By Associated Press - Tuesday, August 12, 2014

FARGO, N.D. (AP) - Representatives of five key milling companies in the Philippines are coming to North Dakota to learn more about the region’s hard red spring wheat crop.

The U.S. holds a 90 percent spring wheat market share in the Pacific island nation. North Dakota leads the U.S. in producing spring wheat, growing nearly half of the country’s crop.

The Filipino delegation on Wednesday will visit North Dakota State University and the Northern Crops Institute in Fargo, and a shuttle train loading facility in the region, according to the North Dakota Wheat Commission.

Filipino millers “have proven to be an excellent trade partner and customer for our wheat, helping us establish a stable export market and stronger prices for our producers,” said commission Chairman Francis Leiphon, who farms near Crary.

The Philippines was the top hard red spring wheat export market for the U.S. in the last marketing year, buying more than 43 million bushels.

“U.S. wheat has been a big part of the Filipino milling and baking industry for more than 50 years,” said Joe Sowers, U.S. Wheat Associates assistant regional director for South Asia, who is travelling with the team. “Coming to the United States helps these companies understand the work farmers, grain handlers and (the government) put in to produce and deliver high-quality wheat and services that can help them grow their businesses.”

The Philippine economy is one of the fastest-growing in Asia and flour consumption is anticipated to increase. Four new mills are under construction - the first in more than 30 years.

The Filipino team also is making stops in Oregon, Washington and Kansas during its U.S. trip.

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