Wheat harvest

Wheat is harvested near Lexington, Ore. Wheat growers say the new trade deal with China could make that country the third largest importer of U.S. wheat.

Representatives of Oregon’s wheat industry will begin negotiations with the top candidates vying to become the CEO the Oregon Wheat Commission and the Oregon Wheat Growers League.

The Oregon Wheat Commission and members of the Oregon Wheat Growers League discussed the process and next steps Nov. 11 during a conference call. The CEO oversees both organizations.

The commission authorized negotiations with a search committee’s top choice and, if not successful, contacting the second choice.

The league lacked a quorum on the conference call and will likely finalize the process to enter negotiations during the Tri-State Grain Growers Conference in Spokane this week.

“Candidate 3,” the first choice, has eight years as regional director of a large international organization; extensive experience in budgeting, organization management, staff management, project planning and international marketing.

The candidate has “extensive” knowledge of the wheat industry and Pacific Northwest markets, current CEO Blake Rowe said.

“Candidate 4,” the second choice, has 11 years of experience as executive director of a large regional public and private organization; extensive experience with budgeting, strategy development, staff management and board management.

The groups are not disclosing names. The candidates have requested confidentiality.

“All four interviews were very good,” Rowe said. “I think the selection committee was very pleased with these two candidates in particular.”

Salary for the position is split, 60% from the commission and 40% from the league.

A meet-and-greet for growers with the two candidates before hiring is not likely due to the confidentiality request and logistical difficulties, commission chairman Walter Powell and league president Alan von Borstel said.

The start time for the new CEO depends on the successful candidate’s current employment situation, Rowe said.

Rowe said the organizations will look for an opportunity to allow growers to meet the successful candidate.

Rowe announced in May his plans to retire in 2020.

The respective boards for the groups put out a position description and preferred qualifications in September. The advertisement was open for 30 days, closing Oct. 20.

There were seven applicants, Rowe said. All advanced to the committee designated to screen and rank applicants. The screening committee met in The Dalles, Ore., in late October and provided rankings to the selection committee.

The meetings were in executive session because they were personnel matters, Rowe said.

The selection committee interviewed four of the seven Nov. 1 and Nov. 2.

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