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Montana Ag Network: Mexico an important market for state wheat, barley growers

Posted: 6:35 PM, Jun 05, 2019
Updated: 2019-06-05 20:35:51-04

Montana farmers raise some of the highest quality wheat and barley in the world. That’s why it’s in such high demand by international flour millers and bakers. And a growing market for Montana wheat and barley is Mexico.

This week, leaders from the United States and Mexico met in Cancun for a special Mexico Wheat Trade Conference hosted by the U.S. Wheat Associates. Chris Kolstad is the U.S. Wheat Associate’s chairman from Ledger, Mont., and he explains why Mexico is so important to U.S. farmers like him.

“Mexico has been a good friend of ours for a lot of years,” said Kolstad. “They’re our southern border friend and one of our top five importers of U.S. wheat around the world. So, they’re a very important market for us.”

The conference comes just days before a deadline set by President Trump to impose tariffs on all Mexican goods if Mexico doesn’t stem immigration from Central America. The president has threatened to impose a 5 percent tariff on Mexico June 10, though negotiators are hoping to avoid that outcome.

At the conference, Francisco Salas, a wheat buyer for Harinas in Chihuahua, Mexico, said he appreciates the long-standing relationship with the U.S. wheat industry and U.S. farmers.

“We have a long history of using U.S. wheat in the northern part of Mexico because we are really close,” said Salas. “A lot of the procurement of wheat we do it’s from the railroad coming from Kansas to the El Paso on down into Chihuahua which is not far away. So, we have a long history of getting wheat. From Kansas, northern Oklahoma and Texas, and it’s a relationship we cherish a lot. We’ve been doing business for a long time before and we’re looking forward to upholding that for years to come.”

As the population continues to grow in Latin America, Montana Wheat and Barley Committee board member Denise Conover of Broadview sees a lot of opportunity for U.S. farmers.

“We may not ship a lot of wheat to Mexico out of Montana, but we do a lot of barley and that helps producers across the United States with supply and demand and we all know that’s what drives our prices” said Conover. “So, anytime we can sell wheat out of the U.S. that’s a good thing for everybody.”

As for the future of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), attendees at the conference are hopeful that all three countries will eventually ratify the new trade agreement paving the way for increased export business for the U.S. wheat industry.

Story by Russell Nemetz, MTN News