The Oregon Wheat Growers League of Pendleton and the Oregon Wheat Commission of Portland may be moving in together.

The two organizations met this month to discuss their future.

Commission Executive Administrator Tana Simpson of Portland said the league and commission are considering co-management and co-location, which would mean one main office and staff with possible satellite offices.

A five-person committee will examine the situation for economics and efficiency and put together a plan, which is set for release in October, Simpson said.

League Executive Director Tammy Dennee of Pendleton said the report would go to the growers and the organizations' boards of directors.

"They are going to have to evaluate any of their recommendations against the acceptance by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Justice, of course," Dennee said.

The two entities will continue operating unchanged until a decision is made.

Wes Grilley of Pendleton, the league's former executive director, said he thinks lobbyists such as Dennee are more effective when they live and work among those they represent.

"It's more authentic to be the voice of the farm and the farm area," he said. "Whenever you speak, you're seen as part of the production area, rather than being one of those Portland grain guys."

Other wheat organizations have made similar moves to take advantage of additional efficiencies, Dennee said.

The Washington Wheat Commission's pending merger with the Washington Barley Commission into the Washington Grain Alliance in July will be considered in the decision-making, Simpson said.

"There are some issues as far as the commission being a state agency and the league being an association," she said of a possible Oregon co-management situation. "As far as trying to figure out how it can be done legally, that's going to be the issue."

Grilley said the two offices once were together before the Wheat Commission moved to Portland.

Discussions in Oregon began several years ago with a task force formed to ensure the industry was focused on the future, Simpson said. At the time, the task force recommended considering co-location and co-management, Dennee said.

"There are some thoughts of benefits as far as speaking with one voice," Simpson said. "Seeing all of these other states considering consolidation of their two organizations and with our history as being a leader for the nation, we wanted to make sure we were making the right decisions for our industry."

Simpson said it's uncertain what the impact of a new organization would be for growers, until the structure and focus is known.

Dennee said growers probably would not be impacted because the league and commission would retain separate boards of directors and the commission still would collect and distribute assessments through contracts executed each year for market research and education.

"It would still be vitally important and statutorily mandated that they conduct those absolutes and functions," she said.

"The reason we're doing this is to make sure we're in the best shape we can be and the most efficient we can be for the growers," Simpson said.

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