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Dan Wogsland, Published December 01 2012

Letter: Measure 3 critic got it wrong

I write to correct misinformation contained in Perry Ostmo’s letter to the editor published Nov. 17 in The Forum. Ostmo is uninformed regarding the issues surrounding Measure 3 as well as facts related to the North Dakota Grain Growers Association.

Measure 3, the North Dakota Feeding Families Act, was designed to protect farmers, ranchers and livestock producers from the negative influence of outside anti-agricultural interests. Proponents of the act did an outstanding job of outlining the need to preserve and protect North Dakota’s No. 1 industry – agriculture. The voters of North Dakota responded; 66.89 percent of North Dakota voters, all 53 North Dakota counties, voted in favor of the measure. Ostmo may want to consult his neighbors; 65 percent of them favored the measure as well.

Ostmo states Measure 3 is an effort to “push Roundup Ready wheat onto farmers.” First, I don’t think North Dakota farmers can be “pushed” into anything. Technological advances in corn, soybean and sugar beet genetics have been a boom for North Dakota farmers. It has allowed for better stewardship of the land, and better economics. In time, those advances will come into wheat as well but it won’t be because of a constitutional measure 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-bushel wheat.

The letter also takes a swing at the grain growers association. In 2012, two-thirds of North Dakotans felt it necessary to protect North Dakota agriculture with Measure 3. In 2005, two-thirds of the Legislature felt it necessary to pass a bipartisan bill giving North Dakota wheat farmers the resources necessary to be represented on state and federal domestic policy issues. In 2009, that legislation was revisited; this time, out of 141 legislators, only nine voted against the bill. That’s bipartisanship at its best; it’s a testament to the fact that the legislation is working and working well.

The letter further states that the association has no accountability for its actions. Let’s be clear. Through its contractual obligations with the state Wheat Commission, whose commissioners are elected by North Dakota wheat farmers, the association reports on its activities at commission meetings. The association reports annually to elected county representatives on the commission. Finally, the association reports its activities to the Legislature. In all, the association has more reporting requirements to its constituents than any nongovernmental farm organization in the state.

At the association, our agenda is simple. We want to help make wheat and barley farmers successful. Our mission is to provide producers with education, leadership, information and representation to increase profitability and enhance value-added opportunities.

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