By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Battle over seed growing rules could affect supply

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Unfortunately, this article presents the issue mainly from the point of view of organic or specialty seed growers. I was a member of the working group which ODA (not OSU - just one of the many factual errors in the article) was instructed to convene after the last session. Additionally, from the OSU research, canola is no different from other brassica crops. It is no more likely to outcross, harbor disease or insects and there is no scientific reason to treat it differently than other brassicas. This was research conducted by one of the most respected weed scientists in the US today. The working group agreed on creating a fair pinning system and isolation distances which would protect specialty seed growers - we were so close to a new deal. In terms of not having value, canola pays better than most other rotation crops which we have available to us. We need rotation crops when we grow grass seed. Grass seed is the third most valuable crop in Oregon and contributes greatly to the economic well being of the state. It is also important for carbon sequestration. An average US soil hold 20 t/ac of carbon, while a typical grass seed field in Oregon stores 35 t/ac of carbon. However, to continue being able to grow clean grass seed, we need viable rotation crops - canola would be well suited for that. So while canola cannot compete on a $/ac with specialty seed crops, it could make a huge contribution towards keeping grass seed a viable crop for the valley. These concepts are difficult, but deserves to get both side accurately presented rather than the biased presentation in the article. It is possible to come up with a system which will protect all farmers and be fair to all. As it is, the legislature went back to the status quo and nothing will change. There will be a 500 acre limit (which by the way currently CAN be GMO, another error in the article) and grass seed farmers will have to wait for a tool they really need.


I also found it odd only one side seemed to be interviewed for the article. Somethings I would like to add... I don't disagree that canola can't compete with the $/A of the specialty seeds, as things are. However, if all the grass seed growers that wanted to raise canola, instead planted various varieties of specialty seed, the specialty seed market would be flooded, driving the prices down greatly. Not that it will happen, but it is conceivable. Markets can only handle so much specialty seed, legume or vegetable acres. There aren't really any other beneficial rotational crops available to grass seed growers.

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