Over the past 12 months Iraq continues to be a significant purchaser of U.S. wheat. Reporting from the ground in Iraq, Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns says he's pleased with the United States' share of the market, currently at 72%.
Johanns also reports that Iraqis will soon begin harvesting their wheat and is "anticipating a pretty good harvest." Although things can happen between now and harvest, Johanns says leaders there expect a better harvest than they've had in past years.
Johanns can't guarantee Iraq will continue purchasing at their level, but "prospects look good," he states.
While in Iraq, the secretary and Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Salam Zukam Ali Al-Zawba'i signed a joint statement of intent to strengthen and broaden Iraq's agricultural extension system and universities through partnerships between U.S. and Iraqi universities.
He explains next to oil, agriculture is the second largest industry in Iraq. "Beyond a shadow of doubt [agriculture] has the greatest potential to boost the overall economy," he says adding that he saw a lot of optimism from Iraqis that this is true and feasible.
Although regions of the country are desert, there are fertile regions within the country. The partnership is hoped to provide research and equipment resources for Iraqi growth.