SPOKANE — Washington Grain Commission board members have approved a $6.33 million budget that’s close to last year’s spending plan.
Commission CEO Glen Squires called the budget “virtually unchanged” from last year’s.
The state’s wheat crop could be comparable to last year, Squires projected. Pockets of Washington are reporting some water shortages, while others are reporting good soil moisture.
Wheat prices appear to have room for growth in light of drought in Australia, questions about dry conditions in Russia and Ukraine and tightening corn supplies, he said.
Soft white wheat ranged from $5.80 per bushel to $5.90 per bushel on the Portland market. Hard red winter wheat ranged from $5.74 per bushel to $7.14 per bushel, depending on its protein content. Dark northern spring wheat ranged from $7.11 per bushel to $8.04 per bushel, depending on protein.
“There could be some upward pressure on price,” he said. “We’re certainly hoping the price is up, because producers need to have a little better prices.”
The budget for marketing was increased by 4 percent, from $1.24 million to $1.29 million. Commissioners felt the need to increase trade teams or handle problems that arise during the year, Squires said. He cited uncertainty in China with the ongoing talk of new tariffs and in Japan with the U.S. withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
The increase will help bring South American trade teams to Washington or to the Wheat Marketing Center in Portland.
Funding for research in the budget decreased by 2.9 percent, from $2.42 million to $2.35 million. Squires said some research projects had come to an end.
Funding remains available to address falling number concerns. Squires expects some of that funding may not have to be used, with the USDA Agricultural Research Service slated to receive funding to address the starch damage test.
The commission assesses three-fourths of 1 percent of net receipts at the first point of sale for wheat and 1 percent of net receipts at the first point of sale for barley.
Squires expects an income of $6 million to $6.1 million. Earlier in the year, the commission expected less income, but prices are slightly higher, he said. Income depends on grain prices and production, Squires said.
The income supports the $6.3 million budget, so the commission will dip into reserves, Squires said. The commission may not end up spending the entire $6.3 million, he said.
The commission maintains the equivalent of a year’s income in reserves in case of a crop failure.
Squires said the commission has $4.6 million in reserves and $1 million in reserves designated for marketing, in case it’s needed to address marketing uncertainty.