A presentation and grant request from the Eugene-based company N.W. Seed Crushers Inc. was received during a Friday, Dec. 12 administrative meeting at the courthouse in Grants Pass by the Josephine County Board of Commissioners.
Company owner Chuck Bergfeld and co-founder Tim Parker’s focus was on the production of biofuel through growing and processing canola, a crop which also can be used as seed meal source.
Bergfeld told the board that a moratorium is in place against canola growing in Willamette Valley, due to fear of it cross-pollinating with grass seed and other crops. That moratorium does not apply south of Lane County, Bergfeld said.
Other advantages, Bergfeld said, are that Josephine County production of the crop could bolster the agricultural industry, increase the value of farmland, and aid in the battle against noxious weeds. It also would help improve county diversity from a timber-dependent economy, he said.
Parker said that by growing canola, farmers can take advantage of tax credits and renewable energy mandates in order to guarantee a market share. The canola crop has been successfully grown in a variety of areas and climates, Bergfeld and Parker said. Water canola has a high yield, even on marginal, non-irrigated soil.
N.W. Seed Crushers supplies equipment to growers, along with personnel, to plant, harvest and transport the seed to market. It also would process the seeds.
But to bring these opportunities to Josephine County, Parker and Bergfeld requested an $85,000 economic development grant from the board. They said that doing so would create local jobs almost immediately.
The board will consider the grant request in January.