Gov. Butch Otter has appointed third-generation barley grower Mike Wilkins of Rupert to the three-member Idaho Barley Commission.
Wilkins began his three-year term as south central Idaho commissioner July 1. He succeeds Picabo-area grower Pat Purdy, who completed his second of two allowed three-year terms June 30.
Wilkins is a third-generation farmer, producing barley, sugar beets and alfalfa. He has been a longtime leader in Magic Valley water issues, serving on the Minidoka Irrigation District Board and the Committee of Nine, which participated in crafting a key agreement between surface and groundwater users on the Snake Plain Aquifer, the commission said in a release.
“Barley has been a good crop for my family farm and I want to give back to this dynamic industry,” Wilkins said. “I am sure I will enjoy associating with my peers and learning from their experiences on the board and in the industry. I will make every effort to reach out to producers across the state’s second largest barley-growing region.”
Commission Chairman Wes Hubbard of Bonners Ferry said Wilkins brings considerable experience and is well respected for his work in helping to resolve longstanding water-rights disputes on the Snake River Plain, where more than 90 percent of Idaho’s barley is grown. “South-central Idaho barley producers are fortunate to have Wilkins’ talents, experience and enthusiasm working on their behalf,” he said.
Wilkins was nominated for the appointment by the Idaho Grain Producers Association’s county organizations. The dues-funded IGPA is separate from the Idaho Barley Commission, which collects a 3-cent-per-bushel checkoff at the first point of sale for research, market development and grower education. Idaho has around 4,000 barley producers.
Wilkins will work on securing funding for barley research and development, he said in an interview.
“Pat was doing that a lot,” he said, referring to Purdy’s key role in establishing the Idaho Barley Research Endowment at the University of Idaho.
Barley growers and the commission in June completed a five-year effort to fully fund an endowment for a permanent UI barley research agronomist for southern Idaho. They in turn made another five-year commitment to fund a post-doctoral research position assisting the research agronomist.
Wilkins, 57, said has no agenda other than to “listen and learn … and to do a good job to help people out.”
He and his son, Dusty, run the 1,400-acre M&D Farm, where the main crop is malt barley.