Japan millers, Washington Grain Commission sign letter of intent on club wheat

Flour millers were greeted by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Washington State University officials, researchers and commission members during a letter of intent signing ceremony on the WSU campus.
Matthew Weaver

Capital Press

Published on May 3, 2018 10:17AM

Last changed on May 4, 2018 8:28AM

Washington State University President Kirk Schulz, right, standing, greets members of the Japan Flour Millers Association May 2 on the WSU campus in Pullman, Wash. With university, state and federal leaders in attendance, the association and the Washington Grain Commission signed a letter of intent to develop new varieties of club wheat. Japan is the largest international purchaser of club wheat.

Matthew Weaver/Capital Press

Washington State University President Kirk Schulz, right, standing, greets members of the Japan Flour Millers Association May 2 on the WSU campus in Pullman, Wash. With university, state and federal leaders in attendance, the association and the Washington Grain Commission signed a letter of intent to develop new varieties of club wheat. Japan is the largest international purchaser of club wheat.

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Yasuo Sasaki, executive director of the Japan Flour Millers Association, and Glen Squires, CEO of the Washington Grain Commission, sign the letter of intent to work together to develop club wheat varieties May 2 on the Washington State University campus in Pullman, Wash.

Matthew Weaver/Capital Press

Yasuo Sasaki, executive director of the Japan Flour Millers Association, and Glen Squires, CEO of the Washington Grain Commission, sign the letter of intent to work together to develop club wheat varieties May 2 on the Washington State University campus in Pullman, Wash.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers,R-Wash., greets members of the Japan Flour Millers Association May 2 during a ceremony to mark the association’s and the Washington Grain Commission’s intent to further develop club wheat varieties May 2 in Pullman, Wash. Mike Miller, chairman of U.S. Wheat Associates and a grain commission board member, stands behind McMorris Rodgers.

Matthew Weaver/Capital Press

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers,R-Wash., greets members of the Japan Flour Millers Association May 2 during a ceremony to mark the association’s and the Washington Grain Commission’s intent to further develop club wheat varieties May 2 in Pullman, Wash. Mike Miller, chairman of U.S. Wheat Associates and a grain commission board member, stands behind McMorris Rodgers.

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PULLMAN, Wash. — Japanese flour millers and Washington’s wheat industry have committed to further developing club wheat varieties.

At a May 2 ceremony on the Washington State University campus in Pullman, members of the Japan Flour Millers Association were greeted by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, state Agriculture Director Derek Sandison, WSU President Kirk Schulz, USDA Agricultural Research Service and WSU researchers, university officials and Washington Grain Commission board members.

Association executive director Yasuo Sasaki and commission CEO Glen Squires signed a letter of intent to develop club wheat varieties through more technical exchange.

“It will confirm enhanced cooperation in order to strengthen the support system of vital USDA ARS club wheat cultivar development, including quality evaluation,” said Gary Bailey, the commission chairman and a St. John farmer. “We all know how important it is for both farmers and customers that research be market-applicable.”

Club wheat, a subclass of the soft white wheat grown primarily in the Pacific Northwest and Washington, is a key component in Japanese products. Japan is the top market for club wheat.

Members of the association in attendance represented more than 75 percent of Japan’s wheat purchases, said Mike Miller, chairman of U.S. Wheat Associates, a commission board member and a Ritzville farmer.

Miller also told the flour millers that the industry had followed through on their concerns regarding U.S. withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

“We gave you our word we would do everything within our power to raise awareness of the urgency and actually slam on the table a little bit and make some noise with the administration and Congress on the importance of this agreement,” Miller said.

Trump has read and acknowledged the wheat industry’s letters, Miller said. The industry will also continue to work with Congress, he said.

McMorris Rodgers said Washington is the most trade-dependent state in the country.

“I have made it very clear to the administration my concerns with an across-the-board approach to tariffs,” she said. “We should be focusing on illegal practices, but not penalizing relationships or allies we have developed over decades.”

McMorris Rodgers said she hopes to see a more targeted approach from the administration. She recently met with Trump’s new economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, who told her that nothing has been put in place. The current focus is on China, she added.

“Everything is on the table — tariffs, no tariffs, negotiations,” McMorris Rodgers said. She expects some announcements from the administration in the next few weeks, she said.

Trade mission team leader Toshifumi Horiuchi, managing director of Nippon Flour Mill Co., called the agreement “truly meaningful.”

The association appreciates efforts to develop and provide a stable supply of quality wheat to buyers in Japan, he said.

“We hope to keep in touch with each other and work to further develop a good relationship,” he said.





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