Farm and Ranch November 28, 2006 Flag smut has become the latest phytosanitary political football for the Pacific Northwest grain industry to deal with. Tom Mick, CEO of the Washington Wheat Commission explains.
Mick: "For example, recently Kenya held a food aid tender to buy hard red winter wheat. In that tender they specified that no wheat should be included in the tender that originated from Washington, Oregon and Idaho."
And that's because says Mick, USDA's APHIS made a quick deal with Kenya that it could not certify wheat from the PNW as being flag smut free, even though Mick says the disease has never really been a problem here and is controlled by seed treatments.
Now, Kenya has no history of buying soft white wheat and it has not purchased any West Coast wheat for nearly a decade but that's not the point.
Mick: "We don't have a problem. We are very upset about this. It limits our ability to market. It gives us a bad name so we are going after this issue. Brazil has the same situation. Even though they don't buy from the West Coast. They are one of the largest purchasers in the world and if they have this requirement not to originate wheat from the West Coast other countries may look at it and start questioning our quality."
Mick says they are looking at options to address this issue. Doing a Pest Risk Assessment is one option but that could take several years to complete.
I'm Bob Hoff and that's the Northwest Farm and Ranch Report on the Northwest Ag Information Network.