Wheat farmers established the National Association of Wheat Growers Foundation in 1977 to “translate industry resources into charitable, scientific and educational achievements.“The Foundation’s work was intended to provide benefits not only for wheat farmers and wheat users, but for consumers and the general public.
Fully incorporated on July 6, 1977, the Foundation set forth four primary goals: to advance wheat science; to advance conservation of natural resources; to develop new uses and new markets for U.S. wheat; and to develop educational programs to promote wheat and its allied industries.
Consisting of 47 members representing 15 states, the Foundation Board was convened for the first time by President Glenn Moore on Oct. 11, 1978.
One of the Board’s first actions was to consider purchase of an office building on Capitol Hill. Later that year, the Board modified its structure to allow state wheat grower organizations to appoint delegates, establishing the basic governance structure for the next 33 years.
In 1984, a permanent standing committee between the NAWG Foundation and U.S. Wheat Associates was formed to develop the crucial issue of wheat trade. This group, the Wheat Export Trade Education Committee, or WETEC, later became a stand-alone organization and served the industry until NAWG and U.S. Wheat reassumed trade-related work in 2006.
In 1986, the Foundation’s Development Committee was officially established to allow greater partnership with agribusinesses by identifying projects of need and matching them with funding resources.
Until the early 2000s, the Foundation undertook dozens of projects to train wheat leaders, bring together wheat researchers, disseminate information about best farming practices, promote farm safety and create new and value-added uses for wheat.
Particularly notable endeavors included:
- the Ambassador Program, which was designed to train farmers to become effective spokespersons for the wheat industry at the national level;
- the Wheat Utilization Committee and Summit, which brought together wheat stakeholders from across the country and industry to explore the many ways to use wheat;
- several publications on wheat crop management, pest management and industry leadership; and
- the precursors to today’s successful leadership development programs.
As the second decade of the 21st century began, wheat grower leaders realized the Foundation had become an underutilized tool and began a strategic revision process.
At its fall 2011 meeting, the Foundation Board voted to amend the organization’s articles of incorporation, modifying the organization to make NAWG its sole member. The amended articles called for the Foundation to do business as the National Wheat Foundation, a name more inclusive of all aspects of the wheat industry, from researchers to bakers. The articles amendment also reduced the size of the Foundation’s board from 21 to nine members.
In spring 2012, the NAWG Board approved nine members for the first National Wheat Foundation Board, including five farmers, a miller, a baker and two agribusiness company representatives.