Wheat industry could benefit from changes to classifications

We now have more evidence that in fact the wheat classification of Hard Red Winter and Hard White Winter needs to be changed or at least modified.

The Kansas Wheat Commission and Kansas State University have provided an extensive study that makes comparisons between functionality and end uses of HRW and HWW wheat. Looking through the research findings you no doubt recognize the science that tells us that the two classes of Hard Winter Wheat should really be one class and that the two wheats are interchangeable for uses in end products. The results of the study emphasize the fact that rather than two different classes as they are now depicted there should be one Hard Winter Wheat class with sub-classes of HRW and HWW.

If we, as a society, should have learned one thing coming out of the COVID-19 crisis it is that we should follow the science. In this instance the science tells us that all these years we have been wrong about the classification of HWW and Soft White Wheat as well.

I am a United States wheat farmer and feel as though I speak for all other wheat growers when I say that a change needs to occur. We feel as though we have competed with a lower value lower priced wheat coming out of the Black Sea area long enough. We need to differentiate our wheat product from theirs as they are currently and have been setting a low world price for wheat. Each year we also lose wheat acres to this phenomenon. In order to help curtail this drop in acres and to get away from the Black Sea “Board of Trade” pricing mechanism, we need to make changes.

There is a large market both domestically and internationally (specifically in Asia) waiting for a quality Hard White Wheat. Critical mass of that variety has not been met because it has been placed in direct conflict with Hard Red Winter thru current classification. If the re-classification cannot occur, then at least the percentage of other classes needs to be enlarged.

In the Federal Register it was mentioned that several groups dealing in marketing and transportation of our product were in opposition to a change being made. Those groups apparently are unaware of how important the change is to our farmers, the economy of our respective states, and our entire wheat industry.

—Ron Suppes is a lifelong wheat producer from Dighton, Kansas.