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Wheat leader looks to next generation


Many changes in store for growers, Raymond says


By MATTHEW WEAVER


Capital Press


The Oregon Wheat Growers League new president sees a good mix of youth and wisdom on the group's board.


Tyson Raymond, 30, a Helix, Ore., wheat and canola producer, becomes the new president of the league on Jan. 1.


He sees a good balance of "youthful idealism and energy" and wisdom and experience among board members.


Raymond calls for a renewed effort to identify talent in the countryside, the better to have a succession plan for the organization.


"In order for ag groups like ours to remain viable, we need to have a new, next generation that's articulate, intelligent, energized and willing to advocate on ag's behalf," Raymond said.


Raymond intends to be more proactive working with agencies and policy makers through the rulemaking process. The organization needs to focus on educating growers and creating a foundation of science and research, he said, in order to avoid having baselines on issues like water and air quality set by others.


"Those are the kinds of things that are relatively budget neutral we'll start seeing more pressure put on," he said.


Working with the Oregon Wheat Commission and Oregon State University to maintain research is a top priority, Raymond said.


"That's absolutely huge," he said.


The new farm bill, due out in 2012, will be a significant factor in how farmers approach their operations.


"Things are going to be different," Raymond said, pointing to the likely loss of direct payments. "A lot of the luxuries we've experienced in past farm bills, we're not going to be able to experience any more. We're going to have to learn to rely on risk management more, we're going to have to learn to rely and focus on conservation issues a little bit more."


The league has provided a medium for growers to gain a wealth of knowledge, he said.



Raymond said the league must also start reaching out to people who haven't yet been active.


"We represent a lot of people, and I want a lot of people at the table when we're making decisions," he said. "In order to do that, we have to show them where their assessment dollars are going and how it's benefiting them."



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