WMC Board of Directors

The Wheat Marketing Center Board of Directors is comprised of representatives from the eight state wheat commissions (Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Oklahoma), Port of Portland, and five members from wheat-related industries. The Board meets twice a year, in March and October. All members serve on various committees, that meet and address issues within their purview.

See the Calendar of Events for the next Board meeting.

Thank You for Your Service
Retired Board Members

Greg Guthrie

Gregory L. Guthrie

BNSF – Retired

Bill Flory

Bill Flory, Chairperson

Idaho Wheat Commission

Bill Flory owns and operates a fourth generation, diversified grain farm raising four classes of wheat, barley, bluegrass, garbanzo beans, canola, and grass/alfalfa hay in the Winchester, ID area. He is a graduate of the University of Idaho. Bill has had extensive involvement with state and national wheat organizations, serving as president of both the Idaho Grain Producers and the National Association of Wheat Growers. He has served on the Wheat Marketing Center board since 2015, and is the current Chairperson.

Bill describes the Wheat Marketing Center as the technical crossroads of the wheat world, bringing together breeders, growers, millers, bakers, and the consumers from around the world — all of whom are looking for profitable ways to use wheat and compete effectively in their own markets. Idaho wheat growers supply both domestic and export markets and regularly look to the Wheat Marketing Center for technical expertise to help maximize quality and demonstrate new end uses for their wheat. Under his leadership, the Wheat Marketing Center is expanding its outreach to new partners in an ongoing effort to provide creative solutions to the challenges facing our growers and customers.

Darren Padget

Darren Padget, Vice Chairperson

Oregon Wheat Commission

Darren Padget is a fourth generation farmer in Grass Valley (Sherman County) currently producing certified wheat seed in a wheat/fallow rotation.  He and his wife Brenda operate the farm along with their son, Logan.

Darren currently serves on the U.S. Wheat Associates board of directors, and has held positions on the Oregon Wheat Growers League board of directors for seven years, serving as President in 2010.  He chaired the Research and Technology committee for the National Association of Wheat Growers.  He also served on the Mid-Columbia Producers board of directors for 13 years. Serving on these boards has provided him with greater insight into the wheat industry and familiarity with the challenges that lay ahead in research and market development.

Darren notes that the Wheat Marketing Center is a unique entity that works on behalf of growers and the wheat industry to promote U.S. wheat by demonstrating the importance of quality in end products. The staff recognizes the constantly changing markets, responds quickly to customer needs and inquiries, and provides technical assistance where needed. Darren has served on the Wheat Marketing Center board of directors since 2015.  He appreciates the key role WMC plays in maintaining U.S. market share in the world market, especially since U.S. wheat growers export half of their annual production.

Steve Beedy

Steve Beedy, Secretary

Colorado Wheat Administrative Committee

Steve Beedy farms in east central Colorado at an elevation of 5500 feet, 17 miles northeast of Limon, CO. He is the fourth generation on the farm that his great grandfather homesteaded 125 years ago. Together with his parents and brother, Steve farms over 6,000 acres of dryland Hard Red Winter and Hard White Wheat,  corn, oil sunflowers, plus a 200 head cow/calf operation. They have changed from a conventional tillage wheat/fallow operation in the 1980’s to a no-till operation, which produces a crop two out of three years. Steve graduated from Colorado State University in 1987 with a degree in Farm and Ranch management. He has been involved in Colorado Wheat organizations for more than 20 years.

 Steve first served on the WMC Board in 2001 for two years; he returned to the board in 2013. He has watched WMC go through a great transformation from an old mill to a research and training facility that can now perform a full range of quality testing and make all kinds of wheat products.  WMC has professional staff who are respected world wide. Steve believes the Wheat Marketing Center has played and will continue to play a vital role in promoting U.S. wheat in the domestic and foreign markets by showing techniques for utilizing quality U.S. wheat. Although  little Colorado wheat goes through PNW ports, WMC still educates consumers and customers about wheat classes grown in our region.  

John Akre

John Akre, Treasurer

Port of Portland

John Akre has worked in the maritime shipping industry for over three decades. Before joining the Port of Portland in 2000, he handled accounts and marketing for two ocean carriers. Today, he helps ensure diverse cargo moves smoothly through the Port as the manager of Terminal 6.  He is actively involved in supporting various agricultural organizations that promote trade in the Pacific Northwest.  

In 1988, the Port of Portland joined the seven state wheat commissions from Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, and North Dakota to create the Wheat Marketing Center. The Port has played an active role on the Board of Directors to develop programs and priorities. John has served on the board since 2003, and as Treasurer since 2013. He notes that wheat continues to be the major export moving through the Port and that the Wheat Marketing Center plays a key role as a “bridge” connecting growers and customers through its education and research programs.

Brit Ausman

Brit Ausman

Washington Grain Commission

Brit Ausman farms 6,000 acres outside of Asotin in Southeastern Washington, growing fall and spring wheat and spring barley. He also operates a trucking company that exclusively hauls grain. His primary task as a fifth generation family farmer is making on-going management and marketing decisions in an ever changing business environment.

Brit served as president of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers in 2009. Prior to that, he served nine years on the Farm Service Agency county committee. He also served seven years on the Asotin County Conservation District, two as chairman. Ausman received his agriculture business degree from the University of Idaho.

Brit has served on the WMC board since 2015. As a representative of a state that exports about 90 percent of its annual wheat production, Brit has a keen interest in making sure the Wheat Marketing Center plays a strong role in promoting U.S. wheat by demonstrating its quality characteristics. The Washington Grain Commission is a major supporter of WMC and the two organizations work closely together to carry the quality message to customers in key markets in Asia and Latin America.

Augusto Bassanini

United Grain Corporation

Augusto Bassanini is the President and CEO of United Grain Corporation, a position he’s held since 2013. Prior to this position Augusto served as the Vice President of Grain Marketing overseeing the company’s merchandising, trading activities and expanding UGC’s global presence. He has been with UGC, formerly known as United Harvest, since 1999 where he started as the Central Hedge Desk Manager before moving on to become the Senior Trader for soft white wheat.

Augusto was born and raised in the Lombardy region of northern Italy where his family operated a fully integrated hog operation.  With a vision to the future, his father decided to pursue the American dream and uprooted the family business the state of Indiana.  In the Hoosier State Augusto received his bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University and started his grain career.

With 28 years of experience in agribusiness, Augusto is actively engaged in a wide array of Associations, including joining the Wheat Marketing Center board in 2021. He continues promoting US agriculture worldwide while continuing to foster strong ties with global customers.

Charlie Bumgarner

Montana Wheat and Barley Committee

Charlie Bumgarner and his wife Karla farm in the Great Falls area. They have raised four children, one of whom is currently a part of the operation and is the fourth generation on the family farm. Wheat, barley, chickpeas, green peas, lentils and hay are the main crops that are produced by the Bumgarners.

Charlie was recently appointed by Governor Bullock to serve on the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee. He also belongs to the Montana Grain Growers Association and served on its executive board for the past five years. He represented Montana at the National Association of Wheat Growers where he chaired the Joint International Trade Committee comprised of members from both NAWG and US Wheat Associates.

Regarding the Wheat Marketing Center, Charlie calls WMC “a great tool for marketing high quality U.S. wheat to customers all around the world. The facilities are available for the millers, bakers, and other countries to come and see the quality in different end products…using their desired blends.” He further stated that visiting WMC “gives us as producers a chance to know what our buyers need and what possible improvements can be made with our breeding programs.”

Rick Dunbar

Nebraska Wheat Board

Rick was appointed for his first full term in 2020 to represent District #7 on the Nebraska Wheat Board. Rick represents the NWB on the Wheat Marketing Center board.

Rick graduated from UNL with a degree in Ag Economics. He married his wife, Chris, in 1973 and after working for three years in agricultural lending, Rick began farming full time. The Dunbar’s farm in Frontier and Dawes counties where they raise corn, soybeans, popcorn and certified seed wheat and run a cow-calf herd. He is a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church, the Nebraska Crop Improvement Association (past board member), the Nebraska Wheat Growers Association and the Eustis Lions Club.

Reuben McLean

Grain Craft

Reuben McLean currently serves as Senior Director of Quality & Regulatory for Grain Craft, the largest independent flour miller in the country.  He has been actively involved in the wheat industry for over 20 years, initially working with the University of Idaho wheat breeding program, followed by his current career in flour milling. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Crop Science from Utah State University and a master’s degree in Plant Science from the University of Idaho.

Throughout his career Reuben has advocated for the importance of wheat quality to achieve high baking quality.  He leads Grain Craft’s partnerships with wheat breeding programs to focus on research that helps growers achieve acceptable or above quality parameters as the attention on grain yields continue to increase. In addition to his dedication to wheat quality Reuben also spends much of his time on food safety procedures and current regulatory topics within the food industry, specifically flour milling.

Reuben serves on the Pacific Northwest Wheat Quality Council program committee, as well as 2019 Chair for the Hard Winter Wheat Quality Council Technical Board.

He is an active member of the NAMA (North American Millers Association) Technical Committee, ABA (American Baker’s Association) Food Technical Regulatory Affairs Committee, and Chair of the IAOM (International Association of Operative Millers) Food Protection Committee.   Reuben recognizes the valuable contribution of the Wheat Marketing Center to both export and domestic grain markets and currently serves on the WMC Marketing and Promotion Committee.

Randy Olstad

Pacific Northwest Farmers Cooperative

Randy is the Grain Division Manager for the Pacific Northwest Farmers Cooperative. He grew up on the family’s wheat farm outside of Page, ND and has been in the grain industry since 1984. He worked for many different types of agricultural companies from a small local co-op in North Dakota to large conglomerates in the Pacific Northwest. Randy served on the Idaho Cooperative Council, WSU Variety Release Committee, and Pacific Northwest Grain and Feed Association.

For decades, the focus of Randy’s career has been to help bring profit to growers as well as bring quality grains to the end users such as millers and exporters. He thinks the Wheat Marketing Center (WMC) has played an integral role in this process and feels their scientific data identifies qualities of specific wheat varieties in relation to the qualities the end users desire for their consumers. In addition, Randy thinks WMC provides an invaluable tool in helping the world’s millers and processors determine ways to enhance their own products.

Michael Peters

Oklahoma Wheat Commission

Michael Peters lives and farms in Okarche, Oklahoma, a community just west of Oklahoma City. He and his wife Linda operate a wheat, sesame and cattle operation along with their sons Connor and Tyler.

Michael is involved with U.S. Wheat Associates by serving as secretary for the board of directors and served as past chairman of the Wheat Quality Committee. He has served as chairman of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission and on the producer board of CHS Okarche where he served as chairman for three years. Michael is also very active in his home church St. John’s Lutheran Church and has served as chairman of the voter’s assembly for several years.

Michael says he has seen first-hand the quality work the Wheat Marketing Center has done.  He looks forward to working with the WMC to insure the American wheat farmer produces the highest quality wheat not only for our overseas buyers but also for our customers here at home.

Philip Volk

Philip Volk 

North Dakota Wheat Commission

Philip Volk and his wife Lisa produce Hard Red Spring wheat, soybeans, dry beans, corn, and Angus beef on their third-generation farm near York, ND, about 50 miles from the Canadian border. No-till has been practiced for 15 years along with cover crops to improve the soil. Their five children all operate equipment and manage records.

Phil is serving his first four-year term on the North Dakota Wheat Commission, representing wheat growers in the north central district of the state. Phil is the Commission’s liaison to the Wheat Marketing Center and the ND Grain Growers Association.
Phil recognizes the importance of communication and education. “Fifty percent of North Dakota wheat is exported and 70% of that travels through the Pacific Northwest,” said Volk. “Wheat Marketing Center is just the place to support our industry. Hearing Portland described as the grocery store of wheat made a big impression on me. WMC can educate and communicate the fantastic quality of all classes of U.S. wheat shipped to our friends who nourish their families with our product.”

Ron Williams

Ron Williams

Columbia Grain, Inc.

Ron currently holds the position of Vice President at Columbia Grain where he has worked for more than 30 years. Ron has spent the majority of his career trading wheat, both domestically and internationally. He currently has oversight responsibilities over the international grain trading. He has a B.S. in Business Administration from Oregon State University and an M.B.A. from Portland State University. Ron currently lives in Portland, Oregon, USA with his wife Debbie and their twin daughters, Ashley and Heather. Over the years he has gained valuable experience in international trading, contract negotiation, market analysis, inventory management, operations, processing, logistics and customer relations.

Ron has been involved with the Wheat Marketing Center (WMC) for most of his career and on the board since 2013. He currently chairs the Human Resources Committee. According to Ron, WMC is a valued partner of the U.S. wheat industry. The education and research functions performed by WMC staff do a great job of promoting the use of U.S. wheat around the world. Ron recalls that when he began his career at Columbia Grain there was a very wide disconnect between the producers and the milling and baking end users. WMC has done a fantastic job of narrowing this gap through education of all groups along the supply chain. The United States is the leader in supplying quality wheat to the world but is in a constant battle against lower-cost competitors. Looking forward, the industry will continue to rely on the Wheat Marketing Center to help demonstrate to the world the true value of U.S. wheat.

Tom Zelenka

Tom Zelenka

Tom Zelenka’s entire professional career has involved local, state, national and international public policy issues, both in the public and private sectors.  Tom spent over 25 years with the Schnitzer Group of companies as the Vice President of Environmental and Public Affairs. Before that, he served twelve years as the Government Manager of the Port of Portland and five years as the Legislative Director for a Texas State Representative. After retiring, Tom has become active with several Christian humanitarian charitable non-profits in developing countries.

Tom is a founding member and former Chairman of the WMC Board of Directors. Tom helped to develop the public/private partnership to renovate the Albers Mill Building and to secure the federal funding grants under the leadership of U.S. Senator Mark O. Hatfield and numerous state wheat growers and agencies. Tom has been an active member of the board since 1988 and currently chairs the two subsidiary boards — WMC Lab Services, Inc. and WMC Title Holding Company, Inc.

Tom observes that WMC provides critical technical services and a strategic focus for U.S. wheat and affiliated agricultural export interests. It is recognized domestically and globally for providing credible, reliable, cutting edge scientific research to meet current and future industry and consumer needs.  When meeting with foreign research teams or buyers, he has consistently been impressed with how WMC is perceived in the marketplace and how WMC provides guidance to our global wheat customers regarding the best use of U.S. wheat of all classes.

Ex-Officio Members

Warren Banks

Warren Banks

Oregon Small Business Center Network

Warren Banks spent 25 years in the financial services industry, primarily in international trade and finance management positions. Assignments included Seattle, Tokyo and then Portland, where he established a whole owned trade and finance subsidiary of Seafirst Bank. He later held senior positions with U.S. Bank, the State of Oregon and Matsushita Kotobuki, a Panasonic subsidiary located in Vancouver, WA. He is currently a Global Trade Advisor with the Oregon Small Business Center Network. He joined the WMC board in 1990, and was Treasurer for about 13 years. He currently serves as an ex-officio member of the board and chairs the Marketing and Promotion Committee, which has jurisdiction over the display and website upgrades.

Warren is one of two members (Tom Zelenka is the other) who joined the WMC board in the early days and is still active with the organization. He has seen many positive changes to WMC during this time. The sources and level of funding have increased as WMC expanded its programs and services to more sectors of the wheat value chain. WMC’s initial target countries were Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Now, technical training, product development and research services are provided to customers located throughout Asia and S.E. Asia, South America, the Middle East and Africa.

Warren says, “What a ride it has been and continues to be to see the positive impact of a small, but very knowledgeable, productive and committed staff! WMC continues to expand its footprint worldwide, to the benefit of U.S. wheat producers.”

Staci Simonich

Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences

Dr. Staci L. Simonich is the Executive Associate Dean for the College of Agricultural Sciences. She is a Professor in Environmental and Molecular Toxicology and Chemistry at Oregon State University. Previously, Dr. Simonich held the positions of Associate Vice President for Research Operations and Integrity at OSU, Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs in the College of Science, and Associate Department Head in Environmental and Molecular Toxicology.

In addition to receiving her MBA from Oregon State University in 2020, Dr. Simonich received her Ph.D. in chemistry from Indiana University in 1995. She completed APLU’s LEAD 21 training in 2017 and the Higher Education Resource Services Institute Leadership training, as a Clare Booth Luce STEM Scholarship Recipient, in 2018. Prior to joining Oregon State University in 2001, she worked in the consumer product industry with Procter & Gamble for 6 years. With over 100 peer reviewed publications to date, Dr. Simonich’s laboratory research focuses on understanding the fate, chemistry and transport of pesticides and other semi-volatile organic compounds, as well as human and environmental exposure to these pollutants. She received the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry/Roy F. Weston Environmental Chemistry Award in 2001, the NSF Career Award in 2003, the College of Agricultural Sciences Savery Outstanding Young Faculty Award in 2006, OSU’s Impact Award for Scholarship in 2013, and OSU’s Excellence in Graduate Mentoring Award in 2015. Her research has been published in Science, Nature, Environmental Health Perspectives, Environmental Science & Technology, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. During her tenure at OSU, Staci has mentored 30 Ph.D. and M.S. students and 24 undergraduate students in her laboratory and has received several awards related to her mentoring of diverse groups of OSU students and employees. Over her career, Dr. Simonich has received over $10M in extramural funding from the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Department of Defense, and Department of Interior.

Alexis Taylor

Alexis Taylor

Oregon Department of Agriculture

Alexis Taylor was appointed Director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) by Governor Kate Brown in 2016, working with the governor and legislature as well as agricultural, conservation, and consumer groups to carry out the state’s agriculture policy. ODA has a three-fold mission of ensuring food safety and consumer protection, protecting natural resources, and marketing Oregon agriculture products around the state, country, and world. 

Prior to Alexis’ appointment, she oversaw the US Department of Agriculture’s Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services (FFAS). Alexis worked to build new markets across the globe and improve the overall competitive position of US agricultural products in the marketplace. She also led the Women in Ag Initiative that was a driving force in USDA’s mission to support the growing and diverse next generation of farmers and ranchers. Before joining USDA, Alexis served for various members in the US House of Representatives and US Senate, and worked on the 2008 and 2014 Farm Bills.

Alexis served in the United States Army Reserves from 1998 to 2006. During that time, she completed one tour in Iraq with the 389th Combat Engineer Battalion. She is a graduate of Iowa State University and grew up on her family farm in Iowa, which has been in her family for more than 150 years.

WMC Title Holding Co. Board of Directors

WMC Title Holding Co. acts as the holding company for the Wheat Marketing Center’s interest in the Albers Mill Building. The building is co-owned by WMC and the Bill Naito Co.

Tom Zelenka

Tom Zelenka, Chairperson

Tom Zelenka’s entire professional career has involved local, state, national and international public policy issues, both in the public and private sectors.  Tom spent over 25 years with the Schnitzer Group of companies as the Vice President of Environmental and Public Affairs. Before that, he served twelve years as the Government Manager of the Port of Portland and five years as the Legislative Director for a Texas State Representative.

Tom is a founding member and former Chairman of the WMC Board of Directors. Tom helped to develop the public/private partnership to renovate the Albers Mill Building and to secure the federal funding grants under the leadership of U.S. Senator Mark O. Hatfield and numerous state wheat growers and agencies. Tom has been an active member of the board since 1988 and currently chairs the two subsidiary boards — WMC Lab Services, Inc. and WMC Title Holding Company, Inc.

Tom observes that WMC provides critical technical services and a strategic focus for U.S. wheat and affiliated agricultural export interests. It is recognized domestically and globally for providing credible, reliable, cutting edge scientific research to meet current and future industry and consumer needs.  When meeting with foreign research teams or buyers, he has consistently been impressed with how WMC is perceived in the marketplace and how WMC provides guidance to our global wheat customers regarding the best use of U.S. wheat of all classes.

Warren Banks

Warren Banks, Secretary

Oregon Small Business Center Network

Warren Banks spent 25 years in the financial services industry, primarily in international trade and finance management positions. Assignments included Seattle, Tokyo and then Portland, where he established a whole owned trade and finance subsidiary of Seafirst Bank. He later held senior positions with U.S. Bank, the State of Oregon and Matsushita Kotobuki, a Panasonic subsidiary located in Vancouver, WA. He is currently a Global Trade Advisor with the Oregon Small Business Center Network. He joined the WMC board in 1990, and was Treasurer for about 13 years. He currently serves as an ex-officio member of the board and chairs the Marketing and Promotion Committee, which oversaw the display and website upgrades.

Warren is one of two members (Tom Zelenka is the other) who joined the WMC board in the early days and are still active with the organization. He has seen many positive changes to WMC during this time. The sources and level of funding have increased as WMC expanded its programs and services to more sectors of the wheat value chain. WMC’s initial target countries were Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Now, technical training, product development and research services are provided to customers located throughout Asia and S.E. Asia, South America, the Middle East and Africa.

Warren says, “What a ride it has been and continues to be to see the positive impact of a small, but very knowledgeable, productive and committed staff! WMC continues to expand its footprint worldwide, to the benefit of U.S. wheat producers.”

Darren Padget

Darren Padget

Oregon Wheat Commission

Darren Padget is a fourth generation farmer in Grass Valley (Sherman County) currently producing certified wheat seed in a wheat/fallow rotation.  He and his wife Brenda operate the farm along with his son, Logan.

Darren currently serves on the U.S. Wheat Associates board of directors, and has held positions on the Oregon Wheat Growers League board of directors for seven years, serving as President in 2010.  He chaired the Research and Technology committee for the National Association of Wheat Growers.  He also served on the Mid-Columbia Producers board of directors for 13 years. Serving on these boards has provided him with greater insight into the wheat industry and familiarity with the challenges that lay ahead in research and market development.

Darren notes that the Wheat Marketing Center is a unique entity that works on behalf of growers and the wheat industry to promote U.S. wheat by demonstrating the importance of quality in end products. The staff recognizes the constantly changing markets, responds quickly to customer needs and inquiries, and provides technical assistance where needed. Darren has served on the Wheat Marketing Center board of directors since 2015.  He appreciates the key role WMC plays in maintaining U.S. market share in the world market, especially since U.S. wheat growers export half of their annual production.