Through the month of January, the Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotion Council will be holding small grains update meetings throughout Minnesota.
These meetings are a good place to learn what's happening in the wheat industry, what happened last year and what to look forward to in the coming year. Also this year, growers will have an opportunity to influence the future of wheat research. The council has proposed to raise the wheat check-off from the current 1 cent per bushel to 2 cents per bushel. Anyone who sold wheat in the state of Minnesota in 2009 paid the check-off. Therefore, they are entitled to vote on the check-off increase.
It is my sincere hope that the growers will not only take the initiative to vote on their own future, but to vote in favor of the increase. The check-off started in Minnesota in the 1970s at 1 cent that was refundable. It was changed in the late 1980s to a non-refundable 1 cent. This means that Minnesota wheat research has as much money going into it as it did in the '70s. Interestingly, according to NASS, Minnesota also produced as much wheat in 2009 as it did in 1974.
After harvest this past fall, a farm supply salesman stopped at our farm and the discussion turned to the low protein in this year's wheat. The question became, you'd think researchers could breed some improvements into wheat to be more consistent in quality year after year. I think many farms had this same discussion after harvest.
This is your opportunity to do just that. In a proposed budget with an increased check-off, the council estimates it would raise the amount of money allotted to research by half a million dollars. Plain and simple, this means more wheat in the ground, more research lines in the system, more varieties released with higher yields and better quality, and ultimately more money in the growers' pocket.
To find times and locations to vote, go to www.smallgrains.org or call the wheat office at 1-800-242-6118. I urge all growers to come out and vote.