Position of United States wheat in the world wheat market
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Wheat is very important to the United States and to the world because of its importance in commerce, industry, and society. To discuss wheat from the position of the wheat In the United States in the world market, the subject is narrowed to only a small part of a topic. The United States is the second largest wheat producing nation in the world, second only to Russia. To produce wheat, much consideration must be given to the problem of how to control the yield of wheat per acre so that the average yield per acre may be steadily raised. Wheat is a food and food is important to every man and animal in the world because without it there is not life. A food as important as wheat should receive the attention of the leaders in government to best assure their people ample stocks for food and employment of men associated with the industry. Today, the United States is an important food pantry in a war-torn world and through proper economic planning this country may continue its present status, and even enlarge its export business on wheat. The origin of wheat and its inclusion in man's diet as a basic food, goes back as far as six thousand years ago. Wheat was introduced into the western hemisphere in 1530, by the Spaniards; first cultivated in Mexico and then brought to California only a short time before the American Revolution. On the Atlantic Coast, wheat farming had its beginning with the first colonists from Europe. The cultivation of wheat moved Westward with the growth of the country, and today the bulk of the nation's annual harvest comes from the midwestern states. Men have given their entire life to work on improving the quality, immunity from wheat diseases, and yield per acre of wheat. These men have done much in lessening the catastrophe of poor wheat crops to the wheat farmer and his family's very life that resulted in miserable hardships when the crop failed to provide sufficient income for the year's living. In the United States we have many types of wheat that are a great improvement over the types of the early settlers. There are some 329 registered varieties of wheat in this country divided into two main groups: "Winter Wheat", which is planted in the fall of the year, and "Spring Wheat" which is planted in the spring and usually ready for harvest only a few weeks after the winter varieties. Wheat has its greatest production in the product to which the unqualified term "flour" is usually applied. Wheat flour possesses peculiar properties that make it especially desirable in bread making; of all the cereal grains only wheat contains the kind of proteins which enable the flour to produce a smooth dough. The process of milling wheat into wheat flour is mechanical and is a gradual reduction process whose chief aim is to produce as much flour as possible at a single grinding. The wheat berry is broken into its various parts and separating them according to size and grade. The exporting of wheat is an important part of the business, especially in the United States; although, the world export of wheat and flour for 1942-43 was less than in any year since the 1880's. Lack of shipping is the chief reason and the weapons of war were first on the list before food. The large surplus wheat stocks in the United States were reduced by using wheat in producing alcohol for war purposes and in maintaining livestock numbers at record heights. Bumper crops and large old-crops caused a severe shortage of storage space for grain, and measures had to be taken to reduce wheat acreage. At no time in the preceding twenty years has the yield per acre approached that of 1942 in the United States. The present attitude has changed toward large wheat carry-overs through the development of the need for livestock feed to meet wartime demands and alcohol production. Second, the success scored during 1942-43 by the armed forces of the United Nations liberated people who were either wholly or partially dependent on overseas food supplies. This present attitude means that the United States, or any of the flour extorting countries, should regard heavy wheat stocks as a good thing and not a burden. In 1943, the United States was the first country to relax acreage restrictions. The supply of wheat or grain in any country may be considered ample, but an adequate supply can quickly become critically inadequate when other food stocks are low, and the increased demand for wheat will faster decrease the stock. At present, in Continental Europe the food situation is critical as there are war-time shortages of labor, motive power, agricultural equipment, and fertilizers; in addition, unfavorable weather has made the bread-grain situation (largely wheat) seriously critical. Potato and vegetable production increased but not enough to offset the shortage and it is probable that wheat (and rye as well) is in shorter supply in 1942-43 than in any year since 1920-21. Notwithstanding the expansion of wheat production in the United States these last few years, the supply of wheat of this country and the other three exporting countries of this grain (Australia, Argentina, and Canada), the combined total is hardly sufficient for the food demands of the world. A carry-over of 300 million bushels next July would normally provide very ample operating stocks and reserves against possible small yields, but not in view of the probably heavy exports to feed liberated people; we may, in fact, find ourselves experiencing a scarcity. The United States Department of Agriculture estimates the 1943-44 domestic supply will disappear as follows, in million of bushels: food 535, feed 380, seed 80, industrial alcohol 110, and exports 50, a total of 1,155 million bushels. Stocks of wheat in the United States on October 1, 1943, totaled 1,109 million bushels, the third largest on record for that date. As background on the domestic wheat situation, the ten-year period of 1932-1941, the annual carryover of old wheat in the United States averaged about 235 million bushels, production 738 million bushels, and domestic disappearance 677 million, of which food was 479, feed 117, and seed 81 million bushels. Without economic planning of United States wheat, the situation may create great hardships through abundance or scarcity. The country needs more of an international understanding of wheat. The idea of World Wheat Planning was never so important in any period of history. Advocates of "laisser-faire" argue that there can never be international planning, therefore it is useless for us to plan nationally and the wheat-farmer will be no better off. Those against State planning hold that the individual activities are guided by the profit motive and the system of individual initiative in production and distribution cannot be maintained if freedom is curtailed by rules set up by the state in its planning. It is further pointed out that the commands of the State will necessitate an enormous system of bureaucrats for the planning, production, and distribution which would inevitably cause prices to become very high and thus reduce the standard of living. Whether we like it or not we are headed more and more towards intrusion of the State into the hitherto private activities of man.
This item was digitized by the Internet Archive. Thesis (M.A.)--Boston University