Monday, September 24, 2012

Idaho wheat exports to Mexico up 300%

By Justin Corr, KTVB
BOISE -- Some good news for Idaho wheat farmers means good news for everyone, as prices and exports are way up.
"The wheat harvest is now in, and there's good news," said Jake Putnam with the Idaho Farm Bureau.
That "good news" is wheat prices are up 10 cents per bushel over last month, and 44 cents per bushel over last year. But, Idaho farmers' gain is midwest farmers' loss, after a summer drought devastated most of their crops, including wheat. Unlike the Midwest, Idaho farmers irrigate, and don't necessarily depend on rainfall to water their crops. That's why they're seeing prices rise on one of Idaho's largest exports.
"We're getting very good prices," said Putnam. "We're going to continue to see very good prices well into the winter."
While the summer drought devastated midwest wheat, it also devastated Mexican wheat.
"Because of the Mexican harvest, and those numbers being off, they're looking to us," said Putnam. "They're buying wheat from us, because they know that we have very very good wheat."
Since the mid-90's, the Idaho Department of Commerce, the Farm Bureau, the Wheat Commission, and the governor's office have all worked to maintain relationships with millers in Mexico, and market Idaho's wheat.
"Millers down there will not do business with people they don't know," said Putnam. "They know Idahoans."
Thanks to those relationships, Idaho wheat exports to Mexico are up 300% this year. Putnam says, when the main economic driver in this state (agriculture) sees a boost, everyone does.
"If we don't get the prices that we need, then all of a sudden, they're going to be charging more for haircuts on main street," said Putnam. " So, all of agriculture is local. And, when we're doing well, main street does well."
Again, wheat is one of Idaho's top exports. In fact, Idaho is in the top five states in the nation for wheat production.
Meanwhile, Putnam says Idaho corn is doing pretty well, and will also benefit from a weak harvest in the Midwest.
As for Idaho's marquee crop, Putnam says the potato market is flooded, and prices will be down. While Idaho's spud harvest has been good, he believes it will likely be a break-even year

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