States decide to pursue bean research program

Pinto beans are processed at Treasure Valley Seed Co. in Homedale, Idaho, earlier this year. Bean industry leaders from four states have agreed to move forward with a regional bean research program.

DENVER — The idea of creating a regional bean research program is closer to becoming a reality.

A total of 26 people involved in the dry bean industry from four states attended a six-hour meeting in Denver. Dec. 18 where the idea was discussed.

“I believe it can happen,” said Idaho farmer Mike Goodson, one of seven Idahoans who attended the meeting. “All the parties involved were very enthusiastic about getting something going.”

Goodson said much of the talk during the meeting centered around working together to maximize the resources the industry has to dedicate toward bean research.

“We’re trying to prevent duplication of research so we can spend our money better and get better research out of it,” he said.

Idaho Bean Commission member Don Tolmie said the vote was unanimous to move forward with a regional bean program.

“There were differences of opinion on exactly how to structure it, but I think it will move forward at lightning speed,” he said.

Tolmie, production manager of Treasure Valley Seed Co., said everyone at the meeting understands that state and federal funding for dry bean research is rapidly drying up.

“If the industry wants research done at the collegiate level, it is going to have to step up to the plate, pool the resources it can pool together and make it happen,” he said.

IBC member Gina Lohnes, who works for Trinidad Benham Corp., a bean dealer with plants in Idaho, Nebraska and Colorado, said a regional bean program could benefit the industry.

“It would be nice if we could all come together, pool our resources and work in a positive direction for the benefit of the industry,” said Lohnes, who attended the meeting.

The meeting included members of the bean commissions, land-grant universities and processing industries from Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska.

Even a few people who weren’t invited showed up, said Lacey Menasco, administrator of the IBC, which organized the meeting.

She said a common theme of the meeting was that each state on its own has limited resources “and there is more research that needs to be done than each state can do on its own. A lot of people in the meeting said, we’re probably 10 years late in making this happen.”

Menasco said no specific direction for how a regional program will look was established but a 12-member steering committee was formed that includes a grower, dealer and university official from each state.

The committee will develop an initial plan and send a letter to the head of each state’s land-grant university notifying them of the industry’s intent to move forward with the plan.

The industry will meet again in March.

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