Wheat group engaged in conflict
March 8, 2019
The National Wheat Growers Association is in the midst of an internal conflict with one of its key members, the North Dakota Grain Growers.
North Dakota Grain Growers Association President Jeff Mertz told the Red River Farm Network that NAWG, which represents the nation's wheat growers, should be more proactive on policy issues.
The discontent goes back many years.
"Like in 2008, we had the ability to get a quality adjustment from RMA [the Risk Management Agency] and all we needed was a letter from NAWG and we couldn't motivate NAWG to give us a letter (of support) for the (congressional) delegation," Mertz said.
“NAWG provides equal representation to all of its members across the board. We hope that this matter will soon be put behind us and we can move forward as one, unified organization.Ben Scholz, NAWG President
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Red River, a radio network, added, "It also comes down to a matter of return on investment. The NDGGA dues for NAWG this year would be nearly a quarter-million dollars. That represents nearly 80 percent of the NDGGA annual budget. Two years ago, the North Dakota organization paid only half of the required amount due to the drought. A similar proposal was overwhelmingly rejected this year by the NAWG board. North Dakota has sought a bylaws change to have representation in NAWG based on wheat production, but that has not materialized."
"We left the door open and hopefully we can come to an agreement that is equitable for both sides," Mertz told Red River. A decision will need to be made by the end of June.
In a response, NAWG President Ben Scholz, a Texas grower, commented, "NAWG has a well-known presence on Capitol Hill and is seen as the overarching voice for this nations' wheat farmers. We have achieved numerous policy goals, most recently being the passing of the 2018 farm bill. There were many wins for wheat in the 2018 farm bill which can be attributed to NAWG and its member states working together to make sure legislators knew our priorities and were clear about where we stood on each title."
"NAWG would like to comment on a few points made in the article, Scholz said. "We have been working with NDGGA to resolve some of the issues they have presented to us. We have listened to their concerns and have worked hard to find solutions.
"Additionally, NDGGA did present a bylaw change to the board during our winter conference in early February. After discussion, the NDGGA board of directors requested to withdraw the proposal. So, the agenda item was tabled to be addressed during our board meeting at Commodity Classic. During our board meeting at Classic, NDGGA choose not to bring it back up.
"Further, the article refers to a crop insurance issue in 2008 but none of the current staff were there during that time and so cannot speak to that situation. However, we were successful in advocating for a quality adjustment provision in the 2018 farm bill.
"NAWG provides equal representation to all of its members across the board. We hope that this matter will soon be put behind us and we can move forward as one, unified organization," Scholz said.
–The Hagstrom Report