2021 Tri-State Grain Growers Convention

By Trista Crossley

wheat field

Presented by the wheat industries After being canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions last year, the 2021 Tri-State Grain Growers Convention promises to be better than ever.

This year’s event is slated for Nov. 30-Dec. 3 at the Davenport Grand Hotel in Spokane, Wash., and is sponsored by the Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG), the Oregon Wheat Growers League and the Idaho Grain Producers Association. Besides offering an opportunity to socialize and network, producers will hear state and national policy updates, enjoy top-notch keynote speakers and participate in educational breakout sessions.

“We are excited to be going forward with an in-person convention after more than a year of Zoom meetings,” said Michelle Hennings, WAWG executive director. “We’ve got an outstanding list of speakers lined up that will be both entertaining and informative. We are looking forward to celebrating our industry and defining the policies we’ll be working on in the coming year.”

While the COVID-19 situation is still fluid, the Idaho, Oregon and Washington wheat organizations are working with the hotel to comply with any requirements that might be in place at the time of the convention. WAWG will provide updates as necessary at wawg.org and in the weekly Greensheet newsletter. Special mailings will be sent out, if necessary. Producers should watch their mailboxes for registration information. In addition, producers can register online at wawg.org/convention/registration/.

Of special interest to WAWG members is the all-committee board meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 1. This is an opportunity for WAWG members to help establish legislative priorities for the coming year, as well as to update WAWG’s resolutions. All members are encouraged to attend.

“Our resolutions help direct WAWG’s advocacy efforts, so we need to hear from our members as to the direction they’d like us to take,” explained Hennings. “We’ve got some critical issues we’ll be addressing this year, including protecting the lower Snake River dams, capital gains taxes and carbon policies. As a member-led organization, we strive to address the issues that are most important to our producers.”

Members that can’t attend the meeting are welcome to call the WAWG office at (509) 659-0610, and an employee can submit comments on their behalf.

The convention will kick off by zeroing in on national ag issues with veteran farm policy reporter Sara Wyant, president of Agri-Pulse Communications. Agri-Pulse, the newsletter and website she founded, includes the latest updates on farm policy, commodity and conservation programs, trade, food safety, rural development and environmental and regulatory programs.

Other keynote presenters will include Jack Bobo, who will speak on the disruptions happening in the global food supply chain and explore trends to help companies get ahead of them before they get run over. Hall-of-Fame speaker and former national FFA President Mark Mayfield will focus on the changing face and challenges of agriculture. He’ll delve into the need for communication and activism, and why producers have to continue that ag spirit of optimism. See more on Mayfield on page 32. Finally, Eric Snodgrass, principal atmospheric scientist for Nutrien Ag Solutions, will present a weather update and take a look at how high-impact weather events influence global agriculture productivity. See more on Snodgrass on page 38.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has been invited to speak on U.S. Department of Agriculture grower programs.

The annual auction and dinner on Thursday, Dec. 2, will provide a wealth of Christmas shopping opportunities and a chance to support the educational efforts of the three states’ industry organizations. Entertainment will be provided by Cara Pascalar (see page 34). If you’d like to donate an item to either the silent or live auction, please contact the Washington Wheat Foundation at (509) 234-5824.

There is an exciting change in store for one of the convention’s most popular programs. The 15×40 program offers a free convention registration to 15 Washington state producers under 40 years of age who haven’t attended the convention before. For the first time ever, the program will also include lodging costs. A standard room rate will be reimbursed by the Washington Wheat Foundation. Receipt required, and no additional charges will be allowed. This is a first-come, first-served program, and it tends to fill up quickly. Besides a convention registration, if the participant isn’t a WAWG member, he or she will get a one-year paid association membership. To register, call the WAWG office at (509) 659-0610.

The annual photo contest is also back with a grand prize of a free registration to the 2022 Tri-State Grain Growers Convention to be held at the Coeur d’Alene Resort in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Nov. 29-Dec. 2, 2022. Winning photos may be used in 2022 marketing materials and will be published in Wheat Life, Oregon Wheat and Idaho Grain magazines. Entries will be displayed throughout the 2021 convention area. Contest is open to convention registrants only, and photos must have been taken within the last 12 months. Submissions can now be done electronically and should be emailed to lori@wawg.org by noon, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021. Please include photographer’s name, contact and caption information. For more information, please contact Lori Williams at lori@wawg.org or by phone at (509) 659-0610.

Early bird registration for the Davenport Grand Hotel ends Oct. 29, 2021. The Davenport is located in downtown Spokane, Wash., within walking distance of theaters, art galleries, restaurants and shopping. Guests of the Davenport Grand will have full access to the pools at the company’s other properties—The Historic Davenport Hotel and The Davenport Tower. Each has a heated indoor pool and hot tub. Also located at the Historic Davenport Hotel is the Davenport Spa and Salon, a midcity oasis of serenity and well-being. The concierge desk can help arrange transportation (based on availability) to the other properties.

Registration and a complete convention schedule is available on our website at wawg.org/convention/. Here’s a closer look at the breakout sessions scheduled for the 2021 convention:

Farm Bill Process and Implementation

Chandler Goule and Jacob Westlin, National Association of Wheat Growers

As the farm bill debate begins to heat up, NAWG will reflect on how the 2018 Farm Bill implementation has impacted farmers and review the critical issues going into the next reauthorization. The farm bill provides farmers with the certainty and stability they need to continue producing a safe and nutritious food supply. However, once a farm bill is signed into law, the show goes on, and the federal rulemaking process plays a crucial role in implementation.

All About Barley

Experts in the barley industry will take an in-depth look at expanding opportunities for growers in the Pacific Northwest. What are the economic and demographic forces driving demand today? From new opportunities with barley protein concentrate to other barley marketing opportunities and best practices, this session will cover opportunities and advances with barley.

Grain Shipping On Our Rivers

Kristin Meira, Pacific Northwest Waterways Association

Grain is king when it comes to the commodities that move on the Columbia and Snake rivers. This wide-ranging presentation will feature the latest updates about infrastructure projects planned for our working rivers, what’s really happening on the Snake River and hot topics like the Columbia River Treaty and litigation in the courtroom. Rail and barge shippers alike will find value in this session that affects all Northwest growers.

Wheat Market Outlook

Randy Fortenbery, Washington State University

Dr. Randy Fortenbery’s research program focuses on agricultural price performance in local and national markets, as well as the impact of future actions on the stability of cash prices. This session will focus on current market situations for wheat and issues/opportunities for the remainder of the crop year and into 2022.

Embracing What Makes Us UNIQUE. Overlaying Plant Health and Yield Components in the PNW Growing Environment

Cat Salois, The McGregor Co.

2021 was a year of extremes, but should the extremes alter your management plan? In this session, we will take a look at the recent growing season and discuss management decisions and input options moving forward in the unique Pacific Northwest.

Weather the Storm in Agriculture: How to Cultivate a Productive Mindset

Bracken Henderson and Lance Hansen, University of Idaho

Agriculture is a stressful occupation and ranks among the most hazardous industries. Along with the job hazards, farmers and ranchers deal with many other stressors that impact their physical and mental health. We must learn how to manage our stress levels and reduce the effects of unwanted stress. Too much stress can make us more accident-prone, and it can affect our health. We start by learning to identify everyday stressors, recognize how unwanted stress and anxiety affect us personally and take action to manage stress in our own lives and on the farm. Doing these things will make our workplaces safer and improve the quality of our lives.

Financial Planning and the Role of Trust

T. Michael Tallman, Community First Bank/HFG Trust

This session will provide the tools necessary for estate planning and discuss what the role of a trust is in today’s environment.

Crop Insurance Panel Discussion

Representatives from the RMA, NCIS and industry

The 2021 crop year underscored the importance of crop insurance, as well as challenges. Join us for this timely and informative discussion on crop insurance, as well as opportunities to best position your operation to manage risk.

Cultivating Resilience on the Farm: How to Get Unstuck

Lesley Kelly

Farming throws curveballs at us where we have to weather many storms. We all strive toward a life full of meaning, but when we face the inevitable obstacle, it’s how we bounce back that matters. In this presentation, Lesley shares strategies of what resilient people do during hard times and everyday, ordinary strategies that not only helped her overcome a tragedy, but helped her farm bounce back, from being stuck to unstuck.

Exports and Overseas Markets Post-COVID-19

Darren Padget, U.S. Wheat Associates

U.S. Wheat Associates will discuss how the markets have changed, and how COVID-19 affected how U.S. wheat conducts business, with an emphasis on how to move forward.

Ag and the Proposed Biden Tax Plan

Ryan Janke, Leffel, Otis & Warwick, P.S.

Key highlights of the proposed Biden Administration tax changes and their impact on the ag industry. What is the effect on your operation, and what discussions should begin now in anticipation of the new regulations?

High Prices Cure High Prices. Is it Time to Lock In?

Kevin Duling, KD Investors LLC

In this session, we will go over how to lock in long-term profits using various marketing tools, plus glance at the world market to help make decisions. You won’t want to miss this timely and informative discussion.

Regional Research in Support of Developing Carbon Market Opportunities

Chad Kruger, Washington State University

There are many possible soil carbon-based incentive programs or market mechanisms that may emerge in the future that PNW farmers can participate in. However, for our farmers to participate, we need to have some basic information on how our environment, production systems and management practices impact soil carbon. Chad will describe a number of efforts to advance research in the region on the state of agricultural soil carbon.

Agriculture and the Developing Carbon Market Opportunities

Shelby Myers, American Farm Bureau Federation

As agriculture takes on strategies to mitigate climate change, carbon and ecosystem services markets have emerged as one of the voluntary, market-based incentive options to help with conservation practice adoption. But with so many programs announced and very little information available, it can be difficult to know if this is the right decision for you and your farm. Shelby breaks down the carbon and ecosystem services market landscape as new developments and programs emerge to help you navigate this option.

Looking to the Future: A PNW Variety Testing Panel Discussion

Dr. Kurtis Schroeder and Dr. Juliet Marshall, University of Idaho; Ryan Coombs Graebner, Oregon State University; and Clark Neely, Washington State University

Our land-grant institutions at the University of Idaho, Oregon State University and Washington State University provide growers and the agribusiness industry with comprehensive information on the adaptation and performance of wheat and barley varieties across the vastly different climatic regions of the Pacific Northwest. Join this panel discussion to learn of the research underway, and what lies ahead for the variety testing programs.