Matthew Weaver/Capital Press File
Paterson, Wash., wheat farmer Nicole Berg is the new secretary of the National Association of Wheat Growers.
Berg joined the officer team last week during the 2018 Commodity Classic in Anaheim, Calif.
She said it’s been a “lifelong dream” to get involved in farm bill negotiations, ever since she joined the Washington Association of Wheat Growers in the early 2000s.
“I think this is a great opportunity ... to tell the story to Congress about the farm bill, and the importance of it,” she said.
Berg believes farmers in the Pacific Northwest need a voice in the discussions.
“I don’t think this is going to be an earth-shattering farm bill,” she said.
Berg expects some “tweaks” and reform of various programs in the bill, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Conservation Reserve Program and Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage crop insurance. She hopes those changes will be a positive for farmers, she said.
Berg also said farmers must be “loud and clear” that trade is a priority. About 90 percent of wheat grown in Washington state goes overseas.
“We have to be sure to keep our customers happy,” she said.
Berg is the second woman to join NAWG’s leadership team. Whitman County, Wash., wheat farmer Judy Olson served on the board in 1994. She went on to become executive director of the state office for the USDA Farm Service Agency from 2009 to 2016.
Berg said when she first joined the NAWG board in 2013, she was the only woman. Since then, women from Idaho, Washington, Montana and Michigan have joined the board.
“We’re starting to realize there’s a role for a woman on these boards,” she said. “We maybe come at it from a little bit different perspective, but I think all the perspectives together makes a really strong voice for the wheat growers.”
In other NAWG news:
• Oklahoma wheat farmer Jimmie Musick is the new president, replacing Gordon Stoner of Montana.
• Ben Scholz of Texas is vice president.
• Cass City, Mich., wheat farmer Dave Milligan is treasurer.
• Rockland, Idaho, wheat grower Jamie Kress replaces Joe Anderson of Potlatch on the NAWG board, representing the Idaho Grain Growers Association.
• Idaho wheat farmer Wayne Hurt is the new president of NAWG’s National Wheat Foundation.