Category Archives: Recent News

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 industryleading 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.

DLF and Zaad set up new joint venture in South Africa

press DLF

Roskilde, Denmark & Cape Town, South Africa                                                            June 19, 2017

DLF Seeds A/S (“DLF Seeds”) and Zaad Holdings Limited (“Zaad”), announced today that they have formed an alliance and agreed to enter into a joint venture, which shall be effective from July 1, 2017 (“Joint Venture”). The Joint Venture shall be known as DLF Seeds (Pty) Ltd. The objective of the Joint Venture is to expand the marketing and sale of temperate forage, turf grass, clover and alfalfa seed to wholesale customers in the Southern African market by introducing superior genetics and solutions through local testing and technical support.

With the Joint Venture serving as sourcing and supply vehicle, Zaad will continue to distribute and market forage and turf grass seed through its well established Agricol and K2 Klein-Karoo Seed Marketing brands and DLF will continue to serve its wholesale clients.

Truels Damsgaard, CEO of DLF Seeds, commented: “We are looking forward to grow our seed business in Africa with Zaad being a strong partner, not only in South Africa but also in other neighboring African countries. Our new joint venture is a market leader in forage and turf grass seed and holds a strong portfolio, combining the best products from DLF and Zaad.”

Antonie Jacobs, CEO of Zaad said: “With DLF’s dedication and commitment to forage and turf grass seed, our new joint venture will provide access to the latest developments from DLF global research programs and will enable distribution of high quality forage and turf grass seed through our global sales network.”

About Zaad:

Zaad operates in the specialised agri-inputs industry and currently owns, develops, imports and distributes a broad range of agri-seeds in Africa, Europe, Middle East and other international markets. The specialised agri-inputs market, and in particular the seed segment in Africa, remains attractive and Zaad is well positioned to benefit from growth opportunities that it offers. Through its extensive sales channels, Zaad and its subsidiaries distribute seed to 28 African countries and has subsidiaries and/or affiliated companies in South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Angola. To learn more, visit,,,

About DLF Seeds

DLF Seeds is a global seed company dealing in forage and turf seeds, and other crops. The company is a leading player providing grass and clover seeds to more than 80 countries. DLF Seeds’ headquarters is in Roskilde, Denmark. DLF Seeds has a strong focus on science and plant breeding, with approximately 10% of the company’s 800 employees dedicated to research. The company is owned by a cooperative of 3,200 Danish farmers. To learn more visit

For more information, contact:

Zaad: Antonie Jacobs , CEO, e-mail:  phone:0027 83325 8691

DLF: Stig Oddershede, Communications Manager, e-mail:, phone: 0045 40303248

Sprague Pest Solutions Named A Top 100 Company

Spague Pest

Sprague Pest Solutions
Named A Top 100 Company

Tacoma, Wash. (June 19, 2017) – Tacoma-based Sprague Pest Solutions ( moved up three places to the 25th spot on the 2017 Pest Control Technology magazine Top 100 List. The list was included in the magazine’s May issue (

Sprague protects some of the world’s largest food processing and distribution facilities for many of the most recognizable consumer brands from potentially disease-transmitting pests including rodents, ants, cockroaches, bed bugs, nuisance birds, stinging insects, stored product pests, and flies.

The company also offers specialty technical services including risk assessments and audit preparation, heat treatments, commodity fumigations and fumigation alternatives, large-scale bird exclusion and management, and employee and food safety training.

Sprague recently acquired TMC Pest Management in Bakersfield, Calif., marking its expansion into California and giving it the ability to protect food processing, distribution and transportation facilities in California’s agriculture-rich San Juaquin Valley from the threats posed by pests.

“As we expand our footprint along the Pacific Coast, we are proud and humbled to be named to PCT magazine’s Top 100 List once again,” says Alfie Treleven, CEO and president of Sprague Pest Solutions. “Our inclusion on the list is about more than securing a ranking; it reflects nine decades of consistently delivering quality, innovative pest management services to our valued commercial clients, and investing in exceptional people to care for these clients.”

Sprague, a fourth-generation, family-owned company, provides vital preventive and remedial pest management and consulting services to leading food processing, agriculture, healthcare, hospitality and distribution facilities from Washington state to southern California. The company operates service centers across six states including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Colorado and California.  

Media Contact

Carrie Thibodeaux
Sprague Pest Solutions
(253) 405-2590 /

Canyon Views: From a Field of Weeds to a Field of Dreams

You have all heard of the field of dreams?  Not so very long ago we had a vast field of weeds and grass growing out of a swampy, muddy pool in the center of the play area at Cloverdale Elementary School.

This was supposed to be the main game and activity area designated for our students. The potential for baseball, soccer and other games were obvious and tantalizing for our students, who for years attempted to venture out into the wet morass, often finding themselves sinking into the dark, sticky goo that oozed up their legs as their shoes slowly sunk into the mud.

Having a large usable filed seemed like a hopeless dream that would never come true. The extensive work required to make the field a suitable place for children to play was too expensive.

Eventually, we had to ban students from going near the field so children were confined to a very small play area.

Then, what I consider a miracle occurred.

Tom Lovell, our facilities director, reached out to a few community members and organized a small army of generous volunteers who came together to turn our field of weeds into a beautiful field of dreams.

In addition to Tom’s efforts in organizing and supervising the work on the field, several other folks need to be acknowledged. Gordon and Noah Hilton provided several workers, materials and equipment needed to install the drain tiles. Dennis Bethel donated a backhoe, truck, bulldozers and two of his employees — all at no charge.

Baker donated his tractor, tools and two workers. Mike and Brian Everitt brought in their personal tractor and the equipment needed to prepare the field to plant the grass seed.

Finally, Stacy Kuenzi donated 800 to 1000 pounds of grass seed on behalf of the company she works for, Mountain View Seed.

This is a wonderful example of what a community can do when they come together for a common purpose.

It’s difficult to put into words how grateful we all are for the kindness and generosity of the very special people who transformed our field from a swamp to a field of dreams. A field filled with happy children playing, learning and growing. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you!

Christy Wilkins is the principal of Cloverdale Elementary School in the Cascade School District. She can be reached at 503-749-8050 or

See the original article published by the Statesman Journal here.