Brazilian flour millers visit Eastern Shore
By JONATHAN CRIBBS
HURLOCK, Md. (June 10, 2014) — Five of Brazil’s largest flour millers toured the Eastern Shore last week to learn more about the quality and supply system of American wheat.
Brazil has quickly risen to the United States’ second largest importer of wheat due largely to crop and exporting issues in Argentina, typically the source of most of Brazil’s wheat imports, according to U.S. Wheat Associates, an Arlington, Va.-based organization that markets the nation’s wheat producers abroad.
Brazil imported nearly 158 million bushels of wheat or 4.3 million metric tons from the United States this year. The country imports about 260 million bushels in total yearly.
“I’m really impressed with the quality of the fields,” said Irineu Pedrollo, milling business director with J. Macêdo, as he looked over a field owned by farmer Russ Stevens.
J. Macêdo produces and distributes flour and cake mixes across Brazil. Pedrollo and the executives mill the vast majority of wheat in the country.
The millers toured farms that grow hard and soft red winter wheat in Maryland and Kansas and planned to meet with commercial grain elevator managers and officials with the USDA’s grain inspection system. Argentina has temporarily restricted wheat export licenses, providing an opening for U.S. wheat exporters after the Brazilian government, in search of new import sources, lifted a 10 percent tariff on American wheat imports.
But when those issues are resolved, the hope is Brazilians will continue importing American wheat, said Buddy Hance, secretary of the Maryland Department of Agriculture.
“At the end of the day, the price is always going to be the bottom line. But they have choices,” he said. “If we could have a viable market for our wheat, it would encourage more farmers to grow wheat.”
Stevensville, Md., farmer Jason Scott guided the tour of his family’s Walnut Hill Farms, which included lunch at his family’s home.
Scott was recently elected U.S. Wheat Associates’ secretary treasurer.
“The Brazilian millers seem to be pretty state of the art and up to the latest technology,” he said.
U.S. Wheat Associates often brings groups of foreign flour milling executives on tours of the United States. Five Japanese executives toured Washington, D.C., and part of the Midwest in late April. A Philippine team was here in October.