WGC Commissioners

Mike Carstensen

District I Wheat (Spokane, Lincoln, Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille)

Mike Carstensen, who has a undergraduate degree in business management and accounting and an MBA with an emphasis in economics, worked for Farm Credit Services before following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather and returning to the family farm full-time in 1985. His wife, Lorie,  works for the National Park Service at Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area. Mike and Lorie farm with their son, Justin Carstensen and his wife, Theresa. Two older sons, Blinn and Jake, work off the farm. Carstensen, who was elected to the Washington Grain Commission in November 2017, also serves on the board of HighLine Grain Growers, a cooperative and shuttle train loader; Tri-Cities Grain, a barge loading river terminal and the Lincoln County Conservation District. His dryland farm, which receives about 12 inches of precipitation annually, is in a three year rotation raising soft white wheat, club wheat and feed grains using a high level mulch till and direct seed.

Gary Bailey

District II Wheat (Whitman)

Gary Bailey, the current chairman of the Washington Grain Commission, is a St. John wheat grower representing Whitman county, the state’s largest wheat growing county. Bailey grew up in St. John, and received his bachelor’s degree in business and agriculture from the University of Idaho. He worked for what is now Northwest Farm Credit Services before returning to the farm in 1989.

Gary previously served on the Board of Directors for St. John Grain Growers, now Whitgro, and also served on the Local Advisory Committee for the Colfax branch of Northwest Farm Credit Services. He currently sits on Washington State University’s Land Legacy Committee, and the Board of Directors for St. John TelCo. He raises winter wheat, spring wheat, and barley with his brother, Mark. His wife, Linda Bailey, is Associate Director of Development in the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University. The couple have three sons.

Brit Ausman

District III Wheat (Columbia, Walla Walla, Garfield, Asotin)

Brit Ausman is a member of the Washington Grain Commission representing wheat farmers in Asotin, Columbia, Garfield and Walla Walla counties.

Ausman farms 6,000 acres outside of Asotin 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.

Ausman 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.

Mike Miller

District IV Wheat (Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Okanogan)

Mike Miller representing wheat producers in Adams, Chelan, Douglaswheat farmer in a nine to ten inch rainfall area, he also has 500 acres of irrigated ground near Ralston where he grows chickpeas, bluegrass, potatoes alfalfa and oilseed crops.

He is the current chairman of U.S. Wheat Associates, and a member of the National Wheat Improvement Committee . He and his wife Marci own and manage a small marketing firm, Washington Genetics, which supports growers and the agri business industry of the PNW.

Brian Cochrane

District V Wheat (Benton, Franklin, Kittitas, Klickitat, Yakima)

Kahlotus, Washington-farmer Brian Cochrane graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy and flew for 23 years with the U.S. Air Force, before returning to his family’s fourth generation farm in 2007 to farm with his brother. His grandfather gave him his first job running an elevator in Estes, Washington—when he was seven years old. He was 13 when he took on combine duties. Cochrane’s summer fallow farm is located in one of the driest regions of the state with average precipitation between 8 to 10 inches. In 2017 and 2018, he was a National Wheat Yield Contest winner in the Winter Wheat/Dryland category, growing WSU varieties, Otto and Curiosity. Cochrane retained his involvement in the wheat industry even during his Air Force career, using vacation time to return home to harvest with his brothers. He has only missed five harvests over his lifetime. In addition to the farm, Cochrane is also involved as a trustee to the Franklin County Mosquito Board, as a supervisor on the Franklin County Conservation District and is a lifetime member of Washington Association of Wheat Growers.

Ben Barstow

District VI Barley (Whitman, Asotin, Columbia, Garfield, Walla Walla, Benton, Franklin, Klickitat, Yakima)

Ben Barstow has worn a lot of hats along with the one he wears while he’s farming outside Palouse, Washington. Although he wanted to become a farmer like his grandfather since he was a teenager, a lack of land prevented the aspiration. As a result, Barstow did the next best thing, graduating from the University of Idaho in 1980 with a Plant Protection degree. He continued his studies at Purdue University, receiving his masters on sampling insects in soybeans. Barstow worked with cotton and alfalfa crops in Arizona for four years before returning to the PNW as an area extension agent in North Idaho. In 1993, he and his wife, Janet, moved back to Janet’s family farm where they took over the operation after her father retired. They live in the farm’s 1898 ancestral home and love sharing the history of farming in the Palouse. Their daughter, Mary and family live in Redmond, WA; their son Tyler and family live in Palouse.

Barstow has served on the:
Washington State Commission on Pesticide Registration 2003 -2015
Washington Dry Pea and Lentil Commission
WAWG President, 2010-2011
WAWG Transportation Chair
Palouse Grain Growers, Chairman

He currently serves on:
Whitman County Association of Wheat Growers
Commissioner, Palouse Rural Fire District #4
Board member, Palouse Grain Growers, since 1994
Palouse Chamber of Commerce

Kevin Klein

District VII Barley (Lincoln, Spokane, Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Adams, Grant, Douglas, Okanogan, Chelan, Kittitas)

Prior to joining the Washington Grain Commission, Kevin Klein served as an officer on the Washington Association of Wheat Growers during the 2013 -2017 timeframe. He was WAWG president in 2016. On the WGC, Klein represents barley farmers in District VII including Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Ferry, Grant, Kittitas, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Spokane and Stevens counties. One of his priorities on the commission is to work to keep barley in farmers’ rotations by emphasizing its human food and malting potential.

Klein graduated in 1994 from John Brown University with a BS degree in construction management and a minor in business, at which time he returned home to farm and build. Kevin and Karen have been married for 20 years and have three children: Korie, Kurtis and Kaylee. As a 4th generation wheat farmer, Klein direct seeds spring crops on his farm at Edwall which receives about 13 inches of precipitation annually. Sixteen miles to the southwest, Klein farms ground that receives less than 12 inches of precipitation. The land is in a conventional three year rotation: winter wheat, spring wheat, summer fallow.  Klein also does custom no-till spring seeding, spraying and harvesting.

Damon Filan

Wheat Industry Representative

Fifty-eight year old Damon Filan, the Washington Grain Commission’s industry representative,
is manager of Tri-Cities Grain, marketing 20 to 25 million bushels of grain a year. Tri-Cities
Grain is owned by Northwest Grain Growers in Walla Walla, Central Washington Grain Growers
in Waterville and Tidewater Barge Lines in Vancouver.

Filan began serving on the WGC in January 2015. Growing up on a farm outside Hay, Wash.,
Filan expected to be a farmer himself one day, but after getting his first job in the grain industry,
he didn’t look back. He graduated from WSU with a degree in business marketing. He is
married to Jeanette.

Ty Jessup

Wheat Industry Representative

Ty Jessup, a native of Wilbur, WA, is the Export Industry Representative on the Washington
Grain Commission. He is currently the marketing manager for Central Washington Grain Growers Inc in Waterville.

Ty grew up on a cattle ranch and worked for local wheat farmers before leaving for
Washington State University. There, he received his undergraduate degree in agribusiness.
During his career, Ty has worked in the petroleum industry, agronomy, and the grain industry.

Ty, his wife and two children live in Waterville, WA. His goal on
the WGC is to “bring an commercial market perspective to Washington Wheat Growers.”

Scott Steinbacher

Washington State Dept. of Agriculture

Scott Steinbacher is the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) representative on the Washington Grain Commission board. He holds two positions within the WSDA. He is the Program Manager for the Warehouse Audit Program and the Eastern Regional Manager for the Grain Inspection Program. Scott has been with WSDA since 2011, starting as a grain inspector. He has moved through numerous jobs before his current roles.  He has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration as well as Federal Grain Inspection Service  licenses to inspect several commodities. Scott is originally from Fort Benton, MT and has resided in Spokane for 10 years. He and his wife, Tawni, have three children.