but that’s what we’re doing.
                                                                That’s the reason we have universities and other institutions in which soci-
                                                                ety can make an investment in its young people,” he said.
                                                                  Although those selected to participate in the program pay $1,500 a year for
                                                                the opportunity (rising to $2,000 a year for class 34) the cost is still a bargain.
                                                                The AgForestry organization invests another $15,000 per individual over
                                                                the two years. Not only are all accommodations paid for, so are airfares to
                                                                Washington, D.C., and an international location, and most meals.
                                                                   Roseleip sees the organization taking individuals who have already

                                                                                                                                      WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011        59

 Every AgForestry class likes to think they’re the best one yet—and they      It’s not every day a Ritzville farmer gets to talk with one of the world’s pre-
 are—said Dave Roseleip, president of the organization. Here Class 32 poses   eminent experts on no-till farming, but Derek Schafer had the experience
 for a group photo during their international trip to Chile.                  when he met Carlos Crovetto.

 started their leadership process and broadening their                          Herron remembers that difficulty too and cites his
 perspective from a local to international basis, while                       brother, Chris, for making the opportunity available to
 providing them with the enhanced skills to be more ef-                       him.
 fective at any level of their industry or community. That’s                   “I was way fortunate to have a little brother to support
 how it worked for Herron. He entered Class 2 at age 31                       me in various efforts for a long time. There’s no way I
 in 1982. Two years later, he was nominated to go through                     would be where I am without him,” he said.
 the officer chairs at the Washington Association of Wheat
                                                                                But fewer wheat growers are applying to AgForestry
                                                                              nowadays. Schafer was the only one in his group and
   Schafer, 35, who is the fifth generation on his family                     that’s not a recent anomaly. Roseleip believes part of the
 farm, already serves on the board of Union Elevator in                       reason is simply because there are fewer wheat growers
 Lind and on the advisory committee of the group helping                      today than there were 20 years ago. Not to mention the
 to design a new deep furrow planter. But he points out                       average age of farmers in Washington is 57.
 that any of these voluntary leadership positions take time
                                                                                Schafer, however, is hopeful that there will be a turn-
 away from his farming operation which means depending
                                                                              around and more wheat growers will be looking into tak-
 on others for help.
                                                                              ing advantage of the AgForestry opportunity in the future.
   “It’s tough to pick an ideal time to do something like
                                                                                “I’m very encouraged as I look around me and see how
 AgForestry. I couldn’t have done it without my father, my
                                                                              many young people have returned to their rural commu-
 mom and my wife. You need somebody to help support
                                                                              nities since I’ve been back on the farm,” he said.
 your family and your operation while you’re gone,” he

     Sign up now!
     The deadline for applying to Class 34 of the Washington Agriculture and Forestry Education Foundation is April
     30. Although there is no age limit, most AgForestry classes as a whole have an average age between 37 and
     39. Participants have been as young as 25 and as old as 56. To be eligible to apply you must be a U.S. citizen
     and a Washington resident for one year and be willing to commit 58 days over two years to the program.
     Self-employed individuals must demonstrate their ability to be away from their enterprises for the necessary
     amount of time. For more information and an application go to agforestry.org.

                                                                                                                      WGC REPORTS     WL

New ag economist puts grain first
By Scott A. Yates                                                      in Madison, he has been hired to fill the Endowed Chair
   It doesn’t take a chart of commodity prices, a graph of             in Small Grain Economics to be located in the School of
currency fluctuations or a table of transportation costs to            Economic Sciences within the College of Agricultural,
figure out why the Washington Grain Commission (WGC)                   Human and Natural Resource Sciences in Pullman.
chose to spend $2 million to fund a chair in Small Grains                The 52-year-old arrives this summer with a pedi-
Economics at Washington State University.                              gree that has at least one commissioner gushing over
   Wheat farming has always been as much about econom-                 Washington’s good fortune. “I didn’t think we had any
ics as agronomics, but since WSU did away with its ag                  chance in the world to get this guy,” said Randy Suess.
economics department in 2004 by combining it within the                A commissioner representing Whitman County, Suess
larger School of Economic                                                                           attended seminars presented
Sciences, small grain grow-                                                                         by Fortenbery and had lunch
ers’ flow of information                                                                            with him when he came to
about their financial wel-                                                                          WSU for his interview. “He’s
fare has slowed to a drip.                                                                          already doing much of the
Explanations of federal                                                                             same work in Wisconsin, and
programs like ACRE and                                                                              he’s already got an endowed
SURE have come to depend                                                                            chair there. He’s going to be
on economic experts from                                                                            able to step right in and imme-
other universities. Even                                                                            diately fill our needs. I think
questions closer to home,                                                                           we’re really lucky.”
like landlord vs. tenant                                                                                    Luck did have something
shares, wind power, biofuel                                                                               to do with it. Fortenbery grew
                                Randall Fortenbery, recently hired to fill the Washington Grain Com-
opportunities, cropping         mission endowed chair in Small Grains Economics at Washington State
                                                                                                          up in Montana and received
systems and direct seed         University, is shown on the right during a meeting in Bangladesh.         his first two degrees from
versus traditional farming                                                                                Montana State University.
financial comparisons, have                                                                               Although he spent part of his
not received the attention many growers would like.                          youth in Alaska, where his father flew bush planes, his
   Changing the status quo, however, was not something                       family has since relocated to Big Sky Country.
the university could do on its own. Funding cutbacks have                A map reveals Fortenbery’s decision to take the job at
made it hard enough to hold onto current faculty, let alone            WSU. Pullman is 522 miles from Lewistown, Mont., where
establish new positions.                                               his father lives, versus 1,133 miles from Madison, UW’s
  Enter the WGC.                                                       home base. Fortenbery’s siblings are even closer, with
                                                                       homes near Flathead Lake. Not to mention the fact some
  In a memorandum of understanding signed May 2009,
                                                                       of his colleagues in WSU’s economics school also have
WSU and the WGC laid out the framework for the new
                                                                       Montana roots. “They reached out and encouraged me to
economic chair, specifying the individual hired would
                                                                       apply. I was very happy where I was. I probably wouldn’t
conduct “for the primary benefit of Washington small
                                                                       have applied to a different university. A lot of things just
grain producers, a vigorous and impactful outreach and
                                                                       came together,” he said.
applied research program directed at the current high-
priority issues facing the small grains industry.”                       Fortenbery, who received his Ph.D. from the University
                                                                       of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign, has held the Renk Chair
   This is the third endowed chair funded by the com-
                                                                       in Agribusiness at UW since 2002. Although most of his
mission. The WGC shared in creating the Vogel Chair in
                                                                       career has been spent in academia, there was a two-year
Wheat Breeding and Genetics with the state and WSU. It
                                                                       period where he served as director of research for a com-
is held by Kulvinder Gill. The Cook Chair in Cropping
                                                                       pany that managed speculative and hedging accounts for
Systems, which was underwritten with a $1.5 million en-
                                                                       some of America’s food giants. While he enjoyed the job,
dowment from the WGC, is held by Scot Hulbert.
                                                                       he didn’t like the commute or Chicago, where the position
  Randall Fortenbery is the latest addition to an exclusive            was based.
group. A professor at the University of Wisconsin (UW)

                                                                                                                  WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011    61
                                                                                                            Friend or foe?
                                                                                                               Everyone from the President
                                                                                                            of France to the neighbor in
                                                                                                            the coffee shop has strong
                                                                                                            opinions about commodity
                                                                                                            speculators. The newly hired
                                                                                                            small grain economist at
                                                                                                            Washington State University is
                                                                                                            no exception.
                                                                                                               Randall Fortenbery said it’s
                                                                                                            true speculators impact price
 Randall Fortenbery and his wife are empty nesters which makes the transition from the University of Wis-   levels, but that’s different from
 consin to Washington State University an easier process.                                                   saying speculators manipulate
   Fortenbery’s youth included a plow-                   as he sets to work on various wheat                prices.
 ing phase—snow plowing, that is. He                     projects.                                             “People look for simple
 quickly graduated to a speedier way                       “There’s a lot of commonality be-                explanations. Corn went up.
 down ski slopes, ultimately attending                   tween the subjects I’ve already investi-           Speculators were in the mar-
 Montana State University on a skiing                    gated and the sort of opportunities and            ket. Hence speculators caused
 scholarship while studying zoology. He                  challenges Eastern Washington wheat                the rise. But that doesn’t
 subsequently switched majors to natu-                   producers are going to be faced with               explain causality,” he said. “It’s
 ral resource economics which whetted                    as we move forward,” he said. “Not                 not that speculators cause
 his interest in commodities and trade.                  to mention, there are a lot of strong              price levels, but that they enter
 He stayed at Montana to receive his                     relationships about what drives prices             and exit the market with a lot
 degree in applied economics.                            between all commodities.”                          of money which causes volatil-
   Although his family didn’t farm,                         Unlike 10 or 12 years ago, when the             ity. Blaming the speculator is
 Fortenbery is not uneducated in the                     biggest problem producers faced in the             too simple an explanation for
 joys of agriculture. His grandfather                    market was their customer, Fortenbery              the actual dynamics.”
 had a farm in Kentucky where picking                    said today it’s the entire global econom-             Furthermore, Fortenbery
 tobacco was a summertime pursuit. He                    ic picture that must be taken into con-
 also knows something of the pressures                                                                      said, even if speculators do
                                                         sideration. Markets are all integrated,            impact markets, it’s quite a
 on the small businessman, having oper-                  and success in any single commodity
 ated a consulting business in bioenergy,                                                                   trick to design a policy that
                                                         has less to do with the specific com-
 a real estate development company                                                                          addresses that impact without
                                                         modity than a whole host of variables,
 and a company that helped people sell                                                                      imposing an even bigger cost.
                                                         including what’s happening to the
 products on eBay.                                       Japanese yen versus the Argentinean                   “I don’t think they drive
    Reviewing a list of Fortenbery’s aca-                peso versus what the crop looks like in            prices over the long run. I still
 demic publications over the last several                Australia versus Ukraine, etc.                     think market fundamentals
 years reveals he’ll have a definite shift                  Nevertheless, Fortenbery also be-               matter more over the longer
 of emphasis from Wisconsin to Eastern                   lieves there are some basics that always           term, but in the short run, they
 Washington. For instance, he is not                     apply. Like a farmer knowing his cost of           will move prices,” he said.
 likely to conduct another evaluation of                 production.                                           And that isn’t necessarily a
 the price linkage between the futures
                                                           “There are going to be times when                bad thing for growers who can
 and cash markets of cheddar cheese or
                                                         the market isn’t rewarding you for your            take advantage of the swings.
 fluid milk. The effect of ethanol produc-
                                                         efforts, and it will be about minimizing           Of course, as Fortenbery put
 tion on corn prices is also in his rear
                                                         losses rather than maximizing profits.             in, care is required in exercis-
 view mirror, not to mention soybean
                                                         I’m not saying you should know it in               ing those opportunities “and
 and sugar analysis.
                                                         the context of a marketing plan, but               not thinking we know where
   On the other hand, his core expertise                 anybody who owns a business should                 that price is going to peak and
 in contracting strategies, forecasting                  have a good idea what it is costing to             holding out for the highest
 prices, currency exchange, second                       produce a crop one season over another             price.”
 generation biofuel analysis and federal                 in order to evaluate how they are do-
 programs, will hold him in good stead                   ing,” he said.

                                                                                           WGC REPORTS      WL

                  Researchers go to pot!
                                          (In search of wheat secrets)
Coleoptile is key to success
in 8- to 12-inch rainfall region
  Everyone knows it’s hard to fool Mother Nature,
but with enough work and determination, a team of
wheat researchers are discovering you can imitate
  Washington State University Research
Agronomist Bill Schillinger, along with two agri-
cultural research technicians at the WSU Dryland
Research Station near Lind, have spent the last five
years attempting to mimic, in seven-inch-tall pots,
what Mother Nature accomplishes with ease on
several million acres across Eastern Washington.
Specifically, they are duplicating the deep seeding
conditions of winter wheat in the eight-to-12-inch
rainfall zone.
   It is not as easy as you might think. With $54,000
worth of annual funding from the Washington
Grain Commission, Schillinger and technicians Tim
Smith and Steve Schofstoll have spent years in pur-
suit of just the right steps and necessary ingredients
to ensure success. After much trial and error, the
trio believe they’ve hit upon a near perfect combina-
tion of operations necessary to evaluate what hap-
pens when a wheat seed germinates and emerges
under deep furrow planting conditions.
  For those unfamiliar with deep furrow planting,
there are several things to know. First, in the dry
dryland region of Eastern Washington, it’s so dry
farmers only take one crop off their land every two
years. The fallow year allows the land to store ad-
ditional moisture. The second thing to know is that
no other farmers in the world plant winter wheat as
deep as they do in east central Washington.
  “Scientists are blown away when we give pre-
sentations at conferences. They do a double take.
‘Did I hear you right? Is the wheat seedling actually
emerging through six inches of soil?’ You see why
                                                                         Creating the right conditions
we’re on our own out here. No one else is facing
                                                                         to test a wheat plant’s coleop-
planting conditions like this,” Schillinger said.                        tiles requires precise measure-
  Anybody who has a garden knows that planting a                         ments. Steve Schofstoll weighs
                                                                         the base layer of soil before it
seed six inches under the earth is a death
                                                                         is compressed to 200 psi.

           Text and photos by Scott A. Yates
                                                                                     WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011   63

      Creating just the right mois-
      ture level to imitate deep fur-
      row planting in the dry sum-
      mer fallow region takes some
      doing. Tim Smith handles
      the hydration chore using a
      sprayer and a cement mixer as
      Steve Schofstoll watches. Both
      are technicians working for
      Washington State University
      Agronomist Bill Schillinger (in
      the background.)

 sentence for that seed. It may germi-     crop, both of which reduced poten-                 most overnight by all farmers in the
 nate there in the dark, but its shoot     tial yield.                                        low rainfall region. Schillinger, who
 will never break the surface. So,           Introduced in 1965 by Bob                        grew up on a farm 20 miles from the
 how are wheat farmers in Douglas,         Zimmerman of Almira, Wash., the                    Lind Station, laughs when he recalls
 Adams, Franklin, Benton and parts         HZ was a technology adopted al-                    that his father almost never bought
 of other counties accomplishing the                                                          new equipment—but he bought a set
 impossible?                                                                                  of new HZ drills.
   There are a couple of explanations.                                                          “All of the sudden, farmers who
 First is the wheat seedling’s amaz-                                                          frequently had to wait until mid to
 ing coleoptile. This is the thin sheath                                                      late October to plant with moisture,
 that surrounds the emerging first                                                            could go deep enough to plant into
 leaf of the plant. The coleoptile is                                                         carryover water in late August or
 what pushes out of the seed toward                                                           early September,” he said.
 the surface. Different varieties of                                                            But the HZ and 150 needed a
 wheat have different length cole-                                                            winter wheat variety with a long
 optiles, and it’s that length which                                                          coleoptile, and by 1965, the dwarf
 accounts for 60 to 70 percent of the                                                         genes Rht1 and Rht2, were being
 plant’s push out of the ground.                                                              inserted into varieties. These semi-
   The John Deere HZ and                                                                      dwarf varieties produce more grain
 International 150 deep-furrow drills                                                         versus volume of straw and were
 are another reason farmers are able                                                          very responsive to nitrogen, but re-
 to plant as deep as they do. Before       Washington State University Research Agrono-       ducing the height of the wheat plant
 the HZ and 150, farmers in the low        mist Bill Schillinger has been working for years   correspondingly reduced the length
 rainfall region mostly dusted in their    to develop a better method to measure wheat        of the coleoptile.
                                           coleoptiles. He knows the problem with wheat
 winter wheat or waited until rain fell                                                         The HZ and 150 drills needed a
                                           emergence very personally. His father farmed
 in mid-October or later to plant their    about 20 miles from the Lind station.              partner—a variety that emerged

                                                                                                                     WGC REPORTS        WL
well from deep depths. Moro, a 1966 club wheat release
out of Oregon State University, fit the bill. Another variety,
Buchanan, a hard red winter from WSU at Lind, came
along in 1989. Neither has the semi-dwarf gene.
  That’s the history. The future is taking place inside a
portion of the Lind Station greenhouse that’s been con-
verted into a soils lab. There, Smith, who works full time
with Schillinger and is also a full-time wheat grower, and
Schofstoll who is also a minister of a Lind church, are
looking for the coleoptile that has it all: length, speed and
  Kulvinder Gill, who holds the Vogel Endowed Chair in
Wheat Breeding and Genetics at WSU, and post-doctoral
scholar, Amita Mohan, have been crucial partners in the
search for the model emerger, not to mention breeding
that trait into a semi-dwarf line. Gill has already bred the
coleoptile trait from Buchanan into Xerpha. Schillinger
confirms pot research shows the tweaked Xerpha emerges
as fast as Buchanan. Gill and Mohan have also provided
Schillinger’s team with 690 different wheat lines from
around the world for the express purpose of testing how
they emerge from deep planting depths.
  “Imagine 50 seeds of 690 lines with four replications,”
Schillinger said, noting that during field trials every
person in Gill’s and Schillinger’s program was in the field
to see if and when each of the 138,000 seeds emerged. This
was done every day for six to eleven days after planting.
   But the hard work paid off. One line, #368, consistently
emerges better than all the rest, coming up a day or even            The amount of moisture in the soil and the length, strength and
two days before Moro and Buchanan, both in the field                 speed of the coleoptile all determine whether a wheat plant will
and in pot experiments. Speed is important because it                be able to push up through five inches of dry soil. Technician
could spell the difference between having to replant or              Steve Schofstoll looks over a recent experiment. Eight seeds are
not. That’s because the quicker a plant emerges, the less            planted in each pot. Only the strong survive.

likely it will be subject to a crusting rain—the equivalent
of a metal plate blocking the wheat plant’s emergence into
the sun. Gill is now in the process of breeding the #368         Both enable bigger heads, larger root systems and stronger
emergence trait into a more modern variety.                      stems while reducing height. That’s Gill’s goal for wheat.
  A separate project Gill is working on independently of           Whichever approach works, the development of a wheat
Schillinger’s team is being funded by a $1.6 million grant       variety with longer coleoptiles will mean more money in
through the National Science Foundation in partnership           farmers’ pockets and require less work as a result of not
with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Called the             having to re-seed as often. It may even mean farmers will
BREAD grant, for “Basic Research to Enable Agricultural          be able to mine moisture deeper than the six inches they
Development” it addresses coleoptile length using a dif-         prospect today (eight inches in the Horse Heaven Hills).
ferent mechanism. Here, Gill’s goal is to introduce a novel        Schillinger is hopeful an HZ and 150 replacement
dwarfing trait into wheat.                                       deep-furrow drill, which is under development on several
  Although semi-dwarf wheat varieties have made farm-            different fronts by several different designers, will permit
ers millions of dollars since the first one, Gaines, was         farmers to avoid the frustration that comes when they take
introduced in 1961, Gill believes the Rht1 and Rht2 genes        all of the depth stops out of the current configuration and
may come with a yield penalty. Sorghum employs a differ-         are still a half inch from moisture.
ent mechanism of dwarfing that’s been used for decades             “We’re thinking with really big packer wheels we are
in commercial production, and similar mutants have been          going to create killer furrows, and hopefully, we can go
identified in corn, though not widely used commercially.         even deeper,” he said

                                                                                                               WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011    65

 How do those
 coleoptiles do it?
   Drop a non-farmer into a fallow field of
 Shano silt loam, a soil that in August is as
 dry and fine as talcum powder, and his first
 question may be, “How can anything grow
 in this?”
   The key, however, is not about getting
 wheat to grow in it, but rather, through it.        Look closely and you can see the joint where the coleoptiles ends and the first leaf begins. In
                                                     most instances, it is actually the first leaf that pokes its way through the soil—propelled by the
 At least through those top five inches which        coleoptile.
 serve as an insulation blanket to the moisture
 concealed below.                                                        higher or lower depending on their experiment. Again, 525
                                                                         grams of soil is compressed to 200 psi.
   Tim Smith and Steve Schofstoll, technicians working
 under Washington State University Research Agronomist                     The seed is planted at this point, but again, after trial
 Bill Schillinger, have spent the last five years devising a             and error, it was determined that some help was needed.
 method that will allow them to evaluate more precisely                  Schillinger believes the hydraulic press glazes the surface
 how winter wheat plants find their way through one of                   of the soil making it difficult for the roots to get started. As
 the most inhospitable environments in the world. On a                   a result, the roots grow outward along the surface, rather
 recent February day, the pair demonstrated the method                   than down.
 that allows them to evaluate the length, speed and power                  Various methods to overcome this glitch were tested. In
 of coleoptiles.                                                         the end, the pair solved the problem by using a putty knife
    A part of the wheat plant that few know how to pro-                  to cut four pie-like slices into the moist soil at the bottom
 nounce (co-lee-op-tile), let alone appreciate, the coleoptile is        of the pot to duplicate the natural fractures which occur in
 like a booster rocket that allows a space craft to obtain the           a soil profile. Eight seeds are planted in these factures. In
 velocity necessary to escape earth’s gravity. Booster failure?          order to get good seed to soil contact, the pair use a preci-
 No orbit. Coleoptile failure? No plant. It’s that simple.               sion planting device—the eraser portion of a mechanical
                                                                         pencil—to press the seed to the proper depth.
   Smith and Schofstoll start by stockpiling several tons of
 dry soil from the Lind Station to use as inventory during                 Next comes a one-inch layer of slightly lower moisture
 the year. The first step in the pot making process is hydrat-           soil that is not packed to duplicate what falls back onto
 ing the soil to a level they want to evaluate. Through ex-              the seed during the field planting process. It provides an
 tensive trial and error the technicians have come up with a             interface between the seed and the five inches of dry soil
 system which includes a “reserve layer” of about 15 percent             that is then poured in up to the brim of the container. And
 moisture. This is more than what is found in a field, but it            there you have conditions in a pot intended to mimic those
 also serves as the stand-in for six feet of soil profile.               that are found across a wide swath of Eastern Washington
                                                                         wheat ground.
    The hydration is accomplished by putting the soil in a
 cement mixer and misting in a prescribed amount of water                  Depending on the strength, speed and the length of a
 with a sprayer. Clods are screened and a sample is taken to             variety’s coleoptile—not to mention the amount of mois-
 ensure the moisture level is appropriate. A precise mea-                ture added to the soil—the plant either breaks the surface
 surement of moist soil, 525 grams, is added to the pot, then            or runs out of gas and dies. Thirteen percent moisture is
 it’s over to a hydraulic press. Here, the soil is compacted             almost a guarantee of success. Anything below 10 percent
 to 200 psi, or about the density found in the field below               in the base layer usually fails.
 the depth of seed placement. This reserve level is one inch               In a field, a grower can expect that about 50 percent of
 thick and hard enough that pushing a finger into it barely              his seeds will germinate and emerge out of the ground.
 leaves a dent.                                                          That’s close to the experience Smith and Schofstoll are hav-
   The next step is forming a base layer at the moisture level           ing in their pots.
 found at depth of seed placement in the field—between 10                  “We’re not mimicking nature perfectly, but we’re pretty
 to 12 percent, although Smith and Schofstoll sometimes go               close,” Smith said.

                                                                                                             WGC REPORTS     WL


isn’t always

                                          Doug Engle                                   Craig Morris

                                          (WWQL) in Pullman, Wash., is gaining in popularity. There was more atten-
                                          dance this year than at any time since the group formed in 1995.
                                            The founding premise of the WQC is straightforward. By establishing a
                                          technical committee of volunteer collaborators, the council solicits and evaluates
                                          advanced generation wheat breeding lines from all breeding companies, provid-
How wheat lines perform for end           ing feedback on individual breeding lines and more general information as to
users is just as important as yield       the technical requirements of wheat end users.

                    By Dana Herron           The job for Doug Engle begins early in the season. Doug is responsible for
                                          contacting the breeders in the western U.S. from both the public and private
                       Wheat farm-
                                          sectors to solicit the advanced lines they have scheduled for release. Samples of
                    ers live for yield.
                                          these lines are milled at the WWQL where they are judged on their milling per-
                    There’s nothing
                                          formance. These scores are important because they give a very specific indica-
                    like that July day
                                          tion of how the individual lines will perform in a commercial mill. Cumulative
                    they cut their
                                          ash curves are measured and break flour yield is calculated on each line.
                    combine into a
                    field and discover      The flour is subsequently sent to the cooperating companies that have agreed
                    what their eyes       to serve as the WQC’s technical advisory committee. These companies evalu-
have perceived. A bumper crop and         ate flour quality and conduct bake tests at their facilities. The hard wheats are
a big payday is theirs.                   evaluated for specific uses, primarily pan breads and cakes. The soft wheats are
                                          evaluated for their performance as cookies, sponge cakes and noodles. These
  And yet, emphasizing yield over
                                          evaluations and testing procedures have been standardized by the American
all other factors is a very dangerous
                                          Association of Cereal Chemists International.
way for farmers to think about the
wheat we produce. In fact, it may be        Not all of the participants do all of the tests because many times the coop-
the equivalent of financial suicide.      erator specializes in certain product lines, like bread or pancakes. One thing I
                                          learned is that a sticky pancake can be a pain in the pan.
  This reality was brought home to
me at the Pacific Northwest Wheat           While you might think that varieties within specific classes are pretty close to
Quality Council (WQC) meeting             equal, that is far from the case. The fact is wheat performance between individ-
held recently in Seattle. The group is    ual varieties varies widely. How would you like a pancake that simply will not
a non-profit organization comprised       come out of the pan, or a loaf of bread that takes twice as long to mix and can
of wheat breeders, cereal chemists,       only be used as a doorstop after you bake it? Or what about a bread that dis-
producers, marketers, inspectors,         integrates when you try to put peanut butter on it or a noodle with such a dark
processors and users of wheat.            color that consumers turn up their noses at it, not to mention a cookie that’s flat,
The meeting, organized by Doug            thin and has the texture of a sun-baked desert? This is the reason the industry
Engle and Craig Morris from the           has established end-use quality targets for the performance of wheat varieties
U.S. Department of Agriculture’s          by class.
Western Wheat Quality Lab                   It’s also why a 200-bushel-per-acre wheat with very low end-use quality is

                                                                                                        WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011    67
                                                                    Feb. 3, 2011 PRESS RELEASE
                                                                    Contact: Tom Mick
 a dangerous thing. Some grain buyers will argue the cus-           Egyptian protests potentially
 tomer doesn’t ever get a single variety; they purchase a           imperil PNW wheat exports
 blended product so there is no apparent harm in promoting a
                                                                       Eastern Washington wheat growers are watching events un-
 200-bushel yield monster. That may be fine when the percent-       fold in Egypt as if their livelihood depended on the outcome—
 age of production is low, but when enough people begin to          and it does. The country imports 10 million metric tons of wheat
 produce the 200-bushel-per-acre variety, the aggregate mar-        annually, and the Northwest has been a large supplier in most
 ket class is affected negatively.                                  of the last 10 years.
   We can no longer compete in the world market on the basis           Nat Webb, chairman of the Washington Grain Commission, is
 of price alone. Our salvation has been and will continue to        particularly concerned over what the next government in Egypt
 be the quality of our wheat. Because we are dependent on           will look like. He clearly remembers what happened when the
 exports for market access, we will certainly have to compete       Iranian revolution took place
 on the basis of value, and value is the result of producing a      in 1979: the market for soft
 wheat with a high degree of functionality.                         white wheat grown in the
                                                                    Pacific Northwest went from a
    The university and private wheat breeding companies that        million tons a year to nothing.
 were represented at the conference encompassed virtually
                                                                      “An Egyptian government
 all of the public and private entities that are actively engaged   unfriendly to the U.S. could
 in releasing varieties in the Pacific Northwest. With feedback     have a direct impact on our
 from the processing and manufacturing industry, breeders           wheat sales, not only because
 establish benchmarks and quality targets for their respec-         Egypt is a large customer,
 tive breeding programs. An issue the industry must address,        but also because a lot of
 however, is the fact that, unlike university breeders, no man-     commerce for the region
 date for compliance with the quality targets currently exists      passes through the Egyptian-    Randy Suess talks to the media.
 for private companies. They are free to distribute varieties       controlled Suez Canal. A
 with little or no functional quality.                              worse case situation would be what occurred in Iran,” he said.

    The value of the collaboration seen at the WQC translates          The Middle East region imports 34 percent of its domestic
                                                                    wheat needs and consumes 15 percent of the world’s wheat
 directly to the farm gate price received by farmers. For exam-
                                                                    imports. With revolutionary fervor spreading to other countries,
 ple, when a wheat variety is grown in an area of high rainfall
                                                                    the potential changes in the world wheat market are enormous,
 or irrigation, it will typically have a higher total ash content   Webb said. He particularly cited Yemen, where protests have
 because of the minerals in the water. High ash translates          also occurred. The country on the Arabian Peninsula consis-
 directly to lower flour extraction rates. The millers and bakers   tently imports 12 percent of the Pacific Northwest’s soft white
 have been watching their profit centers long enough to know        wheat crop. More than 850,000 metric tons of soft white wheat
 where varieties are grown that make their specific product         from Washington, Oregon and Idaho has moved to Egypt and
 best. A 1 or 2 percent higher extraction rate may not seem         Yemen so far this year.
 like a lot, but when you mill millions of bushels of wheat it        “Given this year’s average price, that’s nearly $200 million,”
 amounts to millions of dollars of profit or loss.                  Webb said.
   Domestic and foreign buyers alike know where these cher-            Tom Mick, chief executive officer of the WGC, said the
 ries are in the marketplace when it comes to functionality,        Egyptian protests prove once again that world events have the
 and they will pick them. While farmers seldom see the price        potential to dramatically impact the applecart of wheat produc-
 differences, these companies’ preferences are often reflected      tion in Eastern Washington.
 in their bids to the country.                                         “We are not an island,” he said. “We are part of an intricate
   If there was an award for the unsung hero of the Pacific         system that moves almost like an organism. Poke it in one place
 Northwest wheat industry, those who work to coordinate             and you’ll get a reaction somewhere else.”
 and host the Wheat Quality Council, not to mention those              Recent reports indicate the Egyptian wheat market is con-
 who take the time out of busy schedules to attend, would all       tinuing to function as normal, with ships arriving at ports and
 be deserving of the prize. They are serving the industry by        being unloaded on schedule. Mick is hopeful that will continue,
 acting as our resident quality assurance consultants, a sort of    but he remains fearful that riots could damage grain infrastruc-
                                                                    ture and make food shortages even worse.
 Underwriters Laboratory of the wheat industry. By evaluat-
 ing how the wheat we produce will perform before it enters            Not all is doom and gloom, however. Webb said it’s possible
 the market place, they help us expand our market share in a        the region’s current difficulties could wind up encouraging
 world that is increasingly discriminating about the quality of     countries to increase their wheat imports as a way of bringing
                                                                    food prices down. This would satisfy at least one of the protest-
 their food ingredients.
                                                                    ers’ grievances.

                                                                                                        WGC REPORTS      WL

                                                                                                  AMR ABDALLAH DALSH/REUTERS
An Egyptian man carries bread from a bakery in Cairo.

Egypt puts WGC in the headlines
  Making an international story relevant to a local audi-    consistently imports 12 percent of the Pacific Northwest’s
ence is an important goal of the media. The Washington       soft white wheat crop. How the governments of these
Grain Commission was able to help a variety of news          countries react to the demonstrations taking place has the
outlets broker this connection as turmoil consumed Egypt.    potential to directly affect Eastern Washington farmers’
   Although the demonstrations were taking place half        bottom lines.
a world away, the WGC issued a press release explain-          Tom Mick, chief executive officer of the WGC, spent sev-
ing how the tumult had the potential to upset Northwest      eral hours on the telephone after news outlets learned of
and U.S. grain markets. Egypt is the world’s largest wheat   the importance of the Egyptian market to Northwest grain
importer—taking 9.8 million metric tons this year to feed    growers. He conducted a dozen radio interviews, four
its 80 million people, most at subsidized prices.            newspaper interviews and one television interview.
  For the last two years, the country has been getting the     Randy Suess, a WGC commissioner from Whitman
majority of its wheat from Russia, but drought there last    County and vice-chairman of U.S. Wheat Associates,
summer resulted in increased sales from the U.S., includ-    conducted an interview with CBS National News Radio.
ing the Pacific Northwest. And it’s not just Egypt that is   Dana Herron, who also serves on the commission, sat
the focus of concern. The Middle East imports 34 percent     for an interview with a Tri-City television station. “These
of its domestic wheat needs and consumes fully 15 percent    opportunities don’t come along very often, and when
of the world’s wheat imports.                                they do, we need to be prepared to educate listeners to the
  Yemen, which has also seen rioting this year as its peo-   importance of the Eastern Washington wheat crop on the
ple react in sympathy to news out of Tunisia and Egypt,      world stage,” Mick said.

                                                                                                   WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011   69
                                           STEM RUST AND THE BARBERRY PLANT BREW A LETHAL COMBINATION
                                                            By Tim Murray, Xianming Chen and Diana Roberts

T    here are three different types of rust on wheat: stripe,
     leaf and stem. Any Eastern Washington farmer knows
 that stripe rust is his main antagonist, so what’s with all
 the hubbub over stem rust, a disease that typically doesn’t
                                                                  ornamental plant that was introduced across the United
                                                                  States by settlers, the barberry is an essential ingredient
                                                                  in the complicated life of the stem rust fungus, Puccinia
                                                                  graminis f. sp. tritici, which for simplicity sake, is referred
 cause widespread damage in the Northwest because it’s            to as Pgt.
 ordinarily too dry and temperatures are too cool for opti-         In addition to wheat or barley, Pgt requires the common
 mal disease development?                                         barberry (not to be confused with the cultivated Japanese
    There are a couple of answers to that question. First,        barberry, which is resistant) to complete its life cycle.
 epidemics do occur in localized fields and cause signifi-        Although the rusty red spores on wheat and barley are the
 cant damage in some years. For instance, in 2007, two            most obvious and damaging stage of the disease, the cycle
 fields of spring barley with severe stem rust were identi-       of Pgt begins on the innocuous evergreen garden shrub.
 fied in Stevens and Whitman counties and resulted in               As the wheat plant is maturing and/or dying from
 significant yield loss (more than 6 percent in the Stevens       stem rust, Pgt enters into a black-colored spore stage that
 County field). The second reason for concern is because,         enables it to survive the winter —much like a seed. This
 although the Pacific Northwest may not be ground zero            stage also inspires the other common disease name —
 for stem rust infection, it has been shown to be an incuba-      black stem rust. The black spores lie dormant in the wheat
 tor for infections that can not only transmit the disease to     straw during winter and germinate in spring to produce
 fields as far away as Minnesota, but can actually produce        another type of spore that is carried by wind to nearby
 new races of the stem rust fungus. In other words, the           barberry bushes.
 Northwest could create a homegrown Ug99.
                                                                    There, the spores penetrate leaves and fruit and produce
     How is that possible? Ask the common barberry. An

                                                                                                                                WGC REPORTS        WL
a structure not visible to the naked
eye in which the fungus undergoes
sexual reproduction, resulting in
producing pinkish-colored spores.
These spores are visible on infected
barberries and are carried by wind
relatively short distances to wheat
or barley plants where they infect
and begin producing the red-colored
spores. The reddish spores are
produced as long as conditions are
favorable and can spread thousands
of miles to infect wheat and bar-
ley plants and start another cycle.
Multiple cycles can occur during the
season, leading to greater damage.
   The closer barberry is to a field,
the earlier stem rust begins in the
growing season. An earlier start for
the rust results in more cycles of                 Starting in 1944, Washington State saw more than 200,000 barberry bushes taken from more than
disease and greater damage. Sexual                 12,000 properties, mostly in Spokane and Whitman counties.
reproduction on the barberry also
results in more races of the stem rust             producing states with the goal of                     Despite the extensive eradication
fungus; more races make it more dif-               reducing the development of new                     effort in Washington, however, the
ficult to breed varieties with effective           rust races on barberry and delaying                 barberry was not completely elimi-
and durable resistance. By removing                the onset of stem rust epidemics. The               nated, and it has made a comeback
the barberry from this love triangle,              eradication program was a resound-                  in some areas, which is why stem

the impact of stem rust is reduced,                ing success, and as a result, three                 rust continues to occur sporadically.

which was the rationale for a 63-year              or fewer stem rust races have been                         hen stem rust occurs, samples
national effort to eradicate barberry              found east of the Rocky Mountains                          are collected and sent to the
                                                   in the last 10 years.

bushes.                                                                                                USDA-ARS Cereal Disease Lab in St.

B    eginning in 1918 and con-                       Washington State became one of                    Paul, Minn., for analysis where Dr.
     tinuing until 1981, more than                 the states slated for the eradication               Yue Jin, of the U.S. Department of
400 million barberry bushes were                   effort in 1944, and more than 200,000               Agriculture Cereal Disease Lab and
eradicated from 13 northern wheat-                 bushes were taken from more than                    the foremost stem rust expert in the
                                                                          12,000 proper-               nation, determines which races of
                                                                          ties when the                the stem rust fungus are present.
                                                                          program ended,                 A race is a strain of the stem rust
                                                                          most in Spokane              fungus that is able to infect different
                                                                          and Whitman                  wheat or barley varieties. Races are
                                                                          counties. Idaho              similar to strains of flu viruses—each
                                                                          and Oregon did               year different combinations of flu vi-
                                                                          not officially               rus genes combine in different ways
                                                                          join the barberry            to create new strains able to over-
                                                                          eradication                  come immunity in people exposed
                                                                          program, but                 to other strains of the flu. In plants,
                                                                          there were lim-              the ability of a race to infect a specific
                                                                          ited eradication             variety depends on which resistance
                                                                          efforts in both              genes the variety contains and which
                                                                          states.                      “virulence” genes the race contains.
Red spores on wheat and barley are the most obvious and damaging stage                                   Since virulence genes enable
of stem rust.

                                                                                                                           WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011   71

                                                                                                      PNW, demonstrating that the spread
                                                                                                      of stem rust from the PNW to the
                                                                                                      Great Plains is possible.
                                                                                                        Based on new information and
                                                                                                      the concern over the diversity of
                                                                                                      races found recently in the PNW, a
                                                                                                      decision has been made to revisit the
                                                                                                      barberry situation and more closely
                                                                                                      monitor stem rust races to better
                                                                                                      understand the risks. In the past
                                                                                                      three years, historical records and
                                                                                                      reports of stem rust outbreaks have
                                                                                                      been used to look for barberries. So
                                                                                                      far, more than 20 locations have been
                                                                                                      identified where barberries are pres-
                                                                                                      ent in Whitman, Stevens and Latah
                                                                                                      counties. And that is barely scratch-
                                                                                                      ing the surface.
                                                                                                         With funding from USDA-APHIS,
                                                                                                      the PNW Barberry working group
                                                                                                      has been formed consisting of state
 Pinkish-colored spores are visible on barberries infected by the stem rust fungus. Eventually, the   and federal scientists and extension
 spores are carried by wind to nearby wheat or barley plants where they infect the grains and begin
                                                                                                      personnel from Idaho, Montana,
 producing the red-colored spores.
                                                                                                      Oregon and Washington to investi-
 the stem rust fungus to overcome resistance genes in the plant, a race with                          gate reports of stem rust and barber-
 virulence gene one is able to cause disease on varieties with resistance gene one.                   ries and to educate those working in
 Breeders take advantage of this situation by creating new combinations of resis-                     the wheat and barley industry about
 tance genes so the stem rust fungus cannot cause disease. Unfortunately, there                       this forgotten foe. The goal is to
 are as many virulence genes as there are resistance genes, and the barberry is                       continue identifying new outbreaks
 Mother Nature’s breeder for the stem rust fungus, assembling new combina-                            of stem rust so we can monitor
 tions of virulence genes.                                                                            the race situation and try to locate
                                                                                                      barberries so landowners are aware
   In the 2007 outbreak in the two barley fields in Eastern Washington, more                          of their presence and can eradicate
 than 16 distinct races were found. Of great concern was race QCCL (#9) with                          them. You can help with this work
 virulence to stem rust resistance gene 24 (Sr24). Virulence to Sr24 had only been                    by contacting us if you suspect stem
 found once before in North America, and it is one of the virulence genes in a                        rust or barberry.
 new race evolved from Ug99 that is of concern because this resistance gene has
 been used widely in breeding programs around the world.                                                More information is available at
   In addition to the race virulent to Sr24, some Washington races had other
 virulence genes in common with Ug99, which are not present in the Western
                                                                                                      Dr. Tim Murray is a professor in the
 Hemisphere. It is these shared virulence genes and presence of the barberry
                                                                                                      Department of Plant Pathology at
 that raises concern for the potential to produce a “homegrown” Ug99 that could
                                                                                                      Washington State University,
 spread from the PNW to other wheat-producing areas of the North America.
                                                                                                      Xianming Chen is plant pathologist
 When the stem rust fungus reproduces on barberry, it’s like shuffling a deck
                                                                                                      and rust expert at the U.S. Department
 of cards, and the virulence genes form many new combinations. It’s the many
                                                                                                      of Agriculture Agricultural Research
 different “hands” dealt to these races that makes breeding resistant wheat and
                                                                                                      Service in Pullman and Diana Roberts is

 barley varieties difficult.
                                                                                                      a WSU extension agronomist based in

 U    ntil recently it was thought that the red stem rust spores spread only with-
      in the region. However, stem rust spores produced in the PNW can spread
 to other regions. For example, in 1989 race QCCJ was discovered in Filmore

 County, Minn. The disease lab in St. Paul concluded that QCCJ originated in the

                                                                                                                       WGC REPORTS        WL

Ancient disease becomes present-day threat
S   tem rust of wheat and barley is a disease whose
    impacts are mentioned in the Bible. In the first half of
the 20th century, stem rust was one of the most important
plant diseases worldwide. The northern Great Plains of
the U.S. and Prairie Provinces of Canada were the most
seriously affected areas in North America owing to their
favorable climate. Damaging epidemics in spring wheat
were frequent from the late 1800s into the 1950s. Total
yield losses due to stem rust in Minnesota, North Dakota
and South Dakota were estimated at more than 100 mil-
lion bushels in 1935 and more than 150 million bushels,
combined between 1953 and 1954; that represents nearly
$3.7 billion in lost production (adjusted to 2009 dollars) in
those three seasons alone (Fig. 1).
  Stem rust was also a major problem in other parts of
the world including Mexico, Australia, Africa and parts
of Asia. Norman Borlaug, father of the green revolution          Fig 1. Damaging stem rust epidemics in spring wheat were frequent
and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, was hired by the         from the late 1800s into the 1950s. North Dakota and South Dakota had
Rockefeller Foundation to work in Mexico on stem rust of         estimated losses at more than 100 million bushels in 1935 and more than
                                                                 150 million bushels, combined between 1953 and 1954; that represents
wheat. The organization he worked for eventually became
                                                                 nearly $3.7 billion in lost production (adjusted to 2009 dollars) in those
the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center             three seasons alone.
(CIMMYT), and Borlaug’s impact in controlling rust dis-
eases spread to other parts of the world.
   Stem rust was ultimately brought under control using
an integrated approach of growing varieties with effective
disease resistance and earlier maturity, combined with
near-eradication of common barberry, the alternate host of
stem rust. As a result of these practices, the last major epi-
demic of stem rust in the U.S. occurred in 1955, and stem
rust’s impact during the second half of the 20th century
was relatively small. This feeling of security led to a sense
of complacency that stem rust was no longer a threat—that
is until 1999.
   That year, a new strain of the stem rust fungus was
discovered in Uganda, causing disease on previously
resistant wheat varieties, hence Ug99. Since then, Ug99 has
evolved new, related races that have spread within eastern
Africa, across the Red Sea into Yemen and into Iran (Fig. 2).
Of great concern is the fact that Ug99 and its relatives are     Fig. 2. Since 1999, Ug99 has evolved new, related races that have spread
able to infect over 80 percent of the world’s wheat varieties.   within eastern Africa, across the Red Sea into Yemen and into Iran
Initially, there was great concern that Ug99 or its relatives
would spread to the U.S. through natural pathways and            response on the part of breeders and pathologists to con-
threaten wheat and barley production. Scientists have            front this new threat. In addition to increased emphasis
since concluded that the risk of natural spread is very low,     on developing varieties with effective disease resistance,
but that human-mediated spread via air travel is a high          there is increased emphasis on monitoring stem rust out-
risk for introduction.                                           breaks in the U.S. for the appearance of new races, Ug99 or
  The discovery of Ug99 and realization that it has the          otherwise.
potential to cause widespread damage stimulated a global

                                                                                                                  WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011       73
 WIDE WORLD OF WHEAT                                                                      rising vegetable prices are not his affair. Sharad Pawar said the
                                                                                          decision to plant a particular vegetable crop is made by the
                                                                                          farmers at the local level and the hike in their prices is a local
                                                                                          matter. India is undergoing a massive onion crisis as a result of
                                                                                          unseasonable rains which laid 70 percent of the crop to waste.
                                                                                          Floods and earthquakes notwithstanding, PAKISTAN is

                                                                MIKHAIL METZEL/AP PHOTO
                                                                                          pegging its 2010/2011 wheat crop to be as much as 23.5 mil-
                                                                                          lion metric tons, short of its 25 mmt target, but still enough to
                                                                                          export surplus. Although last year’s floods devastated large
                                                                                          areas of farmland, it also increased fertility in wheat growing
                                                                                          areas, said an official of the food ministry. Pakistan is Asia’s
                                                                                          third largest wheat producer. The country consumes about 22
 Officials in RUSSIA are upbeat about the coming year’s
                                                                                          mmt annually.
 wheat crop, claiming they’ll bin 45 million tons, which is about
 3.5 mmt tons more than they harvested during the drought-
 plagued 2010 harvest. Alexander Korbut, vice-president of the
 Moscow-based Grain Union, said the government will be ready
 to resume exports around October. Russia banned exports last
 year after the 2010 grain harvest fell by 37 percent from the
 preceding year due to the worst drought in half a century.
 Governments of the Middle East are carefully watching unfold-
 ing events in Tunisia and Egypt and do not plan on adding to
 their woes by increasing food costs. ALGERIA, for one, has
 sped up its purchase of wheat to avoid shortages. The country
 already experienced several days of rioting triggered by rising
 food prices. As a result, Algeria’s government cut the cost of
 some food and has increased the amount of soft wheat it sup-                             Quinoa Real grown near Uyuni on the Bolivian Altiplano (3653 meters).
 plies local markets by 18 percent each month.                                            Mt. Tunupa is in the background

 Total U.S. wheat exports to BRAzIL exceeded 400,000                                      U.S. wheat farmers are experimenting with quinoa, a staple
 metric tons, boosting U.S. imports to their second highest level                         of the ancient Inca civilization, but it’s the high altitude plains
 in eight years. Alas, none of the wheat is from the Northwest.                           of BOLIVIA that are really getting a boost from the popu-
 Distance is one                                                                          larity of the high protein, high iron crop. In a sandy and arid
 problem. The other                                                                       area known as the altiplano about two miles above sea level,
 is Brazil’s ban on TCK                                                                   American demand for the quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is
 Smut. Although a U.S.                                                                    changing farmers’ lives. A few years ago, 16 ounces of Andean
 government study                                                                         Natural quinoa retailed for $2 at Trader Joe’s. It’s now $4 and
 determined the dis-                                                                      the price keeps climbing, making it harder for the indigenous
 ease could never gain                                                                    people of Bolivia to afford their popular breakfast.
 a foothold in Brazil,
                                                                                          A couple of months ago, the JAPANESE company Marubeni
 that hasn’t altered
                                                                                          was talking about expanding its Asian reach. Now it’s another
 the country’s ban
                                                                                          Japanese company’s turn. Mitsui & Co Ltd. announced it will
 on wheat from the
                                                                                          acquire another 44.2 percent stake in the Brazilian grain broker,
 Northwest. Among
                                                                                          Multigrain, for $225 million to secure food grain to supply
 other things, TCK
                                                                                          the Asian market. It now owns 88.4 percent of the company.
 needs a snow cycle to
                                                                                          “Mitsui will strive to strengthen agricultural production and
 propagate, something Brazil’s tropical climate doesn’t have.
                                                                                          grain distribution business in Brazil, which has high potential-
 The Agriculture Minister of INDIA said his job is to ensure the                          ity of food supply, and to secure a stable supply of grain from
 country has adequate food grains like wheat and rice and that                            Brazil mainly to Asian markets,” the company release said, add-

ing it wants to strengthen its grain business because the global                              speculation in the grain market. The trading company is being
demand for grain is expected to increase as world population                                  established to help stabilize Korean food prices.
grows.                                                                                        Those long, thin loaves of bread known as a baguette are a
Will this be the year CHINA’S grain production falls? Every                                   symbol of FRENCH culture. No wonder. It’s estimated that
year, it seems, the                                                                           23 million baguettes are consumed every day in the country
Chinese media                                                                                 or eight billion a year. With wheat prices rising, so is the cost of
report of drought                                                                             baguettes. Every 30-euro increase ($40.70) for a ton of wheat
in wheat grow-                                                                                raises the cost of flour in a 250-gram baguette by about one
ing regions of the                                                                            cent. In the last year, wheat futures in Paris have gone from 128
country, but timely                                                                           euros per ton to 251 euros ($340) per ton. Nevertheless, the
rains ultimately                                                                              wheat in a baguette represents less than 10 percent of its cost.
save the crop. As                                                                             INDONESIA, Asia’s second largest wheat importer after
a result, produc-                                                                             Japan, takes about 5.4 million metric tons of wheat annually.

                                                                              REUTERS PHOTO
tion has risen for                                                                            Lately, the country has been hunting for alternative supplies as a
the last six years.                                                                           result of floods in Australia that rendered much of that country’s
This year might                                                                               production unsuitable for milling. Australia usually supplies
be different. The       In China, 71-year-old farmer Qi Aiyun checks on her
                                                                                              at least half of Indonesia’s demand. To help facilitate imports,
                        withered wheat plants.
nation’s three top                                                                            Indonesia announced it is eliminating tariffs on wheat, soybeans
wheat producing regions: Henan, Shandong and Hebei, which                                     and cattle feed. Indonesia has 14 flour mills which can process 7
are responsible for more than half of China’s wheat output,                                   mmt of wheat, up from four mills 10 years ago.
have been suffering from drought for four months. Rainfall
is down more than 80 percent from the annual average, the
                                                                                              SAUDI ARABIA may not be growing wheat anymore—
                                                                                              having depleted their aquifer in the quest to become self
worst since 1970, and dry weather and higher than average
                                                                                              sufficient—but the country is going to be storing wheat—a lot
temperatures are forecast well into spring. The rising price of
                                                                                              of it. The Middle
food is fueling inflation which has a similar effect to increas-
                                                                                              East kingdom,
ing the undervalued Chinese currency, something the U.S. has
                                                                                              which consumes
been calling on China to do administratively.
                                                                                              about 3 mmt of
A paper company in TAIWAN announced it has developed                                          wheat each year,
a technique to make paper from wheat and rice stalks that                                     wants to double
squeezes far more paper out of the same amount of biomass.                                    its current six-
The chairman of Yuen Foong Yu said the company will intro-                                    month reserve.
                                 duce its revolutionary tech-                                 The process is
                                 nology to a plant in China in                                expected to take
                                 2011. The normal wood pulp                                   three years. As                                       GET TY IMAGES
                                 manufacturing process uses                                   part of the plan,     A Saudi combine.
                                 220 pounds of lumber to                                      wheat storage
                                 make 20 kilograms of paper.                                  capacity will be increased by 550,000 metric tons in four cities
                                 Using the new technique,                                     over a 3-year period. The country’s current storage stands at
                                 the same quantity of stalk                                   2.5 mmt.
                                 pulp can reportedly be
                                 turned into four times as
                                                                                              UKRAINE’S agricultural minister has called on the World
                                                                                              Bank and other global institutions to create a grain reserve
                                 much paper.
                                                                                              to smooth out price swings. “We believe these are measures
                                    KOREA is a paragon of                                     that need to be taken to avoid unrest and to avoid fear. What’s
                                    government/private com-                                   necessary is to undertake more steps to avoid this fluctuation,”
pany cooperation and the latest move to set up a U.S.-based                                   said Mykola Prysyazhnyuk.
grain procurement company is one more example of that. Led
                                                                                              Add tiny MOLDOVA to the list of countries that will stop
by the state-run Korea Agro-Fisheries Trade Corp. and joined
                                                                                              exporting wheat amid fears of a food crisis. The country, which
by a consortium of four local companies with grain and food
                                                                                              is located between Romania to the west and Ukraine to the
know-how, the country will establish a grain trading company
                                                                                              north, exported wheat to Italy, Cyprus, Russia, Romania and
in Chicago. The company will import 100,000 tons of grain in                                  Bangladesh last year, but it apparently went overboard. The
its first batch during the second half of 2011 with the expecta-                              agriculture minister said the country currently has 135,000 tons
tion of importing four million tons of grain through the new                                  of wheat in reserve, slightly less than it needs until the 2011
company by 2020. A government official said excessive reliance                                harvest. Agriculture is the main industry of Moldova, which is
on major dealers has made Korea vulnerable to international                                   one of Europe’s poorest countries.

                                                                                                                                           WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011     75
                                                   “I always feel like a member of the
                                                   geriatrics association whenever I’m
                                                   on Capitol Hill.” Eric Maier, WAWG vice-president
                                                   and Ritzville farmer in regards to the mass of young people
                                                   working in congressional offices.

                                                                               “My goal is to turn
                                                                               our NRCS staff from
                                                                              regulators into Maytag
 “I am concerned                                                              repairmen.” NRCS Chief Dave
 by the federal                                                               White in regards to the high amount
 government’s new                                                            of administrative duties regional staff
                                                                            encounter, rather than being in the
 requirement on the                                                         field helping solve problems.
 states to expand the
 Medicaid program.
 This will not only
 threaten the quality
 of care for our most
 vulnerable citizens, it
 will also open a hole
 in Washington State’s
 budget, putting us at
 risk for higher taxes
 and spending cuts in
 other vital programs.”
 U.S. Representative Cathy
 McMorris Rodgers after a meeting
 with Governor Christine Gregoire
 reaffirming their commitment to
                                                                                       the RE AL
 work together in a bipartisan way
                                                   rotect the     RE AL fish in               Act
 to address the health care issue.   “We want to p t the Endangered Species
                                     water. That’s
                                                   wha                                we have been
                                                    s w ith, an   d that’s what                hin a
                                     has charged u t protect computer fish w it
                                       oing. We cann Brett Blankenship, WAWG national leeling data.
                                                                                              gislative chai
                                      computer mo
                                                                                      ter mod
                                                                         heries’ compu
                                                         rd ing NOA A Fis
                                                  na farmer
                                      and Washtuc
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                             WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011   77
                                                                                         at the
              Brit and Wyatt Egbert harvesting at the Cavadini Ranch and helping brand
                                  McKay Ranch, both in Douglas County
                                           photos by Connie McKay

     Your wheat
                Kids at work
                 ...and play!

                                                                                                    Cody Luiten plays flag football for
                                                                                                    his little league team, and his older
                                                                                                   brother, Jeffrey, helps Grandpa with
                                                                                                  the leaves this fall on the family farm
                                                                                                             near Wilbur, Wash.
                                                                                                            photos by Don Bodeau

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