Nearly four years of discussions and negotiations have failed to produce a merger agreement between the three national wheat organizations: U.S. Wheat Associates, National Association of Wheat Growers and the Wheat Export Trade Education Committee.
USW voted in favor of a plan to merge at their board meeting on Saturday and WETEC approved it on Sunday. But the NAWG Board of Directors rejected the plan at their meeting on Monday.
The vote took place in Portland, Ore., during the organization's Fall Board of Directors meeting. The measure failed by a vote of 18 against, 11 in favor.
The main sticking point for board members was how to count votes on policy issues within the consolidated organization. The proposal floated by U.S. Wheat Associates required votes to be allocated within a state, between a commission and an association, by the money contributed rather than equally. Several members of the NAWG Board expressed reservations with this arrangement, claiming that this would effectively relegate many state grower associations to second-class status on the Board.
The original compromise on this issue -- dubbed the "WICC-3" proposal -- would give equal votes to commission and association representatives on the combined board. In the opinion of the majority on the NAWG board, this would create a more viable and less politicized governance structure. This original compromise was accepted by the boards of all three organizations in February 2005, but failed to pass a final confirming vote of the members at U.S. Wheat Associates at that time.
Following the vote, the NAWG Board passed a motion to have the USW and NAWG boards meet together at the earliest possible opportunity to reconcile differences on the compromise proposal. While there were NAWG directors on both sides of the vote, there was unanimity among the Board that consolidation still needs to take place.