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Oat Millers, Growers and Researchers Lobby Congress for Oat Research Funding

February 11, 2005

NAMA member Rick Cole, of General Mills, Inc. in Minneapolis, Minnesota meets with Representative Jim Ramstad (R-MN).

Professor Mike McMullen, a researcher from North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota (left) and John Bollingberg, a grower from Bremen, North Dakota meet with Representative Earl Pomeroy (D-ND).This is an annual event hosted by NAMA for the Oat Division.

Washington, DC – February 11, 2005 – A team of oat millers, growers, and researchers were hosted by the North American Millers’ Association (NAMA) in Washington, DC February 8 – 9 in a joint effort to push for increased federal funding for oat research. “It was a great opportunity to advocate for the oat industry,” stated Rick Cole, General Mills, Inc., Minneapolis, MN.

Three NAMA teams participated in this yearly lobbying effort. They visited the offices of 26 Senators and Representatives. Their message was simple: Basic research in oats has not kept pace with research in other crops. As a consequence, oat production has become less economically viable relative to other production options. Team members were:

  • John Bollingberg, grower, Bremen, ND
  • Gordon Brockmueller, grower, Freeman SD
  • Rick Cole, General Mills, Inc., Minneapolis, MN
  • Mac Ehrhardt, Albert Lea Seed House, Albert Lea, MN
  • Fred Kolb, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL
  • Mike McMullen, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND
  • Paul Murphy, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
  • Rick Schwein, Grain Millers, Inc., Eden Prairie, MN

In 2004, the 145 million bushels of oats produced in the U.S. contributed to the production of more than $2.5 billion in food, feed, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, sweeteners and industrial products generating hundreds of millions of dollars in tax income. Despite the steady decline in oat production in this country, the food use of oats has been growing at about 5% per year due to the unique nutritional benefits provided by oat products for human food.

Continued investment by the federal government in strong oat research programs is required to keep the U.S. at the forefront in the development and implementation of new technologies to improve oat productivity and quality. No private commercial oat breeding programs exist in the U.S., so oat research is conducted only by state land-grant universities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS). Current federal investment in oat research is less than $4.6 million per year, so the returns from this modest federal investment in oat research far exceed the expenditure.

Oats are an essential grain for both human consumption and animal feed. Oat products are heart-healthy, safe, whole-grain, and beneficial in dietary and nutritional function. Oats play an important role in sustainable grain production in the U.S. and provide producers with another crop option. To remain a viable crop, progress in oat improvement must be sustained. Federal support is essential to this progress.

NAMA has 48 member companies operating 170 wheat, corn, oat and rye mills in 38 states, 150 cities, and Canada. Membership represents about 95% of the total U.S. capacity.

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2005 Oat Research Priorities

List of Senate and House of Representative offices visited

Statistical background information:

USDA Research Chart

Yield Comparison

Oat Production

CONTACT: Terri Todd, Director of Communications
202.484.2200, ext.108
ttodd@namamillers.org

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