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The PSA Annual Convention Recap

Those that joined us in Oceanside, CA participated and enjoyed the beautiful weather at the 97th Annual Pacific Seed Association Convention which was held at The Seabird Resort & Spa in Oceanside, CA.    On behalf of the PSA Board of Directors I would like to thank each and every one of you who contributed to the success of this convention.  The sponsors are the key to the success of the convention and we appreciate their support of the Association and its activities.  (A list of all the sponsors for each of the events are linked later in this article – please take a look at all of the links.)

President Nicole Hostert along with Chair Katy Soden led an outstanding program of events.  From the industry speakers, educational speakers, the walking food tour and golf to the wonderful nights of socializing to the final dinner and the amazing singing talents of our members for our PSA night of Karaoke.  Our appreciation to golf chair Mike Ingham for another successful day on the links.

The presentations at the sessions were informative and timely on issues facing the industry such as Succession Planning, the 10,000 Foot Level Overview and Education for Career Management Solutions, Transportation as well as Internal and External Communications.   We were fortunate to have a line-up of top-notch speakers including Joseph Strazzeri, Esq., from the Law Firm of Strazzeri Mancini LLP, Shawn Brook, President of Seed World, Andrew Hwang, Port of Oakland, Dan Johnson, Laufer Group International and Paul Minehart, North America Syngenta Crop Protection LLC.

The PSA Past Presidents enjoyed a delicious breakfast while they brainstormed about ideas to put into place to ensure the success and the future endeavors of PSA moving forward.
The PSA Annual Meeting of the Association provided an overlook of this year’s activities and a sound financial report of the state of the Association.    Reports were provided the Communications & PSA Cares chair, Mindy Duerst; Legislative, Technology & Research chair, Sam Cable, ASTA report by Crystal Fricker; Turf Seed by Bill Merrigan; Alfalfa report by Chuck Deatherage, Field Seed by McKayla Fricker, Membership by Kathy Hutton; Native by Mike Ingham and the scholarship award announcement by Nicole Hostert.  This year’s scholarship winners included: Lisa Branco, University of Phoenix, Audrey Kruse, University of Wisconsin, Bailey Scheuber, California Polytechnic State University, SLO, Luis Martinez, California Polytechnic State University, SLO and Jacob Meeuwsen, Washington State University.

The nominating committee presented their new slate of officers and directors and the membership voted to approve the following slate of officers and directors for 2023. We would like to thank the following individuals for their time and service to the Association and notice the newly elected officers and directors.  We look forward to the upcoming year in the life of the Association.


  • PRESIDENT - Grant Baglietto - Baglietto Seeds, Stockton, CA
  • 1ST VICE PRESIDENT – Dean Browning, Seeds, Inc., Tekoa, WA
  • 2ND VICE PRESIDENT - Karen Krych – Clearwater Seed, Spokane, WA
  • PAST PRESIDENT - Nicole Hostert - California Crop Improvement Assn, Davis, CA
  • McKayla Fricker – Pure Seed, Canby, OR
  • Rachel Hankins – Barenbrug USA, Tangent, OR
  • Freya Jensen – Verbruggen Palletizing Solutions, Pasco, WA

Continuing on for the 2nd year of term (Bill Merrigan, Michael Rascon and Annelisa Zander)

At the Annual PSA Banquet retiring President, Nicole Hostert was thanked and honored with a plaque.  Nicole Hostert also had the privilege of announcing the 2022 Person of the Year award.  This year’s honor was bestowed on Bill Merrigan, Blue Mt. Seeds for his dedication and support to the PSA. Bill went to school at the University of Idaho.  He started his career at Grassland West as an agronomist working with growers in the field.   After that he moved to the Willamette Valley, also as an agronomist, and then took the manager’s job at Blue Mt.  He has been at Blue Mountain for at least 20 years.  Bill has been involved with the production of seed for many grass species over the years. There isn’t a grass seed species grown in the Pacific Northwest which Bill hasn’t produced.  (wheatgrasses, bluegrasses, orchardgrasses, bromes, fescues, per ryegrasses, probably more).  Today at Blue Mt where they produce a high percentage of the proprietary bluegrasses in the US.  He has a vast knowledge of the seed industry worldwide.  Because of his agronomy knowledge/experience, his industry contacts and his large grower base, Bill plays a huge roll in bringing seed products to the end-user.  He is married to wife Stacey and has two grown children. He has been active in several Oregon seed associations and this is his second time serving on the PSA board.

I want to extend a heart-felt thank you to our sponsors for your commitment to making this event so successful.   It was the vision of the Planning Committee to inform, entertain, and provide a networking forum for our members in a pleasant, comfortable environment.   Your generous contribution helped make our vision a reality by helping to offset the cost of holding the Convention in a wonderful place like Oceanside, CA.  PSA sincerely thanks our sponsors for supporting our mission and making the Annual Convention possible!   Seabird or Mission Pacific are offering a 15% discount for anyone who wishes to come back (attached .pdf).  Additionally, The Mission Pacific Hotel and The Seabird Resort have been nominated in the “Best Hotels in California” category! The 2023 voting ballot is live, and any attendees are welcome to vote now that they’ve experienced the hotels. The World’s Best Awards ask readers to share insights based on their previous three years of travel, voting goes through February 27, 2023 and can be done here   PSA sent out a short survey to provide the board and staff with feedback, if you didn’t see the email the link is:

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Availability of Inflation Reduction Act Funding for Climate-Smart Agriculture Nationwide

NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 13, 2023 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making funding available for agricultural producers and forest landowners nationwide to participate in voluntary conservation programs and adopt climate-smart practices. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provided an additional $19.5 billion over five years for climate smart agriculture through several of the conservation programs that USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) implements. NRCS is making available $850 million in fiscal year 2023 for its oversubscribed conservation programs: the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) and Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). 

Read the full article HERE to learn how to apply, read about water supply investments, and more.

Vilsack Announces IRA Climate-Smart Funds

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday announced the availability of two types of funding for climate-smart agriculture provided by the Inflation Reduction Act, which provided an additional $19.5 billion over five years for climate smart agriculture through several of the conservation programs that USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) implements.

NRCS is making available $850 million in fiscal year 2023 for its conservation programs that have had more applicants than funding: the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) and Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

The IRA funding includes an additional $8.45 billion for EQIP, $4.95 billion for RCPP, $3.25 billion for CSP, and $1.4 billion for ACEP. The increased funding levels begin in fiscal year 2023 and build over four years. Additionally, the IRA provides $300 million to quantify carbon sequestration and greenhouse gases (GHG) through the collection and use of field-based data to assess conservation outcomes. Information gained through this effort will be used to improve practices and technical assistance to customers.

NRCS accepts producer applications for its conservation programs year-round, but producers interested in EQIP or CSP should apply by their state’s ranking dates to be considered for funding in the current cycle. Funding is provided through a competitive process and will include an opportunity to address the unmet demand from producers who have previously sought funding for climate-smart conservation activities.
Bipartisan Bill Would Overhaul Trucking Regulations

Dusty Johnson has joined a senior Democrat on the Ag Committee, California’s Jim Costa, to introduce a bill aimed at easing truck driver shortages and other trucking issues, reports Agri-Pulse.

They hope their Safer Highways and Increased Performance for Interstate Trucking (SHIP IT) Act will reduce trucking bottlenecks by allowing vehicle waivers during disease and supply chain emergencies, streamlining the CDL process and expanding trucker access to parking and rest facilities.
Vilsack Presses FMC for Changes to Ocean Carrier Proposal

After two years of agriculture exporters enduring “ocean carriers’ systematic neglect of exports in favor of higher value import cargo,” Feedstuffs reports that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is offering key changes to the Federal Maritime Commission’s (FMC) proposed rulemaking to define an unreasonable refusal to negotiate or deal with respect to vessel space accommodations.

While USDA believes the rulemaking “is one step toward righting an unfair situation,” Vilsack recently sent a letter to several FMC officials, offering the following key changes to improve the proposal: (1) broaden the definition of an unreasonable refusal to negotiate or deal; (2) significantly narrow the guidance on reasonable refusals; (3) and encourage specific actions by carriers to guard against unreasonable refusals.

According to Vilsack, agricultural shippers over the past two years have continually dealt with broken export contracts, canceled bookings, inadequate receiving windows, and shortages of empty containers and other equipment. These issues, he noted, reduced prices paid to producers, compromised bottom lines for ag companies, and damaged U.S. agriculture’s standing with global customers.

Beyond the issue at hand, Vilsack also expressed the need for FMC to promote competition in the industry and to consider the carrier consolidation and alliances that has occurred in recent years.

Currently, three global companies, made up entirely of foreign companies, control almost all of ocean freight shipping. They have formed global alliances that now control 80% of global container ship capacity and control 95% of the critical East-West trade lines.
GAO Recommends USDA Actions on Climate Change

Responding to a request from Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), the Government Accountability Office released a report recommending 13 measures the Agriculture Department could implement to enhance farmers’ climate resilience and limit federal fiscal exposure from climate change.

Specifically, the report recommended collecting data on practices that enhance climate resilience, requiring producer adoption of climate-resilient practices to claim crop insurance premium subsidies, and more.

Pingree noted that many of the GAO’s recommendations are laid out in her Agriculture Resilience Act, such as ensuring conservation programs address climate resilience, increasing support for USDA's Climate Hubs, and expanding the capacity of USDA’s conservation programs.

“As my colleagues on the Agriculture Committee and I work to craft a comprehensive farm bill, this report will be immensely helpful in creating fact- and science-based solutions to help our farmers respond to the impacts of climate change,” Pingree said.
EPA Proposes to ‘Modernize’ Pesticide Application Zones

The Hagstrom Report writes that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposed rule to modernize the pesticide Application Exclusion Zone (AEZ) requirements under the 2015 Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) in what the agency said was “reaffirming the agency’s commitment to protecting farmworkers, pesticide handlers, their families, and agricultural communities from pesticide exposure during National Pesticide Safety Education Month.”

The proposed rule is open for comment for 30 days.

Among the changes, the revised standard included a new provision requiring agricultural employers to keep workers and all other individuals out of an area called the AEZ during outdoor pesticide applications. The AEZ is the area surrounding an ongoing pesticide application that people must not enter to avoid exposure. An AEZ moves with the equipment during applications to protect farmworkers and bystanders that could be contacted by pesticides.

The agency is also proposing to reinstate several provisions from the 2015 WPS to strengthen protections for farmworkers and bystanders including: applying the AEZ beyond an establishment’s boundaries; and when individuals are within easements (such as easement for utility workers to access telephone lines); and establishing AEZ distances for ground-based spray applications of 25 feet for medium or larger sprays when sprayed from a height greater than 12 inches from the soil surface or planting medium; and 100 feet for fine sprays.
EPA Adjusts Dicamba Cutoff Dates in '23

On Feb. 16, EPA posted label amendments to its public docket that further restrict the use of over-the-top (OTT) dicamba herbicides in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and South Dakota according to DTN’s Progressive Farmer. For the 2023 season, the revised federal labels for XtendiMax, Engenia and Tavium will contain the following prohibitions:no spraying on dicamba-tolerant (DT) soybeans in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana after June 12 or V4 growth stage, whichever comes first; no spraying on DT cotton in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana after June 12 or first square, whichever comes first; and no spraying on DT crops after June 20 in South Dakota.

In Minnesota, the same use restrictions remain from 2022: no spraying on DT crops after June 12 south of Interstate 94; no spraying on DT crops after June 30 north of Interstate 94; and no spraying when the forecast high temperature exceeds 85 degrees Fahrenheit in Minnesota.

News of the label amendments was met with frustration.

"The timing of this couldn't be worse for soybean growers who will plant these varieties," said University of Illinois weed scientist Aaron Hager. "We're 45-50 days out from starting to plant soybeans. Most or all seed and herbicide decisions have been made. And now we have to contend with new cutoffs in the largest soybean producing states in the U.S.

"A June 12 cutoff is one thing, but if we continue to see the current trend of earlier soybean planting, when will we reach that V4 growth stage cutoff?" Hager asked. "If that stage comes well before June 12, there's a whole lot of season left, and waterhemp is just really gaining momentum at that time."
 EPA Workers Call Attention to ‘Staffing Crisis’

EPA employees are holding a rally today at the agency’s headquarters, completing a three-day blitz of Capitol Hill visits agitating for more funding to address what they call a “staffing crisis.”

Members of EPA’s largest union, AFGE Council 238, say that in the past two years, EPA has increased staffing by just 3%, even as its regulatory responsibilities have grown. “The agency is losing senior staff to retirement at a record clip, and 3,000 employees, or 21% of the agency’s workforce, are currently eligible for retirement,” the union said.

The union wants Congress to provide funding for more high-level positions as well as higher pay competitive with the private sector.
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