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Wheat groups still talking merger

By Dave Thompson

Bismarck, ND – Representatives of three major wheat groups are still talking merger -- but the chairman of the US Wheat Associates says it won't be easy.

Alan Lee of Berthold says US Wheat, the National Association of Wheat Growers and WheaTech have been discussing merger off and on for four years. Lee says he initially opposed a merger -- but now says he doesn't know how he would vote. He says there are money issues.

"The large states that are really involved in the export market are very concerned about switching of effort. The other states that rely more on farm program payments would like to see more money in those programs. You can't use wheat check-off money for lobbying, or you'll lose the federal match. So every dollar that I as a producer puts in gets $2.50 from the government."

Lee says he would like to see the groups continue talking -- but he isn't in any hurry to see the merger happen. He says the groups need to iron out a lot of issues first.

"I think, with the proper structuring, and safeguards to make sure that the money goes where it's supposed to go, I could live with it."