Honored to be your president

By Anthony Smith
President, Washington Association of Wheat Growers

wheat field

Hello all. My name is Anthony Smith, but you can call me Tony. I’m so excited to be in this position as president of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG). I farm in central Benton County, south of Prosser, in a dryland operation. My wife, Karen, and my son and daughter are very happy and supportive of me farming and being involved with WAWG. Farming with my dad and uncle paved the road to where I am now.

My dad used to bug me about running for county president. I was hesitant, but when I did, I was welcomed by my fellow Benton County wheat growers. Since then, I’ve met so many farmers, legislators, and industry leaders! 

I joined the WAWG leadership team after being approached by past presidents Andy Juris, Ryan Poe, and Howard McDonald. They asked me if I’d be interested in going through the WAWG chairs, and I said I’d be honored. All the work we do as your WAWG board, which now includes Jeff Malone, has helped us form close friendships. I was extremely grateful for my fellow board members on a recent trip to Washington, D.C., when they saved me after I got locked in the backseat of our Uber, and the driver almost drove off!

I’m still honored to this day to be representing you as president. 

Going through the chairs and traveling and meeting people, I’ve learned legislators and industry leaders want to hear from us about the issues we face. They often want to know what they can do to help us. I believe it’s important that we actively advocate for what we need, and I’m ready to do the best I can for you, the grower!

Looking forward into 2024, we’ve got a lot of issues on our plate. We still don’t have a new farm bill, and until we get one, WAWG will keep advocating for our priorities, which include increased funding for market development programs, keeping crop insurance affordable so it’s a viable safety net, and making sure conservation programs remain voluntary. Protecting the lower Snake River dams, finding a solution to the exempt fuel problem, and getting a seasonal ag exemption for the state’s overtime policy are some of our state priorities going into the 2024 Legislative Session.

Next month, we’ll be doing our annual Olympia Days trip. Our goal is to meet as many legislators from both sides of the aisle as we can in less than two days. In order to do that, though, we need growers. We like to have at least two growers for every meeting, and we’d also like to have growers from every county in Eastern Washington participate. If you are interested, please contact the WAWG office at (509) 659-0610 for more information.

As I said before, I’m honored to be here as WAWG president. These past couple of years, going through the chairs has taught me how important it is for growers to be involved in advocating for the industry. Please consider getting involved in your county group and helping guide WAWG to make Washington wheat growers stronger. 

Happy holidays and have a wonderful Christmas.