The Oregon Wheat Growers League is profoundly disappointed in comments made about wheat and our markets in Japan by President Trump in a speech in Pennsylvania on Aug. 13. The President’s dismissive statements (“...they don’t even want our wheat...they do it to make us feel good) about the importance of customers in Japan to wheat growers in Oregon and the US demonstrated that he doesn’t fully appreciate the 70 years of effort by generations of wheat growers to build the great relationships we now have with our customers in Japan.
In 1949, the administrator of the Oregon Wheat Commission joined with two other wheat representatives and traveled to Japan to conduct an analysis of the potential market for Oregon wheat. He reported great opportunities for trade, but said that success depended on establishing a relationship with customers in Japan, and on providing a high-quality product at a competitive price.
Truer words have rarely been spoken.
That first trip started an extraordinary 70-year journey between Oregon’s wheat growers and our longest and best customer, Japan. Oregon has been a proud partner and supporter of the Japanese wheat industry through the decades. We’ve been joined by many other wheat states, our national wheat organizations, our land grant universities, USDA, Oregon Department of Agriculture and many others to develop and sustain our markets in Japan.
Japan is the #1 market for US wheat overall, and the #2 market for the soft white wheat grown in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. US wheat has a 50 percent market share in Japan, and they appreciate the high quality, consistency, and reliability of the wheat we grow. Our customers in Japan don’t buy our wheat because they are doing us a favor or to make us feel good; they buy our wheat because we have built a relationship with them, earned their trust, listened to their needs, and provided great customer service.
We appreciate many of the things that the Trump Administration has done for agriculture, but sincerely hope the President will take the time to learn about and appreciate the great success story and heritage that has been built between wheat growers in the US and our customers in Japan.
Statement from the Oregon Wheat League.