PULLMAN, Wash. — The Washington Grain Commission board has two new members.
Ben Barstow, of Palouse, will represent barley growers in Asotin, Benton, Columbia, Franklin, Garfield, Klickitat, Walla Walla, Whitman and Yakima counties.
Brian Cochrane, of Kahlotus, will represent wheat growers in Benton, Franklin, Kittias, Klickitat and Yakima counties.
Barstow has been farming since 1993 on roughly 1,000 acres. He has about 300 to 400 acres of wheat and 50 to 150 acres of barley.
"I think there's potentially some changes coming in barley production with the introduction of high-yielding, hulless barley," Barstow said. "It may be time to establish hulless barley as a separate class of grain."
Cochrane returned to farming on roughly 5,000 acres and 10,000 CRP acres with his brother in 2007, after serving for 23 years in the U.S. Air Force.
Cochrane says farmers need flexibility in a constantly changing environment.
"We don't know what trade mantra we're going to be on from day to day, so we can't have a cookie cutter approach," he said. "We can't be set on one market, we've got to be ready to jump on other markets."
Cochrane said the Pacific Northwest is fortunate because the Western white wheat the region's farmers grow — a combination of soft white wheat and a subclass, club wheat — fulfills a niche with Asian buyers overseas.
He'd like to explore similar opportunities and develop more market opportunities for Western white, club wheat and hard white wheat.
Cochrane would also like more regional representation in development of the farm bill.
Barstow expects his time on the commission to be as educational as his time going through Washington Association of Wheat Growers leadership ranks several years ago.
"I recommend everybody get involved at some level," he said. "You'll learn more than you ever thought possible. Things that can change your operation, the way you look at your farm."
The board includes 11 members, including 7 farmers representing 20 eastern Washington counties, 3 representatives of allied industries, and a representative from the Washington State Department of Agriculture.