Get involved

By Anthony Smith
President, Washington Association of Wheat Growers

wheat field

As I grow older, I look back at my early days of farming. I was full of ideas, ambitious, and willing to put in the time. It took some trial and error, but we introduced GPS to the farm, streamed fertilizers, and implemented no-till and minimal tillage practices. Now, I look ahead and wonder what’s next in wheat farming. It’s always changing, and we don’t want to get left behind. That’s why I encourage young producers to get involved with the industry through county meetings, trips to Olympia, Washington Association of Wheat Growers’ (WAWG) monthly board meetings, wheat variety trial tours, and the Washington Grain Commission Research Review. We need younger producers with new ideas. We want to hear their concerns.

You can get involved even if you aren’t on a farm. If you have a career in the wheat industry, such as in trucking, as a fieldman, in equipment sales, work at an elevator, work for the Farm Service Agency or the Natural Resources Conservation Service, heck, even as a general laborer — the list goes on and on — you are welcome to join us. For those who are approaching their senior year in high school, why not apply to be one of our wheat ambassadors? It’s a great start to your wheat career, plus there’s scholarship money! There’s also the 15×40 program that we offer for the annual convention. Producers who are younger than 40 and have never been to the convention before can attend for free. We’ll even take care of your hotel room. You’ll also get a free WAWG membership for a year. The producers I know that have taken advantage of the 15×40 program had a great time and contributed valuable insights to WAWG.

And then there’s the Agricultural Market and Management Organization (AMMO), which offers some great learning experiences during the winter. While the sessions are open to anyone, there is a small fee for nonmembers. See page 34 for more about this year’s AMMO schedule.

In just a couple of weeks, we’ll be off to Olympia to talk to legislators from both sides of the aisle about our priorities and concerns. It would be great to get some young producers to join us. If you are nervous that you won’t know what to do, don’t be. Every meeting will include at least one seasoned WAWG veteran, and you’ll be briefed on the issues to be discussed and provided handouts.

I remember the first time Chad Smith — past-president of the Benton County Wheat Growers — and I went to Olympia to lobby for the industry with WAWG. We were very uncertain as to what to expect. We got our priority list and a list of the legislative meetings we were attending. Once the nerves settled down, we had very informative discussions with the legislators we met with. Maybe they didn’t agree with all of our priorities, but they listened and asked questions. Like I always say, legislators want to hear from us, the growers. If you or someone you know wants to join us in Olympia this year, please call the WAWG office at (509) 659-0610 for more information.

Just remember, farmers are getting older, and we need the next generation to step up and get involved.