Grain commission budget

Washington Grain Commission chairman Gary Bailey and CEO Glen Squires go over some last-minute paperwork after the budget was adopted May 16 during the board meeting in Spokane.

The Washington Grain Commission has developed a "strong budget" for its priorities — marketing, research and education — its leaders say.

Commission board members recently approved a $6.68 million budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

That's 5.4% higher than last year's $6.34 million budget.

The new fiscal year begins July 1.

"We're up a little bit this year, and that is to make sure we are fulfilling the needs of the growers," said Gary Bailey, commission chairman and a farmer in St. John.

The board increased market development by about $67,000, from nearly $1.3 million to $1.36 million, a 5.1% increase, to emphasize customers in Latin America and attend several buyers' conferences in Japan and south Asia, said Glen Squires, commission CEO.

"(Marketing) continues to be an important element of the board, to make sure we're being active with our buyers, helping to solve and address issues, concerns and needs that arise," Squires said.

The board slightly reduced funding for trade teams, in recognition of increased funding for U.S. Wheat Associates, the overseas marketing arm for the industry, Squires said.

Research funding increased 7.1% from nearly $2.4 million to $2.5 million. Research proposals included higher labor costs, Squires said.

The board members built in funding for possible special projects or needs during the year.

"If you could anticipate everything that's going to come up during the year, you could budget for it, but there's things that pop up that need attention," Bailey said.

The commission set aside $500,000 as a placeholder for special research projects if needed, Squires said.

The commission set aside a similar amount in 2018-2018 for falling number research, to address a starch problem that impacts end-use quality, he said.

An additional $80,000 was set aside for pre-release quality testing of samples from private breeding companies and Washington State University, following a breeder meeting last week during the commission's meeting in Spokane. The program is under development, Squires said.

The commission uses the current year's assessments to fund the following year's budget. Squires expects income to range between $6.3 million and $6.4 million, plus some investments.

"If the whole $6.6 million is spent, then we would go into reserves a little bit, but I don't anticipate that the full $6.6 million is going to be utilized," he said.

The commission collects an assessment of three quarters of 1% of the net selling price of wheat at the first point of sale.

The board tries to keep $6 million in reserves, the equivalent of at least a year's budget, in case of a total crop failure. It currently has $5.8 million in reserves, after moving $200,000 out of unassigned cash reserves into assigned cash reserves, toward meeting their $6 million goal, Squires said.

The largest increase was in office operations,  from $207,000 to $262,000, or 26.5% with funding set aside for building maintenance to prepare for a tenant in the commission's office in Spokane. 

The biggest decrease was in policy development, from $124,000 to $116,000, down nearly 6.5%, as the commission doesn't have an election this year and won't set money aside, Squires said.

Education and information increased from $533,000 to nearly $541,000, a 1.4% gain.

Grower services increased 3.2% from nearly $908,000 to $937,000.

Professional services and support increased 2.8%, from $914,000 to $940,000.

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