Bejo Seeds Inc. has a robust network of organic dealers. In 2019 there are 25 dealers purchasing organic seed. These dealers cover the US and Canada with a geography of 18 million square kilometers, 6 time zones, and a 50 degree swing in latitudes from 25 up to 75 degrees, with countless biomes in between. As one can imagine there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach possible when dealing with this magnitude of variation.
Before we go further there is another important aspect to discuss, and that is Legislation. In simplest terms, the US government does not mandate use of organic seed in organic systems. So many of those 25 dealers still do the bulk of business in conventional seed. Trying to increase organic seed usage, often with higher seed price, to a grower who is not required to take it and can instead fall back on conventional and open pollinated selections, is a challenge for both the Dealer and for Bejo alike. This means the organic assortment has to be good – outstanding even – in order to get conventional and transitioning growers to look past price and end up on the side of quality organic varieties from Bejo. But how does Bejo do that?
Bejo Seeds Organic Team
The Bejo Seeds Organic Team, BSOT for short, is a team of key sales people representing the diversity in geography, regional market sizes, and crop focus so necessary to fulfilling the needs of an imprecise organic market. Under the guidance of Mark Overduin and Jeff Trickett, the BSOT team was assembled 18 months ago with Jan van der Heide (Northeast), Brian Crummey (West Coast), Jim Christopherson (Pacific Northwest), Kristin Oomen (Midwest), Candice Anderson (Southeast) and Chelsey Lenczyk (Hobby/Small Farm Market).
First result BSOT
Happily, now 18 months from their first meeting in February 2018, and with several well-attended conference calls in the books, BSOT has found a pace and even created a few tangibles:
- the first round of class-specific organic marketing materials have been published,
- dealer updates have been created, including one on legislation;
- a quarterly news update about changes and trends in the organic trade is being distributed both internally and externally;
- Bejo is a participating member during the National Organic Standards Board discussions, helping to shape the legislation that the United States Department of Agriculture votes on and implements;
- And perhaps most importantly an organic crop plan is being developed; By working closely with the entire Bejo sales team and the nationwide Dealer network on variety needs and LTPs, BSOT is capturing the long-term needs of the Market while establishing a living documentation of the BSOT action plan, intended to be as dynamic as the organic trade we are serving.
A look into the future
The initial goal is modest – share regional organic updates on a reoccurring basis. This may seem simple but even with best intentions the seasons change, time in the field with both crops and customers is prioritized, sometimes meeting times are hard to come by. Looking towards the future the National Organic Standards Board has voted to change the National Organic Program requirements that farms must show continuous improvement of organic seed usage over time. As of April 2019 the proposal for Strengthening Organic Seed Guidance will go to the United States Department of Agriculture for final approval. With these legislative changes, coupled with Bejo’s commitment to organic integrity and production, and united by a committed team in BSOT, they are poised to embrace the diversity and enrich the livelihood of the North American organic seed market.
"Just like a healthy ecosystem, the strength in the organic sector always has been and always will be in its diversity."
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