WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) board of directors elected new officers for the organization’s 2022/23 (July to June) fiscal year at their meeting Jan. 14, 2022, in Washington, D.C. The board elected Clark Hamilton of Ririe, Ida., as Secretary-Treasurer; Michael Peters of Okarche, Okla., as Vice Chairman; and Rhonda Larson of East Grand Forks, Minn., as Chairperson. These farmers will begin their new leadership roles at the USW board meeting in June 2022. Current Chairman Darren Padget of Grass Valley, Ore., will become Past Chairman at that time. USW is the export market development organization for the U.S. wheat industry.
“I decided to run for office because I sincerely believe that the success and profitability of wheat growers depends on developing and protecting our export markets,” Hamilton said. “Growers have to be involved because our relationships with overseas customers are critical in this increasingly competitive global market where U.S. wheat is rarely the lowest cost source. Going forward, I am going to listen to our customers to ensure USW is adapting to meet their needs. And I am going to listen to USW staff to be sure the Board of Directors is providing the guidance and support they need to carry out the organization’s mission.”
Hamilton and his wife, Kristy own Hamilton Triple C Farms, a 6,000-acre diversified family farm in eastern Idaho, that they operate with their two sons. They grow four specific wheat classes as well as barley, potatoes, pulses, and alfalfa.
Hamilton spent several years serving and representing Idaho wheat and barley farmers as an executive officer of the Idaho Grain Producers Association (IGPA), including one year as president, and has been a board member of Ririe Grain and Feed Cooperative, Inc., for several years. While serving in those roles, he became very familiar with the local, state and national issues impacting agriculture and particularly wheat. He is currently one of five wheat growers appointed as a commissioner on the Idaho Wheat Commission and served as chair of that organization. Hamilton remains active in leadership roles in his church and community.
Michael Peters is a farmer and rancher growing hard red winter wheat and canola, and grazing stocker cattle on wheat. He serves on the Mid-Oklahoma Coop board of directors and on the Plains Partners Coop Board, a division of CHS, and is a member of the Okarche Rural Fire Fighters’ Association Board. He has also served as President of St. John’s Lutheran Church. He currently serves as a Commissioner and Chairman of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission. He has participated in several farm leadership programs sponsored by CHS and the National Wheat Foundation. Peters and his wife Linda have two sons who work with him and his father on their farm.
Rhonda Larson was raised on her family’s Red River Valley farm and engaged full-time in the operation for nearly 30 years. Her father started the farm growing potatoes, wheat and barley. With her two brothers and her son, the third generation on the farm, they currently grow wheat and sugarbeets. Larson has been a board member of the Minnesota Wheat Research & Promotion Council for 17 years; serving as chair from 2010 to 2012. She served on the Wheat Foods Council board and is a long-time member of the Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers and the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association. As a USW director, she served on the Long-Range Planning Committee and the Budget Committee. Larson received a bachelor’s degree in public administration and a juris doctor’s degree in law from the University of North Dakota.
Darren Padget is a fourth-generation farmer in Oregon’s Sherman County, with a dryland wheat and summer fallow rotation currently producing registered and certified seed on 3,400 acres annually. Previously, Padget held positions on the Oregon Wheat Growers League board of directors and executive committee for seven years, serving as president in 2010. He chaired the Research and Technology Committee for the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and served on the Mid-Columbia Producers board of directors, for which he was an officer for 10 years. He is a commissioner with the Oregon Wheat Commission.
USW’s mission is to “develop, maintain, and expand international markets to enhance wheat’s profitability for U.S. wheat producers and its value for their customers.” USW activities in more than 100 countries are made possible through producer checkoff dollars managed by 17 state wheat commissions and cost-share funding provided by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. USW maintains 15 offices strategically located around the world to help wheat buyers, millers, bakers, wheat food processors and government officials understand the quality, value and reliability of all six U.S. wheat classes. For more information, visit the USW website at www.uswheat.org.
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