Wheat Production and Marketing

Wheat-Producing Regions

Wheat is grown chiefly in two wide belts: between 30 and 55 North latitude, and between 30 and 40 South latitude. China, the United States, India, and Russia lead in world wheat production.

Kansas and North Dakota are the leading wheat-producing states. Canada's great wheat belt includes Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba.

How Wheat Goes to Market

The individual farmer usually sells grain to the owners of country elevators. (Sometimes the elevators are owned cooperatively by a number of farmers in the area.) The wheat may then be sold to local processors, or shipped to terminal elevators. Terminal markets weigh and inspect the grain, and help the owners of the wheat sell it. Wheat is often held for long periods in terminal elevators even after it is sold, because many buyers arrange for future delivery dates.

Buying and Selling Wheat

Most wheat is bought and sold at large grain (or commodity) exchanges such as the Chicago Board of Trade. Because of grading standards, it is not necessary for buyers to see samples, although samples may be available.

Surplus Wheat and Market Controls

Except during a major war, most wheat-exporting countries tend to accumulate large surpluses of the grain. These surpluses lead to low prices and threaten wheat growers with financial ruin. Governments have tried various methods of solving this problem.

In the United States, the federal government has imposed price supports, paid wheat farmers for limiting crops, and made loans on stored grain. However, these methods have been attacked as contributing to overproduction instead of lessening it. The United States government also conducts research to find new uses for wheat, and promotes the use of surplus wheat to feed needy peoples of the world. On an international scale, various pacts have been signed to help stabilize the wheat market.