The commission will wait until next year to re-submit a proposed rule change that would allow the commission to have access to the names and contact information of all wheat growers in the state.
By Sean Ellis
BOISE — The Idaho Wheat Commission will hold off until next year on a proposed rule that would provide the commission access to the names and contact information of all wheat producers in the state.
The IWC originally proposed the rule in 2016 but withdrew it after some grain elevators objected to it. The commission had planned to re-submit it this year but decided to delay the proposal another year at the request of some grain elevators.
The IWC does plan to resubmit the rule during the 2018 Idaho Legislature, executive director Blaine Jacoboson told lawmakers this week.
Idaho statute gives the commission authority to have the names and contact information of wheat growers but the commission currently lacks the mechanism to collect it.
The proposed rule would require first purchasers of Idaho wheat, such as elevators, to provide the names and addresses of growers to the commission.
About half of the elevators in the state currently provide the commission that information, Jacobson said, but Idaho is the only state with a wheat commission that doesn’t have the ability to gather the contact information of all wheat growers.
That puts Idaho at a disadvantage when it comes to building the state’s wheat industry, he said.
Jacobson said having that information would also enable the commission to inform wheat producers of timely and important information, such as disease outbreaks or price premiums, as well as allow the commission to show growers how their wheat checkoff dollars are being spent.
“This is something we’re going to be asking your help with next year,” Jacobson told members of the House Agricultural Affairs Committee. “It’s something that needs to be fixed.”
The IWC proposed the rule during the 2016 Idaho legislative session but after some elevators opposed it, the commission withdrew the rule and entered into negotiated rulemaking with the elevators.
During the negotiated rulemaking meetings, some elevators, including Thresher Artisan Wheat, which owns grain elevators in Eastern Idaho, asked the commission to hold off on proposing the rule for a year to give them time to contact the producers they purchase wheat from to see if they are OK with the information being released to the commission.
Thresher CEO Don Wille said the company is in the process of asking growers that question and a majority have responded.
“A few have said ‘no’ but the majority are saying ‘yes,’” he said.
Thresher believes the release of grower information to the commission should be voluntary, Wille said.
“I don’t think it needs to be mandatory,” he said. “We’ll do this voluntarily, but I need to protect the identity of my growers if they want me to.”
IWC board member Bill Flory, a North Idaho wheat grower, said the names and contact information the commission receives from elevators is guarded closely and only used to communicate with and educate growers.
“That list is protected judiciously. It’s tightly controlled,” he said.