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Idaho Wheat Commission follows through on UI pledge

Commission names new chairman, stays bullish on hard white wheat.

By Brad Carlson

Published on June 8, 2018 9:44AM

Clark Hamilton of the Idaho Wheat Commission.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

Clark Hamilton of the Idaho Wheat Commission.

Capital Press

The Idaho Wheat Commission has voted to add $200,000 to its annual budget for each of the next five years to support a new risk-management chair at the University of Idaho.

It was a follow-up to an earlier commitment announced in March, when the commission pledged $2 million to the university to fund its Endowed Chair of Risk Management as a new effort to expand education focused on that discipline.

The university said the chair will expand collaboration between the UI agriculture and business colleges, which cooperate on the Agricultural Commodity Risk Management Program and the Barker Capital Management and Trading Program. The chair also provides public outreach.

Clark Hamilton, outgoing chairman of the five-member wheat commission, said the recently approved five-year investment is on top of $1 million the commission already had in reserve.

“The commission feels this chair and this investment will come back to growers, in risk management and in growing their crops,” he said. Growers ultimately stand to gain better knowledge and skills in using the futures market, and in using put and call options to hedge, he said.

“Today’s market is volatile, and this helps protect against this volatility,” said Hamilton, who farms in the Ririe-Swan Valley area of southeast Idaho. He rotates wheat with potatoes and peas. He also grows barley.

Idaho wheat commissioners also discussed hard white wheat at their June 5 meeting in Rexburg. The commission and U.S. Wheat Associates want to step up marketing of Idaho hard white for export, Hamilton said. Taiwanese customers have been interested in the variety.

U.S. Wheat recently organized a Taiwan-bound container shipment of hard white wheat grown in Oregon, Idaho and Washington. Hard white wheat — winter and spring types — is used in blended flours, Asian noodles, steam breads and domestic foods made with whole wheat.

Much of the hard white wheat produced in southeast Idaho goes to local milling companies, Hamilton said. But from Idaho in total, “now there is not a lot moved in high volumes for export.”

Putting more wheat into containers rather than bulk ships is a potential solution until demand and production increase sufficiently to justify the larger vessels, he said.

U.S. Wheat plans to host trade-team visits in late July in Idaho, two in Lewiston for Southeast Asia teams and one on Hamilton’s farm for a South Korea trade team. Teams travel to client countries on a reciprocal basis to reaffirm commitments to quality, he said.

About half of the wheat Idaho grows is exported, including most of the crop grown in northern Idaho.

Also June 5, commissioners elected Bill Flory of Culdesac as chairman and Ned Moon of Rupert as vice chairman.

The commission collects 3.5 cents per bushel at the first point of sale to fund market development, research, communication and grower education.


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