By Aaron Harries Kansas Wheat
MANHATTAN - The Kansas wheat check-off will increase from a 1.5 cents to 2 cents per bushel effective November 1, 2013. The decision was made by the board of the Kansas Wheat Commission at their regular meeting in August. For the past five years, producers have been investing 15 mills (1.5 cents per bushel) to support research and market development activities of the Commission. The increase to 2 cents per bushel will put the Kansas wheat check-off at a rate equal to or less than most other wheat check-offs in the U.S.
The decision to increase the assessment was made in large part due to the need to advance and accelerate wheat technology improvement through research.
With the opening of the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center in Manhattan in Dec. 2012, a huge step was taken towards the advancement of wheat research in Kansas. The 35,000 square-foot, $10.3 million research facility will result in new, improved wheat varieties being released at an increased frequency.
"Shrinking state and federal research funding in combination with decreased wheat acres and smaller crops make it more vital than ever that farmers invest more in their industry. This small increase of the assessment will allow the Commission to pay down debt on the new building and focus on funding research in the Innovation Center," said Ron Suppes, Kansas Wheat Commission Chairman from Dighton.
The extra dollars will also aid in marketing efforts. Kansas continues to export 50 percent of wheat produced every year to international markets at a value of $1.5 billion. The Commission continues to work through U.S. Wheat Associates to identify new and emerging international markets and assessing the needs of those customers. Case in point, the U.S. will export over two million tons of wheat to Brazil this year, because the U.S. was able to meet Brazil's needs while their traditional supplier Argentina was not. Every Kansas farmer dollar contributed to international marketing efforts through U.S. wheat is matched by nearly three dollars of federal support.
"We also can't take our domestic customers for granted," said KWC CEO Justin Gilpin. "The gluten-free food market has seen a 28 percent increase in growth the past five years. Books like the "Wheat Belly" feed into this consumer diet fad. Farmer dollars are used to support the Wheat Foods Council, which works to make sure that truth and science combat myths and fads regarding gluten."
Farmers who have concerns or questions about the Kansas wheat check-off are encouraged to contact the Kansas Wheat Offices at 1-866-75WHEAT or firstname.lastname@example.org