National Media Interest in Wheat Prices, Supply Continues

August 13, 2010 Bookmark and Share

Staff and grower-leaders of NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates continue to field calls from national and international media outlets interested in wheat supplies following last week’s announcement by Russia that it would ban grain exports.

The ban apparently spawned intense interest around the world about wheat supplies and concern about wheat shortages, and many outlets rarely interested in wheat stories are now looking to learn about U.S. growers’ intentions for the coming growing season.

Most reporters who contacted wheat groups this week do not follow regularly agricultural issues and are generally not aware of the abundance of U.S. wheat available to buyers worldwide. Having heard rumors of shortages, many have required reassurance that a world food crisis and the specter of political havoc are not imminent.

Neither NAWG nor U.S. Wheat will undertake interviews that involve wheat market speculation or prediction. However, both organizations see the continuing interest in the wheat market as an opportunity to educate the non-agricultural media and public and dispel myths about the current wheat price and supply situation.

On Tuesday, NAWG President Jerry McReynolds spoke to the million-plus listeners of The Diane Rehm Show from his fields in Kansas to give the producer perspective on wheat exports and prices in the wake of Russia’s ban. Alan Tracy, U.S. Wheat Associates president, was a member of the show’s panel in Washington, D.C., which also included a reporter from The Wall Street Journal and economists from the International Food Policy Research Institute and Purdue University.

McReynolds was in Washington, D.C., later in the week and was also able to record an interview for NPR’s Weekend Edition in the NPR studios. That interview focused on the producer perspective and how growers manage their operations on a daily basis.

This week’s edition of the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate (WASDE) from USDA, out Thursday, showed average U.S. yield and total production up slightly, with exports up more than 20 percent from 1 billion bushels to 1.2 billion bushels (27.2 MMT to 32.7 MMT) and ending stocks down 13 percent from 1.1 billion bushels to 952 million bushels (30 MMT to 26 MMT). But, despite the large jump in exports, the ending stock estimate is still approximately equal to the amount the U.S. exports on average each year.

Around the world, global production is estimated down 2.3 percent, and global ending stocks are estimated down 6.6 percent to 174.8 MMT (6.4 billion bushels). Interestingly, USDA indicates it does not believe that Russia will begin exporting wheat again this marketing year. It calls Russian exports at 3 MMT, down from its forecast of 15 MMT last month, which represents Russian exports so far this year and potentially some contracted exports.

For the full WASDE report, please visit http://www.usda.gov/oce/commodity/wasde/.

A replay of the full Diane Rehm episode about wheat supplies is accessible online at http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2010-08-10/world-wheat-supplies.