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As 2019 begins to wind down, the Nebraska Wheat Board has a lot upon which to reflect. They have helped farmers manage difficulties from nature, assisted in developing markets and contributed to innovations in the crop.

Due to the rainfall across the state this past year, the board took steps to inform producers of potential diseases brought on by the wet conditions. The goal of this outreach initiative was to have growers scout and manage their fields in order to reduce risks in the wheat crop, said NWB Executive Director Royce Schaneman.

Also, in cooperation with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the NWB evaluated and took steps to improve the variety trials across the state to make them run more efficiently and turn data around faster to producers, he said.

“Over this summer, NWB hosted two trade teams to visit wheat farms and facilities here in the state,” said Sarah Morton, NWB agricultural promotion coordinator. “This initiated the first step in developing potential markets with the two countries — the Philippines and Peru.”

Finally, the board continues to look at and work towards addressing rail issues and facilitating direct rail shipments of wheat into Mexico, she said.

Looking forward to 2020, decreasing acres in the state is driving the diversity of the wheat crop grown. Many producers are looking at Identity Preserved programs to create a unique niche market and set their product apart from others. Nebraska will also see hard red spring and soft red winter wheat added to the growing season.

“Farmers are implementing these varieties to diversify their crop and open themselves up to other markets,” Morton said. “Overall, producers are looking into higher value markets, not necessarily taking the traditional route.”

Nebraska exports 50% of its wheat crop and this upcoming year promises both challenges and opportunities for producers, Morton said.

“Federal trade policy and trade with China continue to be ongoing issues that we are monitoring,” she said. “Passing USMCA and getting it in place would be an asset to our industry, so we continue to urge Congress to take action.”

Brazil recently implemented a 24-year-old Tariff Rate Quota, allowing 750,000 metric tons of wheat imports into the country which is a big win for United States wheat farmers. The NWB will also continue to work closely with Mexico, their best market, Morton said.

Domestically, the Board is looking into IP programs that will serve their customers with higher quality wheat while also giving a better return on investment to producers.

“In 2020, we look forward to continuing the work we are doing in terms of educational and promotional events, trade policy and research and development,” Schaneman said.

Jon Burleson can be reached at jon.burleson@lee.net.

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