SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS, U.S. — David Schemm, a third generation wheat farmer from western Kansas, was elected as the new president of the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) at the association’s board meeting held March 2.
“I originally started with the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers,” Schemm said. “I really found a passion for what we do; engaging growers and trying to work for the benefit of growers on (Capitol) Hill, not only at the state level, but also at the national level.
“We need to draw a bigger circle than just around ourselves, our family and our own operation. We need to have an influence outside of that. It’s been super rewarding and exciting to be able to engage on the growers’ behalf on a national level. I’m so pumped and so excited for the coming year.”
Schemm, who farms with his wife, Lisa, in Wallace County, Kansas, U.S., outlined some of NAWG’s priorities for the upcoming year, including working for commonalites.
“We’re all farmers,” he said. “We can find so many commonalities between us and make sure that we get a good farm bill, a good risk management tool for our farmers out there, especially considering the challenging times we’re going through now.
“It’s not if wheat will make an impact on the next farm bill. Wheat will make an impact on the next farm bill. We will make sure that our voice is heard, and that we get the best tool we possibly can for wheat growers out there.”
Schemm said crop insurance is a top priority for NAWG in advance of the farm bill.
“Are there areas in crop insurance that need to be tweaked?” he asked. “Yeah, there are maybe some areas and that’s what we’re discussing. There’s got to be strong support going forward with that.
“The other area that we’re hearing is just some challenges that we’ve had with Title I and with the ARC and PLC programs. There’s been discrepancies in data, differences between counties that producers have found. So we’re exploring ways to try to find the right solutions.”
Other areas of concern to Schemm and NAWG leadership include trade and the labor force as it relates to immigration.
“We need to get our Secretary of Ag confirmed,” he said. “We need to get our trade representative confirmed and in there, so that we can help to communicate the priorities that we have for bilateral agreements. What we don’t have is time. We’ve got other countries in the Pacific Rim and China that are poised and ready to start making these trade agreements that absolutely will be a loss to farmers in this country. Half of our U.S. wheat crop is exported and when we look at this past year with the production that farmers had but the historic low prices, trade becomes a huge issue for us.”
Schemm also stressed the importance of the future of the U.S. wheat and agriculture industries, saying he has embraced technologies on his farm, using no-till on his dryland wheat and strip-till on his irrigated.
“We’re trying to employ technology in all aspects of our operation,” Schemm said.
He added that he, along with the rest of the NAWG board, will work to engage both farmers and legislators to make sure that wheat’s voice is heard
“We’ve got some issues, we know that,” Schemm said. “We’ve got historic low plantings; we’ve got historic low prices. We know farmers are hurting out there. We’ve got ideas; we know there are ways we can improve our current risk management tools, and that is a message we’re going to be taking to the Hill, because we’ve heard from our farmers, and we look forward to making sure our message gets communicated.”
Other NAWG officers elected and installed at the meeting include:
• Jimmie Musick, Southwest Oklahoma, U.S., vice-president.
• Ben Scholz, Lavon, Texas, U.S., treasurer
• Gordon Stoner, Outlook, Montana, U.S., past-president.
• Dave Milligan, Cass City, Michigan, U.S., secretary.
Members of NAWG’s executive committee, known as officers, commit to serve five years when they first run for the role of secretary-treasurer. The NAWG Nominating Committee and NAWG board reaffirms their selection each year as they move into new roles on the officer team.