Japan imported US$698 million worth of American wheat in 2018
By Diego Flammini
American wheat producers are upset with President Trump’s claim that Japan only imports U.S. wheat as a form of charity.
Sending Japan wheat in exchange for cars isn’t good business, the president said while visiting the Shell Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex in Monaca, Penn. on Aug. 13.
Japan “sends thousands and thousands – millions – of cars. We send them wheat. Wheat, ” President Trump said. “That’s not a good deal. And they don’t event want our wheat. They do it because they want us to at least feel that we’re okay. You know, they do it to make us feel good.”
A wheat organization pointed out how important Japan is to U.S. wheat farmers.
In 2018, the U.S. exported US$698 million worth of wheat to Japan, the Office of the United States Trade Representative said.
Almost half of Japan’s wheat imports come from the U.S., the National Association of Wheat Growers said.
“Mr. President, Japan is the #1 market for U.S. wheat exports on average, where we hold just over 50 percent of the market,” the organization said in an Aug. 14 tweet. “They don’t buy our wheat because ‘they want us to feel okay.’ They buy it because it’s the highest quality in the world. That’s not fake news.”
The Nebraska Wheat Board echoed the national organization’s sentiments.
“Nebraska averages US$15 to US$20 million of wheat exports to Japan annually,” the organization said on its Facebook page Aug. 14. “It is a top market for our state. They value the quality our farmers produce. We’ll continue working to maintain relationships with our milling partners over there and market share for our wheat producers here.”
Politicians from major wheat states are supporting U.S. farmers.
Japan is the top market for Montana wheat. Securing a trade agreement will help keep it that way, said U.S. Sen. Steve Daines.
“Ag is Montana’s number one industry and Montana’s farmers produce the best and highest-quality wheat in the world and Japan is one of our best customers,” he said, KPAX reported. “They buy Montana wheat because it’s the best. I urge the administration to quickly finalize trade negotiations with Japan.”
Farms.com has reached out to wheat farmers for comment.
President Trump's remarks about wheat start around the 20:30 mark of the video.