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

February 9, 2006

Washington, DC – February 9, 2006 – A team of oat millers, growers, and researchers were hosted by the North American Millers’ Association (NAMA) in Washington, DC February 7 – 8 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 Bruce Roskens, PepsiCo/Quaker Oats.

Three NAMA teams participated in this yearly lobbying effort. They visited the offices of 31 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. Production has declined to the point where the U.S. is highly dependent on imports to satisfy consumption. Team members were:

  • John Bollingberg, grower, Bremen, ND
  • Rick Cole, General Mills, Inc., Minneapolis, MN
  • Mac Ehrhardt, Albert Lea Seed House, Albert Lea, MN
  • Stephen Harrison, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA
  • Mike McMullen, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND
  • Paul Murphy, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
  • Bruce Roskens, PepsiCo/Quaker Oats
  • Rick Schwein, Grain Millers, Inc., Eden Prairie, MN
  • Deon Stuthman, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN

In 2005, the 115 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.

No private commercial oat breeding programs exist in the U.S. Only state land-grant universities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service conduct oat research. Current federal investment in oat research is less than $5 million per year. 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 environmentally 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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CONTACT: Jim Bair, Vice President
202.484.2200, ext.14
jbair@namamillers.org

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