Grain group leaves NAWG

Grain group leaves NAWG
May 24, 2019

The North Dakota Grain Growers Association will no longer be a member of the National Association of Wheat Growers after June 30

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

A national wheat group will have one fewer member by the beginning of July.

The North Dakota Grain Growers Association (NDGGA) announced it won’t renew its contract with the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) after the current one expires on June 30. The NDGGA has been a part of NAWG since 1977.

Several reasons contributed to the group’s departure. A lack of a return on investment is among the main ones, said Jeff Mertz, president of NDGGA.

“All the other ag groups are set up where the number of delegates you have is based on the amount of money you pay,” he told “NAWG is set up like a senate-style governance where you only have two votes, so whoever is paying US$200,000 (per year) has the same number of votes as whoever is paying US$20,000 (per year).”

The adaptability and flexibility of NAWG appeared to be declining as well, Mertz said.

Going forward, independent lobbyists will represent NDGGA’s interests in Washington.

The organization borrowed the idea from the National Barley Growers Association, who had success with a similar course of action.

“The barley organization spend between US$140,000 and US$150,000 on a lobbying group and they got more in some farm bills than the national wheat organization,” Mertz said. “It just shows there are better and different ways of doing things.”

NAWG is disappointed with the North Dakota group’s decision.

The national wheat group made every effort to work with NDGGA to retain them as a member, said Ben Schloz, president of NAWG.

“NAWG leadership and staff did everything possible to address NDGGA’s concerns, from private briefings to ramped up communications to our states to traveling to North Dakota with a third-party facilitator to address issues, and yet they have still decided to resign their membership,” he said in a statement. “As the president of a trade association, it always disappoints me when one of our members isn’t pleased with productivity.”

NDGGA also acted selfishly in recent years, Schloz said.

“The past two years North Dakota put their interests ahead of all wheat growers across the county by withholding half their dues, making it difficult to carry out the overall mission of the organization,” he said.

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