Michigan wheat growers were recently mailed ballots for the official vote on the five-year continuation of Michigan’s wheat checkoff program. While the program is one of the newest checkoff programs in the state, it has been in existence for 10 years, and this is the third vote by the state’s wheat farmers.
The wheat checkoff was voted in during the summer of 2011 by a margin of 54% (both popular vote and production voted). Its first board of directors was appointed by the governor in late 2011 and began meeting at the end of that year.
The first continuation vote in 2016 passed by a much wider margin of more than 80% of the production and popular vote. The board felt its mission was supported by growers and continued to build on the success of its first five years.
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development mailed wheat referendum continuation ballots for voting. Ballots must be postmarked on or before April 2. Growers who do not receive a ballot or have questions should contact the department by calling toll-free at 800-292-3939.
The goal was and remains to increase yields and decrease quality issues for farmers growing wheat in Michigan.
Wheat farmers interested in reviewing the accomplishments of the wheat checkoff and its nine-member board have a variety of information resources, primarily on the organization’s website at miwheat.org or the Michigan Wheat Program YouTube channel. Resources include:
- "Decade of Dedication" video featuring a presentation by MWP Executive Director Jody Pollok-Newsom. Check under the “What’s Hot” menu on the left side of the homepage.
- Seven years of annual reports are found on the website under the About tab, with the newest highlighted in the “What’s Hot” box.
- The Winter 2021 series of six wheat wisdom webinars and 16 other Summer Field Day or Winter Annual Meeting videos and handout materials are all found under the Education tab, and then the Previous Events tab.
- Six years of "Wheat Wisdom" e-newsletters (75 issues) of current wheat events and production articles are found under the Newsroom tab.
- In addition, the Michigan Wheat YouTube Channel has 93 videos that provide 48 hours of information.
“Key accomplishments for our board over the past 10 years have included addressing grower needs by targeting about $3.5 million to nearly 150 research projects,” says Michigan Wheat Board chair Bill Hunt, a wheat farmer of Davison. “In addition, we have made a $700,000 donation to MSU to put toward a land purchase at the Saginaw Valley Research & Extension Center to ensure long-term wheat research, and another $250,000 for essential modern field and lab research equipment to be used by our team at MSU.”
“Another important area the MWP financially supports is 'boots on the ground' or positions at MSU that are vital to better on-farm research and bringing those results to our farmers,” Hunt says. “The Michigan Wheat Program collaboratively put funding toward wheat breeder Dr. Eric Olson and recently retired MSU Extension educator Martin Nagelkirk. Currently, MSU wheat specialist Dennis Pennington is funded by a 50-50 partnership with MSU. Nagelkirk works on special projects through a contract basis.”
Eligible producers who have not receive a ballot may also request one by sending an email to [email protected].