No matter how much you pay in dues or fees to your local wheat producers association – it’s probably not enough. Because of grower and other member contributions, state wheat groups were able to join the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and national grain commodity groups at Commodity Classic – one of the world’s most dynamic farmer-based extravaganzas.

Wheat states like Oklahoma, Kansas or North Dakota have dues that range from about $25 to $100/year, fees that get growers a seat at the table when it comes to policy making that impacts their individual farms and overall wheat policy. There are many other benefits. In Kansas, for example, members can receive a free soil test, something that can probably save what’s equal to the membership fee alone in this time of high fertilizer prices.

There are 21 state wheat associations or organizations that make up the NAWG nationwide network. Joining your local wheat grower association in an NAWG-affiliated state automatically makes you a member of the national group. If your state has an affiliated association and you are <i>not</i> a member, go to the NAWG website. There you will find information on how to join, as well as links to state associations, other wheat groups and various other aspects of NAWG policy.

NAWG’s vision statement is: “Advancing wheat through innovation and advocacy.” It’s mission is to “unite U.S. wheat growers to create beneficial policies for wheat growers; effective relationships with industry; and profitable opportunities through research and technology.”

NAWG, and representatives of state grower associations, was represented at the Commodity Classic in Tampa, FL last week. The wheat group, which also included U.S. Wheat Associates and the U.S. Wheat Foods Council, had the theme of, “Wheat – the future’s bright.”

Visitors to the NAWG trade show booth, including Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, took turns spinning a prize wheel for a chance to answer wheat-related questions and win tickets to the wheat-complex raffle for a netbook computer. Visitors also received pocket cards with key facts about wheat research, trade and economic impact to help them educate their friends, kids or coworkers on the many health benefits of wheat.

Promotional programs like that are among the many things NAWG, state and other wheat groups use to keep consumers, government policy makers and others informed on the value of wheat as the leading source of food for a hungry world and escalating population.

Your support of your local wheat association is what makes that possible. Make sure your dues are paid up in order to keep your foot in the door.