Peterson is only the fourth president of USW since the organization was formed in 1980 by the merger of Great Plains Wheat and Western Wheat Associates. In addition to Tracy, other past presidents of the group include Larry Montgomery (1980-81) and Winston Wilson (1981-97).
In his new role, Peterson will be responsible for implementing board-directed policies and for managing staff, export market development programs and finances. The USW directors unanimously selected Peterson as the next president in November 2016.
“I am very optimistic about the long-term opportunities for U.S. wheat exports as I start my tenure as president,” said Peterson, who has been with USW for 32 years and most recently was vice-president of overseas operations. “The farmers we represent produce the variety and quality of wheat needed to meet rapidly growing demand around the world. Under Alan’s leadership, and with amazing support from our farmer leaders and wheat commission members, we built a strong base of export sales and talented staff that are well prepared and strategically placed to take advantage of this opportunity.”
Peterson began his career in 1974 as a grain merchandiser with General Mills, later moving to the grain export side of the business before joining USW in 1985.
Looking back, Tracy said adjusting to the shift from government to mainly private importing was one of the big changes since he joined USW in 1997.
“I am proud that we are able to pass along to Vince a worldwide team that continues to provide trade and technical service that build a preference for U.S. wheat in an increasingly competitive and sophisticated world market,” Tracy said. “I am also pleased that we were able to play a role in the demise of the trade-distorting Australian Wheat Board monopoly and see the Canadian government choose an open market for its wheat industry.”
Tracy said trade policies will have an increasing influence on global wheat trade, and he pointed to significant market distortion from excessive domestic subsidies and other policies by China, India and other developing countries as examples of things that are cutting into U.S. wheat farm income.“USW helped blow the whistle on these policies and the U.S. government is now pursuing disputes cases against China at the World Trade Organization,” he said. “Enforcement of existing trade agreement rules is vital in today’s trade environment and will grow even more important in the future.”