The Idaho Wheat Commission has conducted a Pacific Northwest Wheat Marketing Tour for about 20 years to educate Idaho wheat farmers about where their wheat goes after leaving the farm. The IWC sponsors 10 wheat growers who are selected by their commissioner, in Portland, Oregon. The two-to-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 year, 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 is usually in January, and nearly 20 growers, fieldmen, researchers, industry partners and IWC commissioners and staff members participate. The PNW Tour is designed to teach growers what happens to their wheat after it leaves the field.
A recent 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 have the opportunity to hear from the Columbia River Bar Pilots and the Columbia River Pilots, U.S. Wheat Associates and the Pacific Northwest Waterway Association (PNWA). Pilots from the Columbia River Bar Pilots and Columbia River Pilots can offer a look into the day-to-day of transporting wheat through the waterways. Both the pilots and PNWA appreciate how invaluable the Columbia-Snake River System is as a way to transport large quantities of wheat and other products efficiently.
Groups also visit tugboat operators such as Shaver Transportation, where they go out on the Willamette River by a tugboat. Participants tend to agree the experience is a 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. A ship loaded at the terminal could be en route to an Asian or Middle Eastern market like Yemen with PNW wheat.
The final stop often is Grand Central Bakery or Franz Bakery where attendees can see the artisan or large-scale baking process from start to finish. Franz 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, visit with the IWC commissioner from your area.