Calling all producers

There’ll be something for everyone at the 2019 Tri-State Grain Growers Convention

When: Nov. 13-16
Where: Davenport Grand Hotel, Spokane, Wash.
What: Register here

It hardly seems possible, but once again, the annual Tri-State Grain Growers Convention is almost here.

This year’s gathering will be held at the Davenport Grand Hotel in Spokane, Wash., Nov. 13-16. As in years past, the convention will offer producers a mix of policy updates, entertainment and education, not to mention a healthy dose of networking and socializing.

“The convention is one of the highlights of the year. It’s an opportunity for producers to get out of the field and hear from some of the top policy leaders and experts in the agricultural world,” said Michelle Hennings, executive director of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG). “The wheat organizations of Washington, Oregon and Idaho work all year putting the convention schedule together. There will be something for everyone to enjoy and learn from.”

The 2019 Tri-State Grain Growers Convention is sponsored by WAWG, the Oregon Wheat Growers League and the Idaho Grain Producers Association.

The convention is also an opportunity for WAWG leaders to review policy resolutions with members, which helps direct the organization’s efforts for the coming year. The WAWG all-committee meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 14, at 9:30 a.m. All WAWG members are encouraged to attend to provide input.

“WAWG is a member-led organization, so it is imperative that we hear from our producer members on the issues that are important to them,” Hennings said. “If a member has a concern but can’t attend the committee meeting, they are welcome to call the WAWG office at (509) 659-0610 and speak to one of our employees. We can take that information to the meeting for them.”

Convention goers will jump right into the policy deep end, as the first full day of the event kicks off with a national wheat organization panel to discuss national ag issues. The panel will be moderated by Philip Brasher, executive editor for Agri-Pulse. 

Stephen Censky, deputy secretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has been invited to talk about implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill and other U.S. Department of Agriculture grower programs, and nationally known speakers, Peter Zeihan and Jim Morris, will be giving keynote addresses. Mark Peterson, KXLY weatherman, will provide a long-term weather forecast for the Pacific Northwest. Comedian and armchair philosopher Chad Prather will be emceeing the convention.

Breakout sessions will cover topics as diverse as herbicide resistance; farm bill program choice; canola production and marketing in the Pacific Northwest; commodity markets and family farm transitions.

The annual auction and dinner on Friday, Nov. 15, will provide a wealth of Christmas shopping opportunities and a chance to help support the educational efforts of the three state’s industry organizations. If you’d like to donate an item to either the silent or live auction, please contact the Washington Wheat Foundation at (509) 234-5824.

Two popular programs will be returning this year: the photo contest and the 15×40 program. 

The 15×40 program offers a free convention registration to 15 Washington state producers under 40 years of age who haven’t attended the convention before. This is a first-come, first-served program, and it tends to fill up quickly. Besides a convention registration, if the participant isn’t a WAWG member, he or she will get a one-year paid association membership. Producers will be responsible for travel and lodging costs. To register, call the WAWG office at (509) 659-0610.

The grand prize in our photo contest will be a free registration to the 2020 Tri-State Grain Growers Convention, which will be held in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Winning photos may be used in 2020 marketing materials and will be published in Wheat Life, Oregon Wheat and Idaho Grain magazines. Entries will be displayed throughout the 2019 convention area. Contest is open to convention registrants only, and photos must have been taken within the last 12 months. Submissions must be received by noon, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, at the convention registration desk. All entries must be matted in an 8×10 format (no glass). On the back, please write photographer’s name, contact and caption information. For more information, please contact Lori Williams at or by phone at (509) 659-0610.

Early bird registration for the Davenport Grand Hotel ends Oct. 18, 2019. The Davenport is located in downtown Spokane, Wash., within walking distance of theaters, art galleries, restaurants and shopping. Guests of the Davenport Grand will have full access to the pools at the company’s other properties—The Historic Davenport Hotel and The Davenport Tower. Also located at the Historic Davenport Hotel is the Davenport Spa and Salon. The concierge desk can help arrange transportation (based on availability) to the other properties.

Registration and a complete convention schedule is available here. Here’s a closer look at some of the breakout sessions scheduled for the 2019 convention:

• 2018 Farm Bill and the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) of the Future by Roylene Comes at Night, Washington state conservationist; Jay Gibbs, Oregon state conservationist; Curtis Elke, Idaho state conservationist. Now that programs under the 2018 Farm Bill are being implemented, what changes should growers expect? What is the future of programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Conservation Stewardship Program? Join state conservationists in this educational breakout to discuss critical conservation efforts, policy and the NRCS of the future.

• What is on the Horizon? A Barley Breeders Panel with Robert Brueggeman, Washington State University Robert A. Nilan Endowed Chair in Barley Research and Education; Dr. Patrick Hayes, Oregon State University barley breeder; Dr. Gongshe Hu, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Aberdeen, Idaho, barley breeding program; Michael McKay, McKay Seed Company director of research. If you are a Pacific Northwest (PNW) grain grower, brewer, maltster or an interested and enthusiastic beer drinker, our PNW breeding programs play an integral part in barley and beer industries. Join barley breeders and industry experts as they tackle everything from malting barley varieties to meet the growing demand of craft brewers, to food barley varieties and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for PNW barley growers. 

• Making the Case for Food Barley with Dr. Corrie Whisner, assistant professor at Arizona State University, and Bryce McKay, McKay Seed Company director of marketing. We know Pacific Northwest (PNW) barley contributes to tasty beer, but did you know barley is a rich source of soluble fiber and aids in good gut health? Come hear from the experts as they delve into the benefits of barley in the human diet, along with what initiatives are underway to promote food barley consumption in the PNW and beyond. 

• DIY Workshop with Creative Fix + Co. Create your own wall-worthy décor in a fun, easy, DIY-workshop setting. Choose from farm-themed options—artistic ability not required and all supplies provided. $25 payable at the door. Class limited to the first 25 to arrive to the session.

• Commodity Market Situation and Outlook by Randy Fortenbery, Washington State University. Marketing strategies are essential to manage your risk. In this session, we will look at market behaviors, price dynamics and market opportunities moving forward. What is the outlook for the coming year, and what strategies should you put in place?

• Grain Shipping on Our Rivers by Kristin Meira, Pacific Northwest Waterways Association. Grain is king when it comes to the commodities that move on the Columbia and Snake rivers. This presentation will feature the latest updates about infrastructure projects planned for our working rivers, what’s really happening on the Snake River, and how the Columbia River Treaty negotiations are important to future shippers.

• Family Farm Transition – Limited Growth by Shackling the Next Generation by Brenik Iverson, Leffel, Otis & Warwick, P.S. Family-owned farmland is the heart of many estates. How the land is transitioned to the next generation can have lasting effects on future growth for on-farm successors. This session will explore issues and solutions related to “tying down the family land” for future generations.

• What Advancements Lie Ahead for Crop Production? Understanding molecular biology and genomics is a promising field. Plant genomics has sped up the ability to provide advanced research and data on plant biology. This new insight in molecular biology helps us understand the plant’s structure, how it functions, and its evolution. Don’t miss this innovative and thought-provoking discussion.