After three and half years of discussion, it appears that a proposal to merge the three national wheat organizations may be headed toward approval by the U.S. Wheat Associates Board of Directors.
The original proposal to consolidate U.S. Wheat Associates, the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG), and the Wheat Export Trade Education Committee (WETEC) failed to receive USW approval earlier this year, so the USW officers attempted to craft a compromise agreement among the wheat commissions. Recent indications are that the compromise may, indeed, resolve the objections that stood in the way of USW approval.
In memos emailed to all USW members, the chairmen of the North Dakota, Oklahoma and Montana wheat commissions -- the three organizations that voted against a consolidation proposal -- indicated their support for the compromise.
"As board members from states that were not able to support the WICC III proposal as presented last February in Reno, we thank the other member states for endorsing the needed bylaw changes to allow us to support a merger," says state commission chairmen Harlan Klein, N.D., and Keith Kisling, Okla. "Your flexibility in providing an opportunity to address our concerns is appreciated."
Also in an email to USW board members last week, Don Fast, chairman of the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee, says that the new proposal "facilitates our state law," and indicated that the Montanans "look forward to continued, positive progress on the merger proposal." He also thanked his colleagues for their "patience and willingness to address all issues."
U.S. Wheat Associates sent formal merger documents to the state wheat commissions last week, in anticipation of a vote at the next USW board meeting on October 1. The documents were also forwarded to the leadership of WETEC and NAWG, meeting on October 2 and 3, respectively. In a letter to USW, NAWG leadership committed to "an up or down vote" at their meeting.
"It is our hope that the NAWG and WETEC leadership will also support the most recent merger proposal and urge its acceptance among their members," says Klein and Kisling in their memo. "We need to move forward with developing strong markets and profitable production opportunities for U.S. wheat producers."
Under the latest proposal, NAWG and WETEC would be merged into USW, which would then change its name to U.S. Wheat Growers Association, Inc. If all goes well, the merger would be effective on July 1, 2006. The bylaws provide that export market development functions would retain three-quarters of the budget for the first three years of the new organization.