Subcommittee passes revised canola bill

Capital Press

SALEM — A legislative subcommittee has approved a bill banning all but a smattering of canola production in the Willamette Valley until Jan. 2, 2019.

House Bill 2427 as amended also allocates $679,000 in general funds to study how canola production would affect the valley’s specialty seed crops.

The bill marks a departure from an Oregon Department of Agriculture rule issued in February that allowed up to 2,500 acres of canola production in the valley outside a restricted zone in the heart of the valley, where the bulk of Oregon’s specialty seed production occurs.

HB2427 calls for Oregon State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences to produce up to 500 acres of canola in the valley for research purposes for three years, keeping intact isolation distances between canola and specialty seed crops that equal or exceed industry-recommended isolation distances.

The bill calls for the college to develop information and recommendations regarding whether, and under what conditions, canola can be grown in the valley compatibly with other crops. And it calls for the college to complete its research and deliver a report to lawmakers no later than Nov. 1, 2017.

HB2427 also calls for the college to conduct field monitoring of the acreage used for the canola study for the presence of volunteer plants, diseases and insects for five years after completing the research.

In earlier testimony before the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Natural Resources, specialty seed producers said widespread canola production will lead to an increase in insect, weed and disease pressure in the valley’s multi-million-dollar specialty seed industry, and ultimately run their industry out of the valley.

Producers hoping to grow canola commercially in the valley said it is a valuable rotation crop that can be produced in a way that doesn’t threaten the specialty seed industry.

Advocates for growing canola in the valley also contend the Legislature should not be regulating crop production, a job they said belongs with the state Department of Agriculture.

Ivan Maluski, policy director for Friends of Family Farmers, a group supporting a ban on canola production in the valley, said his organization supports the bill, but characterized the amendment offered June 18 as a compromise.

“The amendment that passed today is a big step back from the original canola prohibition proposed in HB2427 as introduced,” Maluski said. “It grandfathers in pre-existing producers who operate outside of the 2009 Willamette Valley Protected District boundaries, while the original bill would have banned them from growing it, and it would allow significantly more canola for research inside the protected area’s boundaries than has been grown before.”

The Ways and Means Subcommittee on Natural Resources on June 18 moved the bill with a do-pass recommendation to the full Ways and Means Committee with only one objection.

HB2427 must now gain approval from the Ways and Means Committee, the full House and Senate and the governor before becoming law.

Published 6/18/13 in the Capital Press

Sprague Pest Solutions Named a Top 100 Company

Tacoma, Wash. – Sprague Pest Solutions (, a third-generation, family-owned provider of pest management services, was recently named to the Pest Control Technology Magazine Top 100 List, an annual compilation of the leading pest management companies in the United States. The list was included in the magazine’s May issue (

For more, see Sprague Named A Top 100 Company

Senate passes ODA budget

Capital Press

SALEM — The Oregon Senate on June 13 passed the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s proposed 2013-15 budget with only 1 “no” vote.

ODA Director Katy Coba earlier characterized the budget as “probably the best budget we’ve had since I’ve been director.”

The budget increases the department’s overall funding from $84 million in 2011-13 to just under $95 million for the next biennium.

Full-time staff under the budget would increase from 343 to 351.

Earlier in the budget process, while in the joint Ways and Means Natural Resources Subcommittee, lawmakers added $500,000 to the department’s weed program, a program that was facing $518,896 in cuts under a previous budget proposal.

And the subcommittee increased the state’s wolf compensation and assistance fund from $100,000 in the current biennium to $200,000 for the next two years.

Lawmakers also continued to fund the state’s pesticide stewardship partnership program, putting $1.49 million into the partnership.

And lawmakers put $4.4 million into the department’s agricultural water quality program, including $1.9 million of general funds.

Lawmakers also provided the department a water-quantity position to work on increasing water supply development in Oregon.

Published 6/13/13 in the Capital Press

Experts say ryegrass seed exports have likely peaked

Capital Press

The robust growth in ryegrass seed exports seen in recent years has likely peaked due to diminished European demand and higher domestic prices, experts say.

“The party is over,” said Steve Tubbs, president of Turf Merchants, Inc., in Tangent, Ore. “In general, there’s not much good news at the export desk now.”

The value and volume of ryegrass seed exports surged in 2011, stayed strong in 2012, and saw a healthy uptick during the first quarter of 2013, according to federal trade data.

Higher sales in early 2013 likely represented the tail end of the upswing in exports, said Tubbs. The dimming prospects for exports are largely due to the market outlook in Europe, a major buyer of perennial ryegrass seed for turf.

Unseasonably low temperatures and adverse weather in Europe have hampered demand for perennial ryegrass seed, said Aaron Kuenzi, vice president and marketing manager at Mountain View Seeds in Salem, Ore.

“Spring business is weather-driven, even more than economy-driven,” he said.

Of course, the economic situation within the European Union continues to be troubled and the dollar has grown stronger against the euro, making U.S. grass seed more expensive in Europe, said Bill Dunn, executive vice president and general manager of Seed Research of Oregon in Corvallis, Ore.

“That may be the real sleeper in the deal,” Dunn said of the currency fluctuation.

Even without the change in currency values, grass seed has risen in price due to limited availability, he said. Growers in Oregon’s Willamette Valley have been planting more wheat and other crops that compete with grass seed.

“It seems like a lot more of everything and a lot less of grass,” Dunn said.

Fortunately, sales of grass seed in the U.S. are strong enough that companies won’t have to rely on exports to clear out inventories, said Tubbs.

“We think the good news is the supply and demand are very much in equilibrium,” he said.

While domestic demand for ryegrass seed appears sufficient, it’s strongest during the fall and spring seasons, said Sam Cable, export and seed position manager at Barenbrug USA in Tangent, Ore.

Exports, on the other hand, provide an outlet for grass seed throughout the year, he said. “It’s critical for cash flow for the entire industry.”

The prognosis for exports isn’t entirely negative, as the demand for annual ryegrass seed — primarily used for livestock forage, rather than turf — is healthy in emerging markets like China that are consuming more meat and dairy, Cable said.

“They get on buying streaks,” he said. “China needs a lot of milk. More milk than they ever thought.”

However, changes in Chinese regulations could cramp exports due to stricter permitting requirements that represent a “major shift in how they buy seed,” said Tubbs.

The fundamentally solid reputation of Oregon grass seed remains unchanged, though, so overseas buyers will continue to rely on the region for at least a decent portion of their supplies, Kuenzi said.

“They know they can count on the quality and consistency,” he said.

Published 6/12/13 in the Capital Press

Special Local Need Registration (SLN) for Colt AS Herbicide, EPA Reg. No. 34704-1019

Here is an approved Special Local Need Registration (SLN) for Colt AS Herbicide, EPA Reg. No. 34704-1019 for control of weeds in grasses grown for forage or hay in Idaho, manufactured by Loveland Products, Inc, SLN #ID-130010.

Idaho Dept of Agriculture Letter

Colt AS Herbicide EPA Reg. No. 34704-1019

Roger Batt
Pacific Seed Association

Seed Feeds The World – PSA TV Spot

Please see the You Tube video below that the Pacific Seed Association has produced.  Not only will this one minute commercial be used on social media, but it will also be televised across 13 states within PSA’s Geographic area.

Roger Batt
Pacific Seed Association

Farm Bill Seed Amendment – Update

State Friends:

Thank you to all of you who have weighed in with Congress on the amendment impacting seed imports. We are down to the wire in the Senate. If you have reached out before to your Senate offices now would be a good time to remind them that this amendment is important.

Here’s the latest:

We were able to reach an agreement with Sen. Boxer’s staff on changes to the amendment language. The attached modified amendment was submitted today [June 5, 2013]. Chairwoman Stabenow is still deciding which amendments will be part of the final package. The fact that we have sign-off from Boxer and bi-partisan support weighs in our favor but there are a lot of  amendments for her to choose from.

Please send the following message if you can:

We have worked on a bi-partisan basis to develop an amendment that will solve a pressing problem for the seed industry.  Please let Chairwoman Stabenow know that the Fischer-Carper amendment will ensure that your constituents  have access to the best seeds and technology when they need them.  

Jane DeMarchi
VP, Government and Regulatory Affairs
American Seed Trade Association
703-837-8140×328 (office)
301-706-3454 (cell)

Asulox Herbicide

For those of you in the Alfalfa Seed Industry, attached is a newly approved label for Asulox as an herbicide for Alfalfa Seed grown in Idaho.

Thank you,

Roger Batt
Pacific Seed Association

EPA Makes Emergency Exempted and Special Local Needs Pesticide Products Available in Indian Country Nationwide

EPA Pesticide Program Updates

From EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs

EPA Makes Emergency Exempted and Special Local Needs Pesticide Products Available in Indian Country Nationwide

On Tuesday, May 21, 2013, Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe finalized a program to allow growers in Indian country nationwide to use certain registered pesticide products not currently available for use in Indian country to combat pests in emergency situations or when there is a special local need.

Under federal pesticide law, tribes and farmers in Indian country do not explicitly have access to the benefits of pesticide emergency exemptions or special local needs registrations (state-specific registrations). Pest control products permitted under these circumstances may be especially useful when growers in a particular region identify a pest problem that federally registered products do not currently alleviate. Lack of availability of these products denies access for growers and public health officials in Indian country to the same pest control tools that are available elsewhere in the United States.

Effective immediately, if all conditions of the program are met, growers in those areas of Indian country where the emergency exemption or special local need registration has been granted will have access to those pesticides approved under the program. Applicators should contact the local tribal authorities regarding tribal laws or regulations and comply with any applicable tribal restrictions.

This program marks the final step in the EPA’s efforts to make emergency exemption and special local need products available in relevant areas of Indian country. This decision is based on a successful three-year pilot program developed after long and careful consideration, in consultation with tribes, and with input from various stakeholders.

Learn more about the decision, including special conditions that apply on the Tribal Pesticide Program Council Web page under “Quick Resources” at:

Oregon Seed Council Update-May 29, 2013

I attended the Oregon Seed Council meeting last night with Bryan Muntz, and have prepared the following update. If you have any questions about the following, please do not hesitate to call: 503-858-4416.

Updates from the Commissions and the OSC committees were brief, and some had no report to offer at all. A bulk of the conversation revolved around slug control and different associations outside of the seed industry that may have an interest in battling slugs with us. Cattlemen were specifically mentioned as they see a substantial annual loss associated with slugs. This led to a conversation about an endowed professorship at OSU that would focus on entomology.

I updated the Oregon Seed Council on several items: I noted that the new OSA website had gone live; I noticed a few people jotting down the website URL and we did receive positive feedback from those who had already been to look at the new site. I noted that the OSA web link was not on the OSC website and that we would like to have that issue fixed as soon as possible. I noted that we are watching for unfriendly ballot measures being submitted to the Oregon Secretary of State’s office that seek to regulate the seed industry from the citizen level. The Summer Convention was brought up, as well as our effort to put together a summary that demonstrates the economic benefit of the seed industry to Oregon.

I have attached the OSU Update as it is always presented in hard copy.

Ron Pence with the Department of Ag was present. He noted that there is currently one slow pay no pay claim that looks like it is going to the license suspension stage. Pence noted that the seed contracting law that passed in 2011 did have a part to play in giving the Department the authority to fully investigate, work on mitigating the issue between the parties, and ultimately make the decision to seek license suspension. Pence also noted that the department is working on an administrative rule associated with Rathayibacter Toxicus. I have attached the ODA Update he provided on a quarantine proposal to deal with the issue, should it become a problem. There was also a brief conversation about the consistency of seed sampling, which validates the conversations that OSA has had internally about how to develop a more reliable and consistent system of sampling. Pence ended his update by noting that the Department is now working on sending out phyto certificates via email, a process that they have asked OSA to engage in as well.

Hope you are well.

Greg Miller
Executive Director