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Nothing hidden about Grain Growers' agenda

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opinion Grand Forks, 58203
Grand Forks North Dakota 375 2nd Ave. N. 58203

MANDAN, N.D. -- I write on behalf of the North Dakota Grain Growers Association to correct misinformation in Perry Ostmo's letter ("Measure's hidden agenda threatens stewardship," Page A4, Nov. 17).

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Unfortunately, Ostmo is uninformed regarding the issues surrounding Constitutional Measure 3 as well the North Dakota Grain Growers Association. I'd like to set the record straight.

Measure 3, the North Dakota Feeding Families Act, was designed to protect North Dakota farmers, ranchers and livestock producers from the negative influence of outside anti-agricultural interests. The proponents of the measure did an outstanding job of outlining for voters the need to preserve and protect North Dakota's No. 1 industry, agriculture.

The voters of North Dakota responded; 67 percent of North Dakota voters, including majorities in all 53 counties, voted in favor of the measure.

Ostmo may want to consult his neighbors, 65 percent of whom favored the measure as well. The North Dakota Grain Growers Association is proud to be among a host of North Dakota organizations that supported the effort.

The letter says Measure 3 was an effort to "push Roundup Ready wheat onto farmers." First of all, I don't think North Dakota farmers can be "pushed" into anything. Technological advances in corn, soybean and sugarbeet genetics have been a boom for farmers; they have allowed for better stewardship of the land and better economics.

And in time, these advances will come into wheat as well -- but it won't be because of a constitutional amendment in North Dakota. It will be because sound science will ensure market acceptance by farmers, end users and consumers of wheat varieties that are safe as well as consistent in quality and yield.

It will also be because the 9 billion people living on this planet will need 90-bushels-per-acre wheat. Improved wheat genetics is something Ostmo may want consider as he dumps the genetically modified corn and soybean crops he raises at his local elevator.

The letter also takes a swing at the North Dakota Grain Growers Association. In 2012, two-thirds of North Dakota voters felt it necessary to protect North Dakota agriculture with Measure 3. In 2005, two-thirds of the North Dakota Legislature felt it necessary to pass a bipartisan bill that gave North Dakota wheat farmers the resources they needed to be represented on state and federal domestic policy issues.

In 2009, that legislation was revisited; and this time out of 141 North Dakota legislators, only nine voted against the bill. In fact, not one North Dakota farmer opposed the legislation in 2009. That's bipartisanship at its best, as well as a testament to the fact that the legislation is working and working well.

The letter also states that the North Dakota Grain Growers Association has no accountability. Let's be clear: Through its contractual obligations with the North Dakota Wheat Commission, whose members are elected by North Dakota wheat farmers, the North Dakota Grain Growers Association reports on association activities at every North Dakota Wheat Commission meeting.

Additionally, the association reports annually to the elected county representatives of the commission. Last but not least, the association reports its activities to the North Dakota Legislature.

In all, the North Dakota Grain Growers Association has more reporting requirements to its constituents than any other nongovernmental farm organization in the state.

At the North Dakota Grain Growers Association, our agenda is simple: We want to help North Dakota wheat and barley farmers succeed.

Our mission is to provide North Dakota wheat and barley producers with education, leadership, information and representation to increase profitability and enhance value-added opportunities.

We're proud of our accomplishments, and we look forward to working with North Dakota farmers on the challenges ahead.

Wogsland is executive director of the North Dakota Grain Growers Association.

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