Source: National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG)

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) is the recipient of the National Association of Wheat Growers' 2010 Wheat Leader of the Year Award, the wheat industry's highest public service award.

Murray was nominated by her home state's grower association because of her history of providing leadership in the areas of agricultural research funding; her support for farm bill programs and trade agreements; and her advocacy on behalf of funding to improve the Columbia and Snake River systems.

"I am pleased to be able to present this award to Sen. Murray," said Jerry McReynolds, NAWG president and a wheat producer from Woodston, Kan. "We need champions in Congress like Sen. Murray to lead and help educate new Members who are coming in and may not know the value agriculture research and transportation infrastructure contribute to a successful farm economy."

Murray's nomination was approved by the NAWG Domestic and Trade Policy Committee and the NAWG board of directors. A member of Murray's staff accepted her award on her behalf at an awards dinner held Tuesday evening as part of the ongoing Wheat Industry Winter Conference in Washington, D.C.

"Sen. Murray has been a friend of Washington wheat for many years, and we're proud to see her efforts recognized nationally," said Brett Blankenship, past president of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers and a producer from Adams County, Wash.

The Wheat Leader of the Year Award is given annually by NAWG to one Member of Congress based on his or her demonstrated commitment to the well-being and goals of the wheat industry.

Previous Wheat Leaders include Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) (2009 and 2007); Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) (2008 and 2002); Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.) (2006); Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) (2005); Rep. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) (2004); Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) (2003); Rep. Larry Combest (R-Texas) (2001); Rep. George Nethercutt (R-Wash.) (2000); and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) (1999).

Representatives from NAWG member-states will also be distributing other public service awards given by NAWG on behalf of the wheat industry as they visit Capitol Hill offices this week.

The Wheat Advocate Award is given annually to Members of Congress who have demonstrated support for the wheat industry above and beyond the norm.

Those receiving 2010 Wheat Advocate awards include:

  • Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.)

  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)

  •  Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.)

  • Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)

  • Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.)

  • Rep. Tim Holden (D-Pa.)

  • Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.)

  • Rep. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.)

  • Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.)

The Friend of Wheat Award is given annually by NAWG for superior action in support of the goals and policies of the wheat industry. This award is given to Congressional and administrative staff members who have demonstrated support for the wheat industry above and beyond the norm.

The 2010 Friend of Wheat Awards are being awarded to:

  • Sarah Bittleman - USDA Office of the Secretary

  • Jake Kuhns - Rep. Tim Holden (D-Pa.)

  • Carrie Meadows - Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.)

  • Riley Scott - Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.)

  • Mike Seyfert - Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.)

  • Anne Simmons - House Agriculture Committee

  • Kay Simmons - USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS)

  • Dave White - USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

Awards that couldn't be delivered to winners during lastweek's activities in Washington will be presented to Members and staff in the coming weeks.

More about the Congressional awards, including more information about past winners, is available here.