Idaho Wheat Commission, UI renew research agreement

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The Idaho Wheat Commission and University of Idaho officials announced they have signed a three-year renewal of an agreement outlining wheat research.

The commission represents wheat growers throughout the state and oversees funds generated by a self-imposed assessment on wheat sales.

For the past four years, the commission has directed more than $4.1 million to support research by UI College of Agricultural and Life Sciences scientists who address issues critical to the wheat industry.

“The commission’s investment in the college’s research is essential to providing our scientists with the support and equipment they need to help growers stay competitive,” said John C. Foltz, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences dean.

“Idaho wheat growers have stepped up their commitment to fund state-of-the art research at the University of Idaho,” said Ned Moon, Idaho Wheat Commission chairman. “New tools are available to improve varieties, control pests and manage field work, to make the Idaho wheat industry more efficient, competitive and profitable. The financial support from Idaho wheat growers to the UI has averaged over $1 million annually each of the past four years.”

Two years ago, the Idaho Wheat Commission announced it would fund two $1 million endowments to support UI wheat breeding and UI Extension cereal agronomy based at the college’s Aberdeen Research and Extension Center.

This spring, the commission voted to support a new faculty wheat molecular geneticist who will expand college wheat variety development efforts into the new realm of bioinformatics and computational biology. Donn Thill, Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station director, said the commission pledged to support the new position for three years.

“This new position will put UI at the forefront of efforts to focus new variety development on using new tools to identify and incorporate genetic traits, which will improve and accelerate the creation of new wheats tailored to grower and consumer needs,” Thill said.

In addition to the endowments, the commission boosted its level of support for the college’s research after the previous three-year agreement, Thill said. The commission, reflecting support from its wheat growing constituents, invested in equipment, buying two $175,000 combines to help researchers at Moscow and Aberdeen.

Idaho Wheat Commission members met on the university’s Moscow campus this week. The meeting included a tour of the campus computer facilities operated by the Institute for Bioinformatics and Evolutionary Studies.

Part of the commission’s agenda also included a farewell to retiring member Joe Anderson of Potlatch. He advocated for the commission-funded endowments and supported a close working relationship with the university.


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