WASHINGTON — The United States will import more wheat in the current marketing year than ever before. The Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has forecast wheat imports in 2013-14 at 170 million bus, up 10 million bus from its January outlook and up 47 million bus, or 38%, from 123 million bus in 2012-13. Wheat imports were forecast at a new record eclipsing the 136.5 million bus imported for use in the United States in 1943, at the height of World War II.
It should be noted, though, the 1943-44 wheat import figure “includes full-duty wheat, wheat imported for feed, and dutiable flour and other wheat products in terms of wheat.” But the figure excluded “wheat imported for milling in bond and export as flour, also flour free for export,” i.e. wheat imported for milling and export as flour mostly to Allied nations and liberated territories and flour imported for export through U.S. ports. Almost all of the wheat and flour imports originated in Canada, and it is likely that the aggregate flow of wheat and flour from Canada into the United States for both domestic use and for domestic export in 1943-44 fell short of this year’s record-breaking total.
The U.S.D.A. said in commentary accompanying its February wheat supply-and-demand forecasts, “Imports are raised 10 million bus as railroad backlogs and other logistical problems slow Canadian wheat shipments to Pacific Coast terminals and encourage additional shipments of hard red spring wheat into the U.S. market.”