Wheat

The Oregon Wheat Commission has finished work on its budget for next year.

Oregon Wheat Commission board members this week approved a $5.85 million budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

The commission is budgeting for less income and fewer expenses, said CEO Amanda Hoey.

"As we budgeted, we anticipated having roughly the same amount of acres that are planted, but we don't expect to see the same kind of production coming out that we had this year," she said.

Yield is projected to be down due to lower soil moisture, Hoey said.

She pointed to recent USDA reports that topsoil moisture across Oregon is 47% adequate or surplus and 53% short or very short, while subsoil is 42% adequate or surplus and 53% short or very short.

"In the growth development stage, it appears some really nice stands, but (we) need that rain in order to develop into a strong crop with adequate yield," Hoey said.

Wheat in north central Oregon particularly is showing stress, but much of it is still at a point where rain can significantly shift the picture, Hoey said.

"There are areas in the state that look good and then there are areas that will be unknown until we get through the next few weeks," she said.

The commission had a beginning cash balance of $3.66 million. It expects revenues of $2.1 million in wheat assessments and $30,000 in barley assessments.

Farmers pay an assessment of 5 cents per bushel.

Last year's budget was about $38,000 less than this year's.

Funding for personnel was the biggest decrease in the new budget due to lower administration costs, down nearly $40,000, a 10% decrease from nearly $386,000 to $346,000.

The commission did some staffing restructuring in light of the COVID-19 quarantine, Hoey said.

The largest increases were in research, up 32% from $729,000 to nearly $960,000 and grower services, up nearly 2%, from $486,000 to $495,600. 

The budget was amended to move $100,000 from emergency fund reserves to contribute to the purchase of three combines to support researchers, Hoey said.

The commission contributed to the Ag Research Foundation for three smaller research plot combines, for the wheat breeding program, variety testing program and plant pathology program.

The commission is one part of the funding picture, Hoey said.

"There was a significant cost savings to purchase all as a package in this fiscal year — a savings of nearly $50,000 — which drove a lot of the decision timing," Hoey said. "Timing was also related to trying to assure they would be available for this harvest season to reduce equipment challenges and improve the efficiency of harvest and accuracy of yield data."

The commission would wind up taking about $200,000 out of reserves if the budget is realized, Hoey said.

The commission expects to come out net positive this year, and add to reserves moving into the next budget cycle, she said.

COVID-19 affected the budget in terms of creating some operations uncertainties, including travel, events and interacting with customers, Hoey said.

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