The U.S. wheat industry is in the spotlight this week in Cancun, Mexico as the U.S Wheat Associates hosts the Mexico Wheat Trade Conference. Chris Kolstad is U.S. Wheat’s chairman from Ledger, Montana and he said Mexico continues to be a very important market for U.S wheat.
“Mexico has been a good friend of ours for a lot of years,” said Kolstad. “They’re our southern border friend and one of our top five importers of U.S. wheat around the world. So, they’re a very important market for us.”
Mitch Skalicky is U.S. Wheat’s regional vice president in its Mexico City office and he explained why Mexico likes having a trading relationship with the U.S. wheat industry.
“I think they like it because it’s very good quality wheat,” said Skalicky. “It’s a uniform, predictable quality of wheat. It’s close, it’s convenient and it’s easy to receive through various logistical channels both by water meaning boat or by rail.”
Kolstad added export markets are important to the U.S. due to the approximately 50 million metric tons of wheat that is grown every year. He said over half of that amount has to be exported.
“And with 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside of our borders, we have to get to these other countries and sell our wheat. If we only sell within our domestic markets, the prices are going to just go down, down and down and we don’t need that,” he said.
A big factor in continuing the trading relationship could be finalizing the new U.S-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which has hit another speed bump after President Trump announced his intention to impose a five percent tariff on Mexican imports because of illegal immigration. But, Skalicky said the Mexicans remain hopeful a final agreement can be worked out that benefits both countries.
“I think they certainly feel it’s a very challenging time,” said Skalicky. “I think that they’ve been very patient. They’ve been very tolerant. They’ve also been very understanding. I think that they would really like to try to work this out through a series of negotiations if possible.”
The stakes could be high for the U.S. wheat industry in Mexico as other countries could displace the U.S. if a new USMCA isn’t ratified.
In other agriculture news, representatives Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and Collin Peterson (D-MN) led a bipartisan letter to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Principal Deputy Director Margaret Everson expressing strong support for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s proposed rule to delist the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act in the lower 48 United States.
The letter was signed by 34 bipartisan Members of Congress and will be submitted as an official public comment in the Federal Register.
The public comment submission period deadline is July 15, 2019.
Peterson, who’s also the House Agriculture Committee Chairman.
He said, “Scientific research clearly shows that the gray wolf population in this country has recovered and state agencies are better equipped to manage wolf populations and should have been doing so years ago.”
-Reported by Russell Nemetz/MTN News