BOISE — After being delayed for two years, a proposed rule change that Idaho Wheat Commission officials say will benefit Idaho grain farmers will be re-introduced during the 2018 legislative session.
IWC and Idaho Grain Producers Association board members last week agreed to move forward with the proposed rule change, which would require first purchasers of Idaho wheat, such as elevators, to submit the names and contact information of all growers to the commission.
The commission’s enabling legislation gives it the authority to have that information but it currently lacks the mechanism to collect it, so the IWC only has a partial data base of Idaho wheat growers, said IWC Executive Director Blaine Jacobson.
“The (IWC) has a statutory responsibility to educate Idaho wheat growers and to conduct periodic referendums of Idaho wheat growers on how their checkoff dollars are being spent,” Jacobson told Capital Press in an email.
He said the Idaho attorney general’s office “has strongly encouraged us to get this fix done so that we can fulfill our statutory responsibilities.”
Other farm commissions have the ability to collect grower names and contact information and “this rule change will give us the same tools that other commissions have,” said IWC board member Bill Flory, a North Idaho wheat farmer.
The IWC initially proposed the rule change during the 2016 legislative session but pulled it when it ran into opposition from some elevators.
At the recommendation of those elevators, the commission held off on its plan to re-submit the rule during the 2017 session.
Jacobson said that after two years and six negotiated rule-making meetings, the commission believes it has answered the primary concerns that some elevators and lawmakers had about the proposed rule change.
That includes whether the grower information is subject to Idaho’s public records law. It is not.
Some elevators were also concerned about how the data base would be used, so the IWC adopted a policy on that.
“In a nutshell, the grower names and addresses will only be used for the Idaho Grain magazine and to conduct the periodic referendum,” Jacobson said.
Flory said the grower list is held internally and the commission performs any mailings itself.
“It is not available to any of our partners, public or private, and that is absolute,” he said.
Dennis Capson, a merchandiser for Scoular Co., which specializes in marketing grain, said his company balked at the originally proposed rule because it also sought bushel and dollar amounts in addition to grower names and contact information.
The IWC dropped the bushel and dollar request and Scoular is now OK with the currently proposed rule.
“All they need is a name and address,” he said. “To me, that’s something they should have so the wheat commission can do its job for the growers of Idaho.”
Thresher Artisan Wheat was also opposed to the proposed rule but CEO Don Wille recently told Capital Press, “I support their decision and them going forward with it.”
“We were hesitant at first; our biggest concern was the security of that information and how it would be handled,” said Ririe Grain Manager Lee Anderson. “But they’ve done a good job of addressing those concerns.”