At their county meeting in January, Franklin County wheat growers elected a new representative for the Washington Association of Wheat Growers’ (WAWG) board of directors. Ben Cochrane is the 5th generation to work on the family’s farm in Kahlotus, Wash.
“I’m excited to be a part of WAWG. I’m looking forward to being a contributing member,” Cochrane said.
Cochrane graduated from Kahlotus High School and Washington State University (WSU) where he was in the Air Force ROTC. After graduation, he was stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, as an Air Force Tactical Air Control Party officer. He said he always knew he wanted to come back to Eastern Washington to farm.
“When I was graduating college and going into the Air Force, people asked how long I planned to be in the military. I said until I’m done and ready to start farming. I met my wife, and we decided that military life wasn’t as conducive to having a family,” he explained. The couple returned to the farm in 2015. His wife, Samantha, is a teacher at the Kahlotus Elementary School.
From his position on the WAWG board of directors, Cochrane will be taking Franklin County growers’ opinions and needs to the state level and elevating his “little section of the world,” so its voice is better heard. He’s also looking forward to becoming more involved in advocating for growers and learning how the association works with legislators.
Cochrane is a graduate of AgForestry (Class of 41), which he said prepared him for dealing with the legislative process and showing him how interconnected the agriculture industry is in Washington state. AgForestry also taught him how important it is for farmers to tell their story.
“One of the things I’m going to try to push for is to get more young wheat growers to go into the program (AgForestry),” he said. “I think the importance of farming is not as embraced, especially in the public eye. There’s just so much information out there that farmers can get painted in a less-than-forgiving light of hurting the environment or not caring about the environment. Farmers spend a lot of time thinking about how what we are doing affects the soil and water. I think we just don’t do a very good job of selling ourselves as being stewards of the land.”
In his sparse spare time, Cochrane enjoys attending WSU football games and hunting.