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WSU to hire marketer for its cereal varieties

Matthew Weaver

Capital Press

Washington State University is creating a new position to promote its cereal varieties to growers and the industry. The best products need active promotions and marketing to survive, says WSU Extension Director Rich Koenig.

Washington State University plans to hire a marketer for its cereal varieties to work with seed dealers and others in the industry.

The new job is being developed by Jim Moyer, associate dean of research and director of the university’s Agricultural Research Center, and Rich Koenig, associate dean and director of WSU Extension.

WSU doesn’t currently have anyone to market and promote its cereal varieties at seed industry events or to seed dealers and growers, Koenig said.

The marketer will represent WSU’s varieties at field days or with dealers, and would be similar to positions at private breeding companies, Moyer said.

This kind of position is relatively new, Koenig said. Other universities have primarily chosen to license their varieties directly to companies or they do not actively market.

Koenig said the position’s role is distinctly different from the university’s wheat breeders or variety testing program, which evaluates all varieties during field trials in multiple locations, without endorsing any single variety or brand. The breeders develop lines in response to priorities set by growers and the Washington Grain Commission, including niche varieties or special trait requirements.

“We want to maintain the objectivity of our breeders and our variety-testing program,” Moyer said. “Those will be separate and continue to be independent and objective operations.”

Breeders will continue to make contact with growers at field days and during grower meetings, Koenig said.

The marketer’s impact to farmers will likely be indirect, Moyer said.

“There will be someone who’s out there explaining the benefits and niches of our different varieties,” he said. “The first group that’s going to see a difference would be the seed dealers.”

The new position will market the varieties within and perhaps outside Washington, Koenig added.

“We all know that the best products have no future without an active promotions/marketing campaign,” he said.

Koenig said a physical presence — an agent who represents and advocates for the varieties — is required.

“We believe this is critical given the number of private seed companies and competitive environment for seed marketing that now exists in the Pacific Northwest,” he said.

Moyer hopes to have someone in the position by fall. He and Koenig share responsibilities until someone is hired.



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