Marty Myers, general manager of Threemile Canyon Farms and a member of the Oregon Board of Agriculture, has died. He was 68.
A spokeswoman for R.D. Offutt Co., which owns Threemile Canyon Farms, said Myers died Dec. 1 at his home of natural causes.
In a company statement, Offutt CEO Tim Curoe said Myers was the "visionary force" behind Threemile Canyon Farms, which includes Oregon's largest dairy operation.
"(Myers) had a vision for the farm to be a sustainable operation, which was well ahead of the times," Curoe said. "He brought that idea into reality by creating a 'closed loop' system where nothing would be wasted, and that remains the foundation for the farm's remarkable and continued success."
Myers began working with R.D. Offutt Co., based in Fargo, N.D., in 1994 as a business development manager focused on agribusiness in the Western U.S. The company acquired Threemile Canyon Farms in 1998, and placed Myers in charge as general manager.
Threemile Canyon Farms covers approximately 145 square miles west of Boardman, Ore., and grows 39,500 acres of irrigated crops including potatoes, onions, corn and sweet peas.
The farm also runs four dairies, with 33,000 milking cows and nearly 70,000 total cattle. The milk is sold to the Tillamook County Creamery Association, which operates a large cheese-making plant 20 miles away at the Port of Morrow.
Earlier this year, Threemile Canyon Farms was recognized for Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability at the 2020 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards for its closed-loop system, pioneered by Myers, to minimize and recycle dairy waste.
The system begins with the cows themselves. Manure is stored and later reused as a source of nitrogen-rich fertilizer to grow crops on the surrounding farmland — including pasture, alfalfa and animal feed that goes right back to the cows.
In 2012, Threemile Canyon Farms built an anaerobic digester to process additional dairy manure, capturing enough methane gas to generate up to 4.8 megawatts of electricity. Solid waste left over from the digestion process is sterilized and recycled as animal bedding for the cows in the free-stall barns.
The digester underwent a $30 million expansion in 2019, adding capacity and installing new equipment to convert methane into renewable natural gas, or RNG, a cleaner-burning fuel that reduces harmful emissions from vehicles by 80% or more compared to diesel.
"Marty will be incredibly difficult to replace, but Threemile Canyon Farms is fortunate to have a highly skilled, long-time leadership team who are dedicated to ensuring the continuity of business at the farm," Curoe said. "This team will continue to lead daily farm operations until a formal interim plan is announced."
An Oregon native, Myers was born and raised in McMinnville. He earned a bachelor's degree in business from Oregon State University, before beginning his career as a certified public accountant in Portland.
Along with his position at Threemile Canyon Farms, Myers had served on the Oregon Board of Agriculture since 2015. His second term was to expire in 2023. Members are appointed by the governor and advise the state Department of Agriculture on policy issues.
Myers was also serving a term as board chairman of Potatoes USA, the marketing organization for 2,500 commercial U.S. potato growers. He had previously served on the Oregon Potato Commission, Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council, Oregon Business Association, The Freshwater Trust and Potato Growers of Washington.
"There just aren't enough kind words to use when describing Marty," Curoe said. "He was thoughtful, quick to laugh, and someone who always focused on what was possible. But most of all, I will remember him as a friend and a true partner. He will be dearly missed but his vision will most certainly live on."
In lieu of flowers, Myers' family is encouraging donations to one of two charities in his honor: Blanchet House or the Oregon Food Bank.