Idaho Bean Commission quits U.S. Dry Bean Council
BOISE -- The Idaho Bean Commission resigned its 2013 membership from the U.S. Dry Bean Council because commissioners say growers weren't getting their money's worth from the group.
The decision will result in IBC saving about $30,000 a year in dues and travel expenses, an amount that represents more than 10 percent of the commission's annual $200,000 budget, which is financed by an assessment fee paid by growers and dealers.
"We're trying to be good stewards of growers' money," said IBC board member Gina Lohnes, who works for Trinidad Benham Corp., a bean dealer near Twin Falls. "At this time, we don't feel their overall objectives are in keeping with our ... direction."
Commissioner and grower Bill Bitzenburg said commissioners continually analyze how they spend the IBC's money and how it benefits industry in return.
"It was hard to show tangible results for that money," he said. "Maybe we could show better results ... by going in some other direction."
More than half of total bean acres in Idaho are seed beans and green bean seed.
Green bean seed growers get virtually no benefit from being part of the USDBC and seed producers hold such a minor position in the council "that there's nothing they can do for seed growers also," said IBC board member Don Tolmie, production manager for Treasure Valley Seed in Homedale.
"Frankly, we did not see any return on investment for that money," Tolmie said. "There wasn't any benefit coming back for the state of Idaho. We just didn't get any representation out of it."
USDBC officials did not respond to phone calls and emails seeking comment for this story. The council is a private trade association that promotes U.S. edible beans. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the council has a marketing office in Pierre, S.D.
Bitzenburg said the two groups also had conflicting business models when it came to Mexico. While the IBC has spent a lot of money promoting Idaho certified bean seed in Mexico, he said, the USDBC opposed that because if Mexico farmers grows better commercial beans, that country won't buy as much from the U.S.
IBC commissioner and grower Dana Rasmussen said commissioners had some deep discussions on the issue before deciding to resign their group's membership from the USDBC.
"We just didn't think the amount of money we were sending back there was doing us any good," he said.
The decision was in the best interests of Idaho growers at this time but doesn't prevent the two groups from working together in the future, Bitzenburg said.
"We're not closing any doors or burning any bridges," he said.