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Checkoff results announced

Minnesota wheat producers turned out in record numbers to elect three directors to the Minnesota Wheat Council. There was a good turnout for the annual election, but the Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers is disappointed more growers did not ...

Minnesota wheat producers turned out in record numbers to elect three directors to the Minnesota Wheat Council. There was a good turnout for the annual election, but the Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers is disappointed more growers did not vote in the referendum. By a narrow margin, the proposed change in the current wheat checkoff was rejected.

"Obviously we are disappointed that the check-off change did not pass and it's a set-back to the stepped up variety development and research that was being planned" said Bryan Hest, President of the Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers.

The proposal was to change the wheat check-off calculation from 1 cent/ bushel to .5% of the net value of the wheat sold. The proposal would have increased the investment in wheat research with a primary goal of increasing yields by 27% over 15 years. The referendum failed by 14 votes, 145 to 131.

Although the proposal failed, Hest was encouraged by the overwhelming support for increasing the investment in wheat research, even by the growers who were opposed to the proposal. By law, growers need to wait a year before they can vote on a new proposal that could increase the investment in wheat research. Hest says he doesn't know what his board of directors will decide to do. If they do decide to develop a new proposal and vote on it next year, Hest believes it will pass.

"We need more time to get input from more growers and to come up with a new process for voting. If we do that, I believe it would pass based on the strong support we heard for research." says Hest.

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"We worked hard to inform all growers about the vote and to explain the reasoning behind it" says Hest. "Wheat growers knew about the vote and no one criticized us for keeping it quiet. Because of the late fall and drawn-out harvest, we found it difficult or almost impossible to meet with growers face-to-face to explain the proposal, so not all the questions were answered."

The Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers is committed to work with all segments of the industry to move the wheat industry forward. The Board of Directors of both wheat organizations extend thanks all the growers who participated in the Prairie Grains Conference and voted in the election and referendum. The conference enjoyed record attendance.

Rhonda K. Larson (incumbent), East Grand Forks and Tim Sedlacek, Warren, were elected to serve a three year term and to represent the northern district on the Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotion Council board. Pete Kappes, Ada, was also elected to serve another term for the central district. They will join six other wheat producers in administering the Minnesota wheat check-off.

The other candidates for the northern district were Carter Hontvet, Warroad and Eric Erdman, Crookston. "It was great to see the willingness of all these candidates step forward and volunteer their time in an effort to improve Minnesota's wheat industry," said Art Brandli, Minnesota Wheat Council Board Member from Warroad.

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