While the thunder may have been rolling and friends were being found in low places at the nearby Spokane, Wash., arena*, at the Davenport Grand Hotel, the 2017 Tri-State Grain Growers Convention was bringing together more than 450 Pacific Northwest grain producers, industry stakeholders and exhibitors to network and hear the latest in politics, weather and technology.
“We had an outstanding turnout for this year’s convention. We got a lot of business done and heard from some great speakers,” said Michelle Hennings, executive director of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG). “Our staff, both at WAWG and the Washington Grain Commission, and the staffs at Oregon and Idaho have put in hundreds of hours over the past year to make sure the annual convention offers something for everyone at a great value.”
Convention attendees had the chance to listen to Peter Zeihan talk about global politics and the United States’ influence and position in the world and how that might affect agriculture (see page 26), while Matt Roberts zeroed in on the internal politics of the current U.S. administration (see page 27). A panel of Pacific Northwest ag directors discussed how their departments are working to protect and expand the agricultural industry in their states (see page 30), while another panel looked at agricultural issues from a national level. Break-out sessions covered the farm bill (see page 20), dams and other water issues, risk management, marketing and how to use all that precision ag data that is being gathered.
WAWG took the opportunity to hold an all-committee meeting to review and update the association’s resolutions (see page 14), hear updates from the Risk Management Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the National Association of Wheat Growers and the Washington State Conservation Commission. WAWG members were also introduced to Brian Dansel, the new state executive director for the Farm Service Agency.
Some business carried over into the Washington awards banquet, where outgoing president Ben Adams of Coulee City officially handed over the gavel to incoming president Marci Green of Fairfield. Jeff Shawver of Connell moved up into the vice president’s position, while Ryan Poe of Hartline stepped into the secretary/treasurer’s position.
“I want to thank the people who made it possible for me to serve this past year—my wife, my kids and my long-term employees,” Adams said. “I also want to thank the other WAWG officers who made it a pleasure serving as president and traveling across the country advocating for our industry.”
The 2018 Washington Wheat ambassadors were also introduced at the banquet. Lexi Deishl of Waterville and Kyle Appel of Colfax gave a short presentation and were awarded scholarships (see page 12).
Awards were handed out to Spokane County as the WAWG county of the year for their increased county activity, while Past President Kevin Klein (2015/16) was named WAWG member of the year. Other awards that were handed out throughout the convention included:
• Judy von Borstel of Grass Valley, Ore., for the photo contest (see page 29);
• Brian Gering of Liberty Lake, Wash., for the early bird registration drawing;
• Sandi Swannack of Lamont, Wash., for the overall survey drawing;
• Amy McKay of LaCrosse, Wash., for exhibitor bingo;
• James Henderson of Eugene, Ore.; Larry Cochran of Colfax, Wash.; and Linda Morris of American Falls, Idaho, for the education break-out survey drawings; and
• Lynn Blair of Pasco, Wash.; Gordon Gering of Ritzville, Wash.; Marci Green of Fairfield, Wash.; Dwight Calkins Jr.; and Lexi Deishl of Waterville, Wash., as the LAF drawing winners.
The staffs of Oregon, Idaho and Washington would like to thank all the members and industry supporters who attended this year’s convention. Feedback is always welcome. Planning is already underway for next year’s convention, which will be held at the Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel in Portland, Ore., Nov. 14-17, 2018.