New CEO to lead wheat groups
Rowe emphasizes decades of natural resources experience
By MATTHEW WEAVER
SPOKANE, Wash. -- Blake Rowe, new CEO of the Oregon Wheat Growers League and the Oregon Wheat Commission, began work June 1, representing the organizations at an industry meeting in Spokane.
Rowe told the Capital Press his background in natural resource issues will help him serve the wheat industry.
"Those are all issues the wheat folks deal with," Rowe said, noting he enjoys working with landowners and private businesses. "(The position) touches on things I've done through my whole career."
Rowe will be the primary spokesman for the state's wheat industry, managing the commission office in Portland and the league office in Pendleton. He will serve the league board of directors and the commission simultaneously. He replaces Tammy Dennee at the league and Tana Simpson at the commission.
Rowe has more than 30 years of experience in the Pacific Northwest timber industry.
Craig Reeder, president of the league, pointed to Rowe's "extensive" background with "large and dynamic" organizations.
"He is a quick study, a very sharp and charismatic individual," Reeder said of Rowe.
The league and commission have scheduled grower discussions and workshops in June to give Rowe a chance to meet with wheat producers.
"He's going to be out and about," Reeder said. "It will be really important for people to get in front of him with their issues and get to know him."
The first priority will be bringing Rowe up to speed on wheat industry issues and easing any concerns over the new shared administrative position, Reeder said.
Rowe will then talk with the two organizations and make a list of priorities, Reeder said.
Tom McCoy, Sherman County representative to the commission, expects Rowe's initial work will primarily be with the league during the farm bill and legislative sessions.
McCoy said the commission's priorities include dealing with budget cuts and research funding at Oregon State University's College of Agricultural Sciences and export issues.
As he gets settled, Rowe will have the benefit of Simpson's past 10 years as commission administrator, McCoy said. Simpson will now be associate administrator.
The Oregon Wheat Commission, a state agency, is a producer-funded and -governed checkoff program. The Oregon Wheat Growers League is a not-for-profit trade organization.
Family: He and his wife, Lori, have two grown children, Melissa and Ryan.
Experience: President of Longview Timber, 3 1/2 years; senior vice president and manager of Oregon timberlands at Longview Fiber a total of 23 years. Past chairman, Oregon Forest Industries Council.
Education: Master's degree, forest policy and economics, University of Minnesota; bachelor's degree, forest management and wildlife science, Oregon State University.