If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
That's farmer Mike Carstensen's plan as he takes over as chairman of the Washington Grain Commission board of directors for the next two years.
"Not to mess things up, ha ha," Carstensen told the Capital Press. "I’ve used the phrase 'commitment to excellence' and I hope to keep and help a team committed to excellence. We have this, it’s where everyone grabs the rope and pulls in the same direction. It’s not about me, it’s about the team. I’m just the next guy up."
Carstensen farms with his son and crop shares for family members on roughly 5,000 acres in northwest Lincoln County. He started farming in 1985.
"It’s a lifestyle and that’s what I enjoy," he said. "The variety of the work, at times from daylight to dark and at times the days are short."
They primarily grow wheat and barley, and have also raised oats, peas and canola.
The commission will serve as an advocate for agriculture on environmental and regulation matters, such as protecting the lower Snake River dams, Carstensen said.
Another priority is continued outreach to overseas customers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We lose something (without) the face-to-face contact," Carstensen said.
But Carstensen points to a lot of opportunity within the industry, including new technology and techniques available to growers.
He tells farmers the commission is working diligently to allocate their assessment dollars. The commission collects an assessment of three quarters of 1% of the net selling price of wheat, and 1% of the net selling price of barley, at the first point of sale.
The commission is about "funding research, marketing and education in a way that enhances the profitability and competitiveness of all of us," Carstensen said.