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Change Challenges Washington Wheat Growers

PULLMAN, Wash. — Farming in an environment of change will continue to challenge Washington wheat growers, George Wood, Washington Association of Wheat Growers president, told about 100 growers June 9 at the 81st annual field day at Washington State University’s Dryland Research Station.

Wood spoke of change on three fronts, the physical environment, the political environment, and the economic environment.

“When looking at changes in our physical environment there is one thing we know — regulations regarding soil, air and water have affected agricultural operations and we can expect more of the same,” Wood said.

He said the urban vision for the future will dominate and urged farmers to look for win-win solutions with those who have a different blueprint for their vision for the quality of life.

“My hope is that the number of agencies that a farmer has to deal with is as few as possible and that they will use more carrot and less stick.”

Wood noted agriculture’s declining political clout and declining funds for ag research in each new budget. “Agricultural clout in the state legislature is also diminishing,” Wood said. “No disrespect is intended, but we have a governor and several department heads with little exposure to production agriculture. These leaders can be surrounded by advisors with one-sided visions of our environment.”

In other action at the Lind field day, Karl Felgenhauer, chair of the Washington Wheat Commission, announced that wheat growers have entered into preliminary negotiations with WSU to create an endowed chair to conduct research on how no-till can be adapted for control of both wind erosion and water erosion in a way that will preserve not only natural resources but protect profitability.

It would be fully endowed with $1.5 million dollars. Discussions with WSU are in preliminary stages.

–Kevin Starring presented a $5,000 check for the Lind Dryland Research Station Endowment. It was a gift from the Union Elevator & Warehouse Co., Lind, and its employees.

–Harry Burcalow, WSU’s associate dean and associate director for Cooperative Extension, received an etched glass serving plate in recognition of his many years’ service. Burcalow has announced his retirement.

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