The North Dakota Grain Growers Association has voted to withdraw from the National Association of Wheat Growers.

The change will be effective June 30.

Association President Jeff Mertz says the decision came after nearly three years of negotiations with NAWG. The North Dakota group did not feel the national group was representing them fairly on policy issues in Washington, D.C. For example, he says that the NAWG failed during 2008 Farm Bill discussions to lobby about a quality loss provision in the crop insurance program because it did not impact the southern wheat producing states. All that was needed to get the issue into the bill was a letter of support from NAWG.

“We couldn’t muster enough support to get a letter for quality,” he says.

Mertz also cited return on investment as a reason to leave NAWG, given the subsantial amount paid annually in dues to NAWG. The North Dakota Grain Growers Association feels they can better represent themselves in lobbying and have hired an individual to carry out their policy priorities. North Dakota, he points out, is the No. 1 wheat producing and exporting state.

Mertz refuted suggestions that the parting of the two organizations came after hard feelings about the outcome of the national NAWG election some six years ago. Most North Dakota Grain Growers Association members are active farmers, which does not make it feasible for them to run for the national executive committee, he says.

“If you’re part of a national organization shouldn’t have to have someone on executive committee in order to get representation,” Mertz says.

He says the North Dakota Grain Growers Association has been paying only half of their membership dues since 2016 when they first made the decision based on the drought cutting production and acreage. They wanted to continue that practice this year to allow time for negotiations, but the NAWG board voted it down.

Mertz says the North Dakota Grain Growers Association is open to rejoining NAWG in the future if the problems can be worked out.

“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 third-party facilitator to address issues, and yet they have still decided to resign their membership. As the president of a trade association, it always disappoints me when one of our members isn’t pleased with productivity,” says NAWG president Ben Scholz.

Source: Michelle Rook, Agweek