Wyoming proud grain, Whaley Grain keeps products local
Greybull – Two years ago Mike Whaley found a need in the agricultural industry for Wyoming-grown grain.
“I started looking at the tags on the grain bags, and I noticed that all of the grain came from out of state,” explains Whaley, co-owner of Whaley Grain Company. “It didn’t matter to me which state the grain came from, but it certainly wasn’t from Wyoming.”
He adds, “I couldn’t find Wyoming-grown feed grains anywhere. I’m not talking about processed grains. I’m talking about oats, cracked corn and whole corn.”
“We farm in the Bighorn Basin, and I know farmers and ranchers from that area are always looking for a way to get rid of their field grains,” describes Whaley. “Then it occurred to me that we needed a better system to do that.”
Whaley and his wife Laura brainstormed the idea of starting their own grain business to promote Wyoming grain. They began making several phone calls for advice, attended a business boot camp in Cody and eventually bought a bagging system to start their business.
“We wanted to make sure that if we did actually decide to start this grain business, we wouldn’t be a flash in the pan – here and gone,” states Whaley.
He adds, “We really did our research and set ourselves up right, so when we started our grain business we would come out and be a professional and reliable company able to offer a product for a very long time.”
The next step the Whaley’s took for their grain business was purchasing a bagging system, getting all of their scales certified and registering their feed.
“We had to get a license was with the University of Wyoming for the bucking horse and rider logo,” he explains. “We wanted people to immediately recognize that it was a Wyoming product when they entered a feed store.”
The Whaleys also did their own market research, and every retailer they talked to told them the best grains to focus on were oats, whole corn and cracked corn.
“Basically, if it can come off of a combine and be cleaned, we’ll use it. As far as milling anything, we are not set-up for that at the moment,” says Whaley. “However, every product we put into our bags is tested, so we know the nutrition content of it.”
He adds, “We don’t mix corn and oats in the same bag at the moment. We are exploring blending some grains in the near future.”
“We have no intention whatsoever to sell grains outside of Wyoming. Our mantra is stated right on our bag – we grow Wyoming, and it is going to stay in Wyoming,” claims Whaley.
He adds, “We feel it is very important that we grow Wyoming and keep those dollars in our state. We don’t have anything against any farmers in any other state, but we sure like the farmers that we have in this state.”
Whaley further explains, ‘Wyoming Agriculture, “Wyoming Communities” is specifically printed on their bags because they believe agriculture and communities go hand-in-hand.
“The stronger one is, the stronger the other is. If we can support each other, that’s the symbiotic relationship needed to make both thrive,” he states.
“We have had a tremendous welcoming of our product in local feed stores and co-ops because they get it right away and understand their patrons want to buy local products,” comments Whaley.
The Whaleys strive to be a competitive, high-quality grain in feed stores, while also supporting their local farmers and ranchers.
Whaley explains they will not compete with their customers, and their customers are the feed stores.
“We want to have a large network of producers, feed stores and co-ops who can support everything, and hopefully we can be a key to make that all happen,” he describes.
Whaley continuously receives offers from farmers all across Wyoming wanting to sell their grain to him.
“It’s tremendously exciting to me because we have been getting grains from friends and neighbors and using our own, but if we can get grains from across the state then it truly is, ‘We grow Wyoming.’ We are supporting communities all across the state,” Whaley comments.
Whaley mentions that he looks for high quality grains, specifically Yellow 1 or 2 corn and 38- to 42-pound oats. All grain must be weed free.
“We do have a grain cleaner, and we run everything through it, but we are not looking for problem grain. We are looking for high-quality grain that we can stand behind,” states Whaley.
He adds, “That was part of the reason why we put our name on the bag and made it Whaley Grain Company. We wanted people to be comfortable that when they bought our grain they could call and talk to a Whaley.”
Grain produced by the Whaley Grain Company can be found in feed stores located in the north and central parts of Wyoming. Starting in July, they will expand their grain market to the southern part of Wyoming.
Whaley Grain sells grain in totes or by the semi load, as well.
“We wanted to make sure that when we went to the southern part of Wyoming to market our grain we would be able to deliver to those people on time and be the supplier they needed,” states Mike Whaley, co-owner of Whaley Grain Company.
He adds, “We are looking forward to meeting a lot of people at the fairs, and we are especially looking forward to meeting more producers, retailers and customers.”
The Whaleys look forward to introducing themselves and their product to the public and are excited to meet people in Gillette at the Campbell County Fair and in Douglas for the Wyoming State Fair.