Author Archives: Anne Johnson

Wild West Seed sees flower interest rising

Wild West Seed Inc. has a quiet but substantial presence in southwest Idaho, where it grows some of its flower seeds and most of its vegetable seed. The Treasure Valley is far and away our biggest production region by acres,” Business Development Manager Matt Hilbert said. “On the vegetable side, most is grown in the Treasure Valley.”

The 20-year-old Wild West Seed, a family-owned company based in Albany, Ore., produces open-pollinated flower, vegetable and herb seed, and wildflower mixes for other seed companies that sell primarily to home gardeners. With 10 full-time employees, it does business nationally and to an extent internationally — competing with big-name, merger-enlarged agribusinesses, among others.

Those big companies participate in the same market. We are definitely small,” Hilbert said. “We will be faced with our challenges, but we enjoy what we are doing. Mother Nature can throw you the challenge, but the real challenge is overcoming. Between us in the group, we usually come up with some pretty good solutions.”

Wild West grows echinacea and perennial blue flax flower seed in the Treasure Valley of southwestern Idaho and southeastern Oregon, and has tried to grow some other flower seed in the region. It’s one of the company’s smaller flower-seed production areas, “but we have had growers in the area express interest in growing flower seed for us,” he said.

Read the article in full at Capital Press Here

Committees 2018-2019

Committees serve a vital purpose in forming the direction of the Oregon Seed Association and promoting the cause of the organization:
Committees serve as a training ground for future association leaders.
Committees serve as a conduit through which the Board receives member input.
Committees enhance the effectiveness of the Board of Directors by providing research analysis and advice needed for policy decisions.
A special “Thank You” to all of you who volunteer to serve on our committees!


Comprised of the President, Vice President, Secretary/Treasurer, and Executive Director.

Chair: Terri Burr, Pennington Seed, 541-971-4836
EP: Devon Klundt, Johanson Transportation, 503-624-1112

Co-chair: Nancy Aerni, Turf Merchants, 541-926-8649
Co-chair: Lisa Shogren, Oregon Seed Cleaning

Chair: Doug Pickles, Lewis Seed, 541-491-3700
Co-chair: Debra Barnes, SiteOne Landscape Supply, 503-363-6668
EP: Kirsten Pick, Columbia Seeds, 541-791-7631

Chair: Joe McAlhany, Jr., OreGro, 541-974-3201
Co-chair: Tony Ramirez, DLF-Pickseed, 541-657-8029

Chair: Greg Loberg, West Coast Beet Seed Co., 503-393-4600

Chair: Paul Hedgpeth, Columbia River Seed, 509-783-4052
Co-chair: Dustin Withee, Smith Seed, 541-369-2831
EP: Joe McAlhany, Jr., OreGro, 541-974-3201

Chair: James Schneider, Barenbrug USA, 541-926-5801
Co-chair: Doug Pickles, Lewis Seed, 541-491-3700
Co-chair: Terri Burr, Pennington Seed, 541-971-4836
EP: Kate Hartnell, Saddle Butte Ag, 541-928-0102

Chair: Colin Scott, Grassland Oregon, 630-553-5800
Co-chair: James Schneider, Barenbrug USA, 541-926-5801

Chair: Jeff Martin, The Scotts Co., 503-792-3631
Co-chair: Phill Lindgren, Grassland Oregon, 503-566-9900
EP: Tony Ramirez, DLF-Pickseed, 541-657-8029

Chair: Dustin Withee, Smith Seed, 541-369-2831
EP: Austin Lanzarone, DLF-Pickseed, 541-918-1001

Chair: JP Olson, Proseeds Marketing, 541-928-9999
Co-chair: Terri Burr, Pennington Seed, 541-971-4836
EP: Conner Lewis, Thomas Ag, 541-497-5010

Chair: JP Olson, Proseeds Marketing, 541-928-9999
Co-chair: Greg Loberg, West Coast Beet Seed Co., 503-393-4600

For a list of Advisory Committee members click here>>>

OSU names new dean for College of Ag

Alan Sams has been named dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University.

Alan Sams has been named dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University.

A new dean is coming to the Oregon State University College of Agricultural Sciences.The university on Tuesday named Alan Sams to lead the college, succeeding Dan Arp, who will retire at the end of August.

Sams has spent the last nine years as executive associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University, managing academic programs, personnel and budgeting for one of the largest agricultural colleges in the country, with 350 faculty, 7,800 students and a budget of more than $69 million.

At Oregon State, Sams will oversee 250 faculty, 2,600 students and a $90 million research budget. The OSU College of Agricultural Sciences offers 13 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, and works closely with state and federal partners including the USDA, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Forest Service and National Institutes of Health.

In a statement released Tuesday by the university, Sams said he is excited to join OSU, crediting a “student-centered environment combined with an excellent faculty at the forefront of their fields.”

“The breadth and economic importance of agriculture in Oregon, and the interest in environmental sustainability are factors which drew me to Oregon State University,” Sams said. “There is a tremendous innovative spirit here, whether it is in production agriculture or food entrepreneurship. Agriculture’s role in health, energy and national security is expanding and we need to lead that growth.”

Sams will also serve as director of the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station on campus in Corvallis. He begins his new duties Oct. 31. Bill Boggess, executive associate dean of the college, will serve as interim dean from Sept. 1 through Oct. 30 following Arp’s retirement.

During his nine years as executive associate dean at Texas A&M, Sams helped the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences increase enrollment by 25 percent, increase its budget by 30 percent and expand both research and international programs.

Sams was also previously dean of the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences at Clemson University from 2007 to 2009.

Sams holds a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in poultry science and a doctorate in food science and human nutrition, all from the University of Florida, where he started his academic career as a graduate assistant. He joined the Texas A&M faculty in the Department of Poultry Science and Food Science in 1984, where he stayed until he was named dean at Clemson. He then returned to Texas A&M in 2009.

Sams also has experience in the private sector, having worked as a quality assurance analyst with Gold Kist Poultry in Florida.

Ed Feser, OSU provost and vice president, described Sams as a seasoned and savvy administrator with a strong vision for the college.

“There’s the strong experience factor with Alan,” Feser told the Capital Press. “Also, I think he’s very comfortable and skilled working with the different constituencies you need to work with at an agricultural college.”

A hiring committee of 15 people selected Sams from among a field of 12 candidates, Feser said, which was whittled down to four finalists who each visited campus earlier this year.

Feser said Sams has a strong sense of the college’s ability to serve agriculture in Oregon, as well as nationally and internationally.

“He has a great interest in working with stakeholders,” Feser said.

Dave Dillon, executive vice president of the Oregon Farm Bureau, said that bodes well for members who depend on the university for data, outreach and educating the next generation of farmers and ranchers.

“For us, OSU is our land grant institution,” Dillon said. “It has the closest connection to family farms and ranches. The things that they do have an ongoing relevance to producers well beyond their college years.”

Dillon said he had the chance to meet with Sams in person on campus, and is pleased with the hire.
“I feel very optimistic that he is going to do great things for the College of Agricultural Sciences and the university,” Dillon said.

Published in the Capital Press

Automation paves the way for West Coast Companies in Salem

Capital Press

SALEM, Ore. — Andrew Burleigh knows the concern is there, that robots could soon replace many human workers in agriculture and food processing, but he insists that isn’t the case.
Automated systems are not replacing people, Burleigh said, but redefining what they do. For example, instead of hoisting 50-pound bags of product and loading them onto pallets by hand, a machine can now do the heavy lifting while employees transition to more favorable, less physical jobs.

“I haven’t seen technology be this big replacing entity,” said Burleigh, general manager of West Coast Companies in Salem. “More and more, this is what customers are looking for.”

West Coast Companies, which started in 1998 as West Coast Seed Mill Supply, specializes in the design and sale of farm factory equipment including robotic conveyors, sealers and stackers. The family-owned business works with more than 50 suppliers, distributing to customers from single growers to Fortune 500 companies.

It was Burleigh’s father-in-law, Dwayne Hayden, who launched West Coast Seed Mill Supply to help grass seed growers adopt new equipment. Twenty years later, the companies have branched out to serve a variety of agricultural and non-agricultural products — everything from hazelnuts to concrete.
“If it’s a material that needs to be processed, stored and packaged, we can work with anybody,” Burleigh said.

The companies now include West Coast Seed Mill Supply, West Coast Nut Processing Supply, West Coast Packaging Solutions and American Ag Systems, which helps with installation and maintenance. Offices are in Salem, Twin Falls, Idaho, and Great Falls, Mont.

Burleigh said there is a growing emphasis on automation in agriculture to help the industry navigate labor turmoil, including worker shortages that have companies struggling to fill shifts on the production line.

“You have presidents of companies start breaking down and go stacking on the production line,” Burleigh said. “That’s usually when we get the call.”

One piece of technology Burleigh highlighted was the robotic palletizer, essentially a robot arm with metallic “fingers” capable of stacking products onto pallets for shipping.

In the face of tightening labor, Burleigh said the palletizers can work around the clock, and certain models can even wrap the pallets as they are being packed.

The next big push, he said, is companies looking to vertical integration, owning more of their own manufacturing equipment to send their products directly to market.
“People want to produce their own label,” he said.

Looking ahead, Burleigh said West Coast Companies is continuing to look at new markets and help serve a broader base of customers with automated lines.

“This is something the agriculture industry is really starting to embrace,” Burleigh said.

This article is from the Capital Press.

Oregon Court of Appeals affirms ruling overturning GMO ban

September 26, 2017

A ruling that invalidated a GMO ban in Oregon’s Josephine County has been affirmed on appeal.

The Oregon Court of Appeals has affirmed that a prohibition against genetically engineered crops in Josephine County is pre-empted by state law.

Voters in Josephine County approved the ban in 2014, nearly a year after state lawmakers passed a bill barring local governments from regulating genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

Farmers Robert and Shelley Ann White, who wanted to plant biotech sugar beets, convinced Josephine County Circuit Judge Pat Wolke that the local GMO ban was unlawful in 2016.

Oregonians for Safe Farms and Families, a nonprofit, and Siskiyou Seeds, an organic farm, intervened in that case as defendants, allowing them to challenge Wolke’s decision before the Oregon Court of Appeals.

The appeals court has now upheld the ruling without comment, but GMO critics vow to continue the battle in the legislative arena.

“We’re still firm in our resolve to protect farmers in Josephine County”, said Mary Middleton, executive director of Oregonians for Safe Farms and Families. “We’re not giving up, we’re not giving in.”

Middleton said her organization has decided not to pursue further litigation but will instead focus on persuading lawmakers to invalidate the pre-emption statute or otherwise allow Josephine County’s ordinance to be enforced.

“The will of the people is being ignored”, she said.

When passing the GMO pre-emption bill, lawmakers vowed to create a statewide system for overseeing GMOs, but instead they have left a “regulatory void”, Middleton said.

Under Oregon law, Jackson County lawfully approved a GMO ban because its initiative was on the ballot before the state pre-emption was approved.

The Oregon Legislature passed the pre-emption bill to avoid a county-by-county patchwork of restrictions for genetically engineered crops, said Scott Dahlman, policy director for Oregonians for Food and Shelter, an agribusiness group that opposed the GMO ban.

“We think the legislature has spoken very clearly on this issue”, he said. “Farmers should be allowed to choose what crops they grow”.

Repeated attempts to overturn the pre-emption law have been made since it was originally enacted in 2013, but none have gained much traction, Dahlman said.

Because the Oregon Court of Appeals affirmed Wolke’s ruling without opinion, the ruling doesn’t set a binding precedent that other courts must follow, said John DiLorenzo, attorney for the Whites.

However, the decision is likely to be “persuasive” if the pre-emption issue should arise in other counties, since existing case law would support the same outcome, DiLorenzo said.

“They don’t need further precedents. They’ve already got several”, he said.

Josephine County’s experience will probably dissuade similar ballot initiatives in other jurisdictions, since the legal arguments defending the GMO ban did not pass legal muster, DiLorenzo said.

“I think it would be very difficult to persuade anyone to put resources into an initiative that’s destined to be a fool’s errand”, he said.

Read the article in the Capitol Press
Written by Mateusz Perkowski

Landmark Turf and Native Seed joins the Alliance for Low Input Sustainable Turf


August 23, 2017; Landmark Turf and Native Seed has joined the Alliance for Low Input Sustainable Turf. The A-LIST is proud to have Landmark join its ranks and help further promote sustainable turf nationally. As a leader in the reclamation, native and rangeland segments of the seed industry, Landmark brings a wealth of knowledge to the group and a history of promoting “green” products. This core competency helped set Landmark apart from other prospective new members the A-LIST had been evaluating.

“We are very excited to have Landmark on board. They have a great history marketing sustainable product and a stable of top-rated varieties,” said A-LIST Executive Director Jeremy Husen. “We didn’t want just any new member, we wanted the right new member.”

Landmark Turf and Native Seed, founded in 1996, has been on the cutting edge of change and has led the introduction of new genetics and production into new regions. Today, Landmark leads the global trend toward increased environmental responsibility. This sustainable movement, deeply rooted in its heritage, reinforces the Landmark belief that everyone must be good stewards of the environment. From production, to formulating, mixing and marketing, Landmark Turf & Native Seed provides industry leading agro-economic solutions.

“This is the right group for us to be a part of at the right time,” said Ray Brubaken, Landmark President. “The A-LIST has a good reputation and is interested in promoting great varieties. That suits us well.”

In addition to Landmark, the A-LIST members include DLF Pickseed, Mountain View Seeds and Lebanon Seaboard. These four members represent the leading producers, genetics and marketers of sustainable turfgrass varieties on the market today.

For more information on the A-LIST contact Jeremy Husen, A-LIST Executive Director ( or 541-760-3494)

The A-LIST is an independent, non-profit, industry initiative, fostering development of sustainable turfgrass varieties and related products that perform their function with less maintenance inputs, thus benefiting the environment. A-LIST monitors a voluntary evaluation program including metrics like water conservation, reduced fertility and traffic, heat, and drought stress tolerances, all with no fungicide or insecticide applications.  Products that meet the acceptance criteria can utilize the A-LIST Approved symbol in their marketing and receive the A-LIST Approved tag for use in packaging.

Native seed business takes root

Craig Edminster started Pacific NW Natives in 1996. Native Seeds

Craig Edminster with his daughters Michele Santoyo, left, and Sarah Stutzman, right. Although Michele and Sarah helped in the fields growing up, it was only in the past couple of years that they decided to work full-time for the company.

ALBANY, Ore.- Sarah Stutzman and Michele Santoyo didn’t realize how hard their dad, Craig Edminster, worked until they joined him at Pacific NW Natives a few years ago.

You have to be a glutton for punishment, Stutzman said about their native seed production enterprise. My dad works his a– off, always has.

Edminster started Pacific NW Natives in 1996 after working as a research scientist for a cooperative of Western farmers.

It was there that Edminsters interest in native plant species began.

Natives are quite unique. I didn’t switch 100 percent; I needed a day job, he said. The native seed business was strong east of the Cascades because it was funded by (Bureau of Land Management) money. But I saw it was a growth market with not a lot of competitors.

The Albany, Ore., business struggled for the first couple of years, and most of the seed was taken to the dump, he said. However, Edminster continued to contract with organizations such as the Calapooia Watershed Council, FFA and 4-H. Eventually they also contracted with the BLM for a program based on indefinite delivery and indefinite quantity, which funded Edminster because his seeds were good for forest restoration.

Thats what really put us on the map. Private dollars aren’t going to make this industry grow over a couple of years; public dollars are the way to get this thing going, Edminster said.

The biggest learning curve, Edminster said, was not knowing when to cut the grass, how to fertilize it, and if it needed irrigation or required a combine.

Every population is different; even in the same gene of species, he said.

Stutzman and Santoyo said it was the same with cleaning the seed. As children, they cleaned each seed by hand because the company couldn’t afford a seed cleaner.

We had a 50-pound bag of dirty seed and a tweezer to pinch the seed out onto white paper, Stutzman said.

Edminster estimates that no more than 30 or 50 growers have ever tried local natives in their production fields because of the risk of not making money.

When I was in the field it was all worked by hand with species that were too delicate to be put through the combine. We had to have a group of people going down aisles with scissors or taking seed off with their hands, Stutzman said.

Its very time-consuming, and makes it more expensive and difficult to handle. People want them, but they don’t want to invest that time and effort, she said.

Stutzman said shes vacuumed seeds off the ground to save them. Santoyo added that those few seeds were worth $30.

Most of what we do is as difficult as you can get, Edminster said.

Stutzman and Santoyo knew that their father worked a lot, but they didn’t realize how hard until they committed to the company.

Its constant and doesn’t stop. When you participate in it, you see how hard it is, Stutzman said. I worked in the field with my now husband, and harvesting stuff is really difficult. You’re laying it out on tarps and drying it, then pitchforking it into a thrasher and then to the seed cleaner. It’s much more difficult than commercial grasses.

Although Edminster joked about retiring as soon as he can, his daughters say they don’t see that happening.

Read the article in The Capitol Press here.

Lebanon resident wins seed award

The Oregon Seed Association’s Scholarship Committee recognized two talented young women as recipients of the OSA Memorial Scholarship Award during its 2017 Summer Convention, held in June, at the Riverhouse on the Deschutes in Bend.

Awards to Nicole Cavill and Brenda Birrueta were presented at their respective high school awards ceremonies in May, and recognized by OSA membership.

Brenda Birrueta is from Lebanon, and is the daughter of Celestino and Carmen Birrueta, both longtime employees of Barenbrug USA in Tangent. Brenda just finished her sophomore year of studies at Oregon State University, majoring in Business Administration with a minor in Spanish. With a career focus in Human Resources, she is hoping to find an internship this summer working for a local company in Business Management.

OSA established its Memorial Scholarship award to honor the memories of leaders of the seed industry, and to recognize their commitment and service to the Oregon Seed Association. The Memorial Scholarship is awarded each year to a student that is the child or grandchild of a member employee and is seeking higher education. Students are selected based on academic achievement, as well as extracurricular and community involvement.

Read the article in the Lebanon Express here.

Albany Democrat Herald-At Our Best

at our best

OSU students win fellowships

The Oregon Seed Association Scholarship Committee recognized two Oregon State University as recipients of the Kent Wiley Jr. Fellowship during its mid-winter meeting, held Jan. 10 at the Salem Convention Center.

At the time of the award, Tara Bergland was a first-year graduate student researching the efficacy of plant growth regulator mixtures on seed yield and yield components in tall fescue. She has volunteered at the OSU Dairy Barn, and has done trail maintenance for Corvallis parks. In 2013, while traveling in Tanzania, she was able to see different sides of agriculture, including coffee and sugar cane farms.

Also receiving an award was Lucas Bobadilla. Bobadilla grew up in Brazil on his grandfather’s farm, which shaped his love of agriculture and his desire to improve practices. At the time of the award, he was a first-year graduate student studying the frequency and distribution of Glyphosate-resistant populations of annual ryegrass. In 2015, he spent a year as a research assistant in the weed science lab at University of California, Davis. He previously worked as an intern studying the control of the weed Elesine indica in sugar cane in Brazil. He is a twice-published co-author of research papers.

Read the article in the Albany Democrat-herald here

Ports hail longshore contract extension

The Pacific Maritime Association says it has reached a three-year contract extension with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union hopefully preventing any work slowdowns like one three years ago that damaged agricultural and non-agricultural exports and the U.S. economy.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association have agreed to a three-year extension of their current contract, which was due to expire in 2019.

PMA President James McKenna announced the extension July 28, saying PMA proposed a contract extension earlier in the year with the intent to create long term certainty for West Coast ports and all stakeholders. The PMA negotiates labor agreements on behalf of port operators.

Early voting returns show strong ILWU support for our proposal, which would ensure labor stability through 2022. This historic agreement will be great news for the maritime industry, as well as our customers, workers, port communities and the U.S. economy, McKenna said in a released statement.

The extension is subject to final confirmation by the ILWU and is expected next week, he said. It covers workers at all 29 West Coast container ports.

Agricultural exporters are greatly relieved that we have now removed one of the primary motivations for the West Coast meltdown of a few years ago, Peter Friedmann, executive director of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition in Washington, D.C., told Capital Press.

Inability of the ILWU and PMA to reach a new contract three years ago led to a months-long union work slowdown that cost farmers, manufacturers and retailers across the U.S. hundreds of millions of dollars in losses because they could not get exported or imported goods to market.

Last November, U.S. Reps. Dave Reichert and Dan Newhouse, both R-Wash., and Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., renewed their plea for the PMA and ILWU to work together to avoid another slowdown.

They said the 2014-2015 disruption cost the U.S. economy an estimated $7 billion. Growers dumped spoiled produce, manufacturers were delayed in getting parts and retailers had empty shelves, the representatives wrote in a letter to PMA and ILWU.

Read the full story in the Capitol Press here.