Wheat growers can make their vote count

The MDARD has authorized a referendum for a wheat program in Michigan to determine if Michigan’s wheat growers want to engage with others to help insure the profitability of growing wheat.

Michigan wheat growers will be asked to vote on a referendum to determine whether or not to establish a nine-member board that will direct funding for research and outreach.

Wheat growers in Michigan will be mailed a referendum form (which resembles a voting ballot) on June 17. To make their vote count, eligible growers must return their ballots by July 1. To be successful, at least 50 percent of the votes cast must be in favor of a Michigan Wheat Program, and those votes must represent at least 50 percent of the wheat grown by those who vote.

The proposed program calls for a maximum assessment of up to 0.5 percent of the value of the wheat sold. According to the Michigan Agribusiness Association, the average assessment will likely be 2 to 3 cents per bushel, assuming a variance of wheat prices from $3 to $5 per bushel. This is projected to generate $500,000 to $700,000 annually to fund program activities.

If the referendum passes, the program will be administered by a board of eight farmers and one industry representative, all of whom would be appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder. The board will represent wheat grower’s interests in working with Michigan State University, institutions, government entities, agribusinesses, millers and end-users, as well as identify and prioritize the needs of producers, and develop and carryout strategies for addressing specific challenges.

The funds generated by the assessment will be directed to research and outreach with hopes of creating a community of growers, researchers and industry representatives that focuses on strengthening the Michigan wheat industry by improving Michigan wheat yields, reducing grower risks related to production, sprouting and Fusarium head scab.

The program is being developed under the Michigan Agricultural Commodities Marketing Act, PA232, which allows the grower committee to make investments in a wide range of areas, including promotion, research education and market development. The official MDARD news release contains more information.

If you have questions about the referendum, contact MDARD at 800-292-3939 or Deb Merrill.

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