Minnesota wheat farmer Erik Younggren was elected and installed as the National Association of Wheat Growers' 50th president at the Association's Board of Directors meeting held Saturday at Commodity Classic in Nashville, Tenn.
Younggren farms near Hallock in northwestern Minnesota, where he produces wheat, sugar beets and soybeans in partnership with two cousins.
Prior to becoming a NAWG officer in 2009, Younggren represented the Minnesota Association Wheat Growers on the national association's board, serving as a member of NAWG's domestic and trade policy, operations and budget committees. He has also participated in special committees examining crop insurance policy and an upcoming renovation of the Wheat Growers Building, which is owned by the NAWG Foundation.
A fourth-generation farmer, Younggren has involved himself in leadership positions in his local community. Fifteen years ago, he started a business that pioneered broadband Internet service in rural areas. He has also served as a member of his church's Board of Deacons; on the board of his county economic development committee; and in his local curling club, supporting the popular Northern sport.
Younggren is an alumnus of the wheat industry's training programs, the Wheat Industry Leaders of Tomorrow, the Wheat Organization Leaders of the Future program and the Syngenta Leadership at Its Best program. He holds a bachelor's degree in finance with a minor in economics from Minnesota State University at Moorhead.
He and his wife, Angela, who runs pet grooming and kennel businesses, have a young daughter.
"Serving the nation's wheat growers is an honor and a privilege," Younggren said. "I know we are going to hit the ground running this year, and I look forward to the challenge. Active participation on the national level is more important now than ever before."
Other members of NAWG's officer corps elected Saturday include:
Bing Von Bergen, Moccasin, Mont., first vice president
Paul Penner, Hillsboro, Kan., second vice president
Brett Blankenship, Washtucna, Wash., secretary-treasurer
Wayne Hurst, Burley, Idaho, immediate past president
NAWG works with a team of 21 state wheat grower organizations to benefit the wheat industry at state and national levels. From their offices in the Wheat Growers Building on Capitol Hill, NAWG's staff members are in constant contact with state association representatives, NAWG grower leaders, members of Congress, Congressional staff members and the public.
NAWG's government affairs staff members work on issues as diverse as federal farm policy and crop insurance, environmental regulation and research funding. NAWG also leads a number of efforts outside the Beltway to benefit wheat growers – including the quest to bring biotechnology's benefits to wheat and efforts to find common ground between growers and the railroads that transport their products.Source: NAWG