Word on Wheat: Planting Seeds For Wheat Industry Growth

December 18, 2009 Bookmark and Share

Daren Coppock, NAWG Chief Executive Officer

Nobody knows better than wheat farmers the process of planting, watering (or praying for rain), fertilizing, weeding and anticipating the coming harvest. While each step is necessary, there is a period of waiting between each one.

The concept is not unique to farming – the apostle Paul referred to planting seeds, having Apollos water them and relying on God for the growth. It’s also true in the world of wheat organizations: many people make contributions along the way to the strategic goals of the industry, and very frequently those who plant the seeds are no longer directly involved when they mature into a harvestable crop.

NAWG’s path toward its strategic goals has been similar. It began with a vision from wheat growers nearly 60 years ago that unifying their voices and energies nationally would provide benefits to producers across the country. Since that time, many growers have volunteered their time, resources, talents and leadership to make the wheat story a successful one.

During my time as NAWG’s chief executive, I’ve had the privilege of working with a number of outstanding people in the officer chairs, on the Board of Directors and staff in NAWG’s Washington office. I’ve also been able to work with many fine people affiliated with U.S. Wheat Associates, the Wheat Foods Council, WETEC and state organizations.

And, as we’ve expanded our work beyond simply the interests of wheat growers, we’ve developed very strong partnerships with the North American Millers’ Association, the American Bakers Association, the National Wheat Improvement Committee and USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and National Institute for Food & Agriculture, all of which will hopefully continue into the coming years.

One of the chapters from my time at NAWG that I’m most pleased with is the movement toward introducing new technology in wheat. Very deliberate efforts on the part first of growers and then others in the value chain have led to fruitful work on new technology, with all sectors of the industry coming together to seek solutions and share perspectives through the Wheat Summit process. The collaboration has also reached across international lines to link up with producers in Canada and Australia for work toward mutually beneficial solutions. Customers have been and will continue to be a key part of that conversation.

As NAWG continues to address key national policy issues for wheat growers, it will be important to build on the foundations already laid and maintain momentum. Much work has gone into our platforms on biotechnology, rail policy, domestic farm programs, research appropriations and climate change policy, as well as our relationships with allied organizations, the Commodity Classic, the NAWG Foundation and industry partners, to name a few. In a world where agriculture makes up a smaller and smaller share of the population, wheat growers must seek strategic alliances wherever possible to expand our reach.

Having grown up on a wheat farm and worked for more than 20 years in wheat and barley organizations, I have a deep affection for this industry and wish it and its members every success for the future. The many friendships I have in this business are treasures I will carry with me as I move on, and I have great faith in the grower leadership of the organization to select a new executive to take NAWG to the next level.

My parting request to the membership is that you continue to provide the necessary time, resources, talents and leadership to enable NAWG’s success in the years to come.

– Coppock, NAWG’s CEO since 2001, will leave the organization at the end of the year and become the new chief executive officer and president at the Agricultural Retailers Association.