WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) announced on Sept. 2 that it has promoted Shannon Schlecht to director of policy. He will direct the organization’s trade policy development aimed at increasing overseas market access for U.S. wheat producers. Critical issues include working toward ratification of free trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea and Panama, easing trade restrictions with Cuba, and representing wheat producer interests in multilateral trade negotiations.

"Trade barriers and unfair competition have always been damaging to U.S. wheat producers, but over the past few years have become increasing troublesome," said USW President Alan Tracy. "Shannon knows our company and our industry well and has worked in our trade policy group for a year now, so we are very pleased that he can step quickly into this position."

Schlecht replaces Rebecca Bratter who plans to leave USW on Sept. 30, for a related job at U.S. Grains Council, Washington, D.C.

Before moving to USW Headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., in September 2009 as deputy director of policy, Schlecht was assistant regional director, Middle East, East and North Africa Region in Cairo, Egypt. In that position, Schlecht helped conduct market development activities across the 31-country region representing 35% of world wheat imports. He joined USW in 2001 as assistant director, West Coast Office, in Portland, Oregon, U.S., where he worked on wheat quality issues, trade team support and development programs focused on Asia.

Schlecht completed his master’s degree in agricultural economics at North Dakota State University (NDSU), Fargo, North Dakota, U.S., in 2001. His research focused on the logistical implications of increasing segregations of wheat that could result from market introduction of wheat biotechnology traits. He also completed a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics at NDSU.

Before joining USW, Schlecht participated in an agricultural exchange program in Germany where he gained perspective on a range of agricultural systems. Shannon is a native of Enderlin, North Dakota, U.S., where his family operates a diversified crop and livestock farming operation.