WASHINGTON, DC, US — Owen J. Newlin, PhD, a seed industry legend who spent 44 years helping to guide the development and production of new corn hybrids at Pioneer, died on July 12. He was 92.
The US Grains Council (USGC) said Newlin contributed to tremendous growth in the Council and the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) during his more than 50 years of involvement, playing an instrumental role in raising funds to support ballot initiatives to create state corn checkoff programs; initiating Pioneer’s overseas missions to educate future farmer leaders; and sustaining efforts to defend the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Market Development (FMD) program through more than two decades’ worth of farm bill negotiations.
“The leadership and forward thinking that was the basis of Owen’s participation in ASTA’s board and grain industry activities was truly monumental,” said Andy LaVigne, president and chief executive officer of the ASTA. “The leadership of ASTA cannot put into words the impact Owen had on the association and our position on the US and global levels. Our thoughts and prayers are with DJ and the Newlin family. Owen will truly be missed.”
Newlin joined Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. (now part of Corteva Agriscience) in 1955 as a research assistant, becoming production manager and then division president before taking over as senior vice president with responsibility for the finance, information management, human resources and seed production operations of Pioneer’s North American operations.
Newlin became the company’s official delegate to the USGC in the late 1960s and he remained a Council delegate until his death, serving on various committees throughout his tenure, including on the USGC board of directors from 1976-80 and as the Council’s chairman from 1978-79. In 2005, the USGC honored Newlin with a tribute award for a lifetime of distinguished achievement and service.
Newlin was also the longest-running ASTA past president who remained an active participant on the ASTA board of directors as a lifetime honorary member and chair of the Subcommittee for Strategic and Allied Partnerships. In 2016, the ASTA honored him with its inaugural Lifetime Industry Achievement Award — thereafter known as the Owen J. Newlin Lifetime Seed Industry Achievement Award — which recognizes exceptional professionals whose career contributions to the seed industry span more than 50 years.
Newlin’s influence runs deep as a driving force behind exposing more growers to the international marketplace and ensuring market development organizations, including the Council, had stability with which to do their work.
“His contributions to our industry cannot be overstated,” said Ryan LeGrand, president and CEO of the USGC. “He was a larger than life figure in his family, his community and especially in our industry and will be dearly missed.”