Members of the National Association of Wheat Growers elected its officer team for the 2005-06 term at the National Grain Congress in Reno, Nev. this week.
Pendleton, Oregon farmer Sherman Reese, is the president; Dale Schuler, Carter, Montana is first vice president; John Thaemert, Sylvan Grove, Kansas is second vice president and David Cleavinger, Wildorado, Texas, is secretary-treasurer.
Reese farms about 4,600 acres of dryland wheat, 300 acres of irrigated ground and runs an Angus cowherd. He sat down with Farm Progress publications to talk about the coming year.
KF: How did you become involved in NAWG?
SR: In 1992, I was president at the county level. I became more active in the Oregon Wheat Growers League, joining the executive board in 1997 and became state president in 2000. I was asked to become the chair of NAWGâ€™s domestic policy committee in 2000, which, because of the farm bill, was NAWGâ€™s biggest committee. It was exciting to see how one person can have an effect and help shape policy. It was fun to work with producers from other parts of the country. I went off the board in 2001 but returned when asked by a past president.
KF: What are NAWGâ€™s 2005 priorities?
SR: I work in concert with the other board members and the NAWG staff. We need to defend the current farm bill while beginning work on the next farm bill. Weâ€™ve hired Combest and Associates (led by former Texas Congressman Larry Combest) to augment our current lobbying efforts. Thatâ€™s worked well so far. Advancing biotechnology is another priority because we see that as crucial in reducing the slippage of wheat acres to corn and soybeans. We are preparing for the next farm bill and have planned a visioning conference in April to jumpstart our thinking on what we need in the next farm bill. We did the same thing for the 2000 Farm Bill and that was very successful, it generated a lot of good ideas.
KF: Consolidation between NAWG, U.S. Wheat Associates and the Wheat Export Trade Education Committee failed. What is the next step?
SR: We have accepted responsibility for WETEC and will work to meld them into NAWG. Consolidation is out of our hands, to a degree. We voted on consolidation today as it was presented and it passed. U.S. Wheat has asked for two more yearsâ€¦but I donâ€™t know if my board wants to wait that long for the issues that face the industry. U.S. Wheat Associates has a board meeting in July [in which consolidation may be revisited]. If it goes down then, all bets are off.