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CEO DATELINE – North Dakota association withdraws from wheat growers

May 8, 2019
By Walt Williams

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The North Dakota Grain Growers Association announced Tuesday that it has withdrawn from the National Association of Wheat Growers, with the state group saying it is no longer aligned with the national association on policy issues.

In a statement, NDGGA President Jeff Mertz said his association has enjoyed a beneficial partnership with NAWG since 1977. However, he added that in recent years there has been a lack of support from the national group for issues specifically affecting North Dakota.

“Considering North Dakota has consistently paid some of the highest dues out of all the states represented by NAWG, we believe we are no longer receiving adequate return on investment and have decided not to renew our contract that expires June 30, 2019,” he said.

Mertz did not spell out what issues divided the two groups but the news site Agweek said the North Dakota association believes that NAWG failed during the 2008 Farm Bill discussions to lobby about a quality loss provision in the crop insurance program. The provision did not affect southern wheat producing states, leaving North Dakota farmers to believe their concerns were ignored.

More wheat is grown in North Dakota than any other state except Kansas, but the immediate impact of the decision of NDGGA to pull out of the national association is unclear. NAWG is a $2 million-revenue association that generates the majority of its funds through dues.

NAWG President Ben Scholz said in a statement that his group did everything possible to convince the state group to stay, but the state group refused to cooperate despite the concessions made to it.

“NDGGA chose to put their own priorities ahead of the national organization, which is not how a national association can run effectively,” Scholz said. “The past two years North Dakota put their interests ahead of all wheat growers across the country by withholding half their dues, making it difficult to carry out the overall mission of the organization.”

NAWG works with 21 state wheat grower associations, although that number will drop to 20 after North Dakota leaves in June.