Helping to shape Mich.'s wheat industry

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AUBURN, Mich. (AP) -- Chris Schmidt knows a little bit about amber waves of grain.

The Auburn man was recently named one of nine inaugural members of the Michigan Wheat Promotion Committee by Gov. Rick Snyder. Their first meeting is set for Dec. 12 at GreenStone Farm Credit Services in Lansing.

"I'm looking forward to working with people in the industry and state educators to promote Michigan wheat," he said.

The committee, which was born out of an industry-wide referendum held in June and July, is intended to promote Michigan's red and white wheat production and marketing while also encouraging wheat research. There are eight grower representatives on the committee nd one industry represen tative. The committee is supported by a maximum assessment of 0.5 percent of the value of wheat sold by Michigan growers.

Schmidt, 54, is a fourth generation wheat farmer at Schmidt Farms at 1068 N. Union in Auburn. He said he has a unique perspective on the industry as he not only produces wheat, but is also a certified wheat seed grower.

"I'm not harvesting my wheat to take to the elevator," he said. "We have our own plant where we bag seed that farmers across the state will plant next season. It gives me a unique opportunity to work with farmers across the state and understand some of their concerns."

Schmidt estimates he is one of about 40 growers across the state that produce seed.

Michigan's ability to successfully grow both red and white wheat is a big deal, Schmidt said, because white wheat is harder to grow and considered the "cashmere of wheat."

"Michigan has a unique growing opportunity in that we're a great place to produce both soft white wheat and red wheat," he said. "There are really only a few places that can produce both; Michigan, Ontario, Washington and Virginia are among the few."

It is something that we can capitalize on."

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