PNW Export Tour

The Idaho Wheat Commission has conducted a Pacific Northwest Wheat Marketing Tour for nearly 20 years to educate Idaho wheat farmers about where their wheat goes after leaving the farm.  The IWC sponsors 10 wheat growers who have been selected by their commissioner, in Portland, Oregon. The three-day event allows Idaho wheat growers to learn about the U.S. inspection services, grain shipments, analytical testing, product development, and domestic and international uses for their wheat.  The tour is an excellent forum for leaders in Idaho’s wheat industry to gain a greater understanding of Pacific Northwest wheat marketing.

Every other year, the Idaho Wheat Commission (IWC) hosts two wheat growers or industry partners from each of the five commission districts throughout Idaho on the Pacific Northwest (PNW) Wheat Export Tour in Portland.  The tour was held in January of this year, and 16 growers, fieldmen, industry partners, and IWC commissioners and staff members participated.  The PNW Tour is designed to teach growers what happens to their wheat after it leaves the field.

The tour started at the Wheat Marketing Center, where participants received hands-on experience making crackers, ramen noodles, tortilla shells, pita bread, and tandoori bread.  The Wheat Marketing Center is a facility whose mission it is to bridge the gap between growers and consumers through technical training, grower workshops, research, product development, and crop quality testing.  The Wheat Marketing Center promotes and demonstrates the superb quality of wheat grown in the Pacific Northwest for global products.

Participants had the opportunity to hear from the Columbia River Bar Pilots and the Columbia River Pilots, as well as the Pacific Northwest Waterway Association (PNWA).  Pilots from the Columbia River Bar Pilots and Columbia River Pilots offered a look into the day-to-day of transporting wheat through the waterways.  Both the pilots and PNWA expressed the invaluable significance of the rivers as a way to transport large quantities of wheat and other products efficiently.

After breakfast the next morning, the group visited Shaver Transportation, where they were given a tour of the Willamette River from a tug boat.  All participants agreed that this experience was the highlight of the tour.  Across the river from the Wheat Marketing Center is the Federal Grain Inspection Service and the TEMCO Portland terminal, where wheat is loaded into cargo ships and sent around the world.  The ship being loaded during this tour was returning to Yemen full of PNW wheat.

The final stop was Franz Bakery.  Here attendees were able to see the large-scale baking process from start to finish.  This particular bakery produces 1.5 million hamburger buns every day and provides them to just about every fast-food restaurant chain in the western United States.  The PNW Export Tour is always a very enjoyable and educational experience.  If you are interested in participating in the tour in 2020, visit with the IWC commissioner from your area.