Largest Wheat State Drops Out of NAWG

North Dakota Grain Growers are withdrawing from the national wheat org. ( Charles Johnson )

A long-running dispute between the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and its largest state membership org has come to a head. The North Dakota Grain Growers Association (NDGGA) on Tuesday announced it will withdraw from NAWG at the end of June.

“After months of careful consideration, the North Dakota Grain Growers Association has decided to withdraw from the National Association of Wheat Growers,” NDGGA President Jeff Mertz said in a statement released with the withdrawal letter. “Although we’ve enjoyed a beneficial partnership with NAWG since 1977, in recent years we’ve seen a decline in support for issues specifically affecting North Dakota. Considering North Dakota has consistently paid some of the highest dues out of all states represented by NAWG, we believe we’re no longer seeing an adequate return on investment and have decided not to renew our contract that expires June 30, 2019. NAWG still provides value to producers on a national level. However, our foremost focus is on North Dakota farmers, and at this time we believe we can better represent their best interests by investing our resources elsewhere.”

NDGGA had been paying up to 80% of its annual budget to NAWG in dues. But, a statement by NAWG President Ben Scholz indicates those full dues have not been paid in recent years.

“The past two years North Dakota put their interests ahead of all wheat growers across the country by withholding half their dues, making it difficult to carry out the overall mission of the org,” Scholz said in the statement.

“NAWG leadership and staff did everything possible to address NDGGA’s concerns, from private briefings to ramped up communications to our states to traveling to North Dakota with a third-party facilitator to address issues, and yet they have still decided to resign their membership,” Scholz said. “As the President of a trade association, it always disappoints me when one of our members isn’t pleased with productivity… It is unfortunate that a major wheat-producing state, who provided unique insight into national policy and influenced others in the industry, won’t be moving forward with NAWG.”

NDGGA had been pushing NAWG to be more proactive on policy issues and for more representation on the NAWG board according to earlier reporting from the Red River Farm Network.

NDGGA President Jeff Mertz will talk about the split from NAWG on the AgriTalk Radio Show Tuesday afternoon at 2:06 p.m. Central.