Remembering Seed Industry Legend Owen Newlin

Cindy Zimmerman

Dr. Newlin with ASTA CEO Andy LaVigne in 2018

The agriculture industry is mourning the passing of Dr. Owen Newlin, who spent 44 years helping to guide the development and production of new corn hybrids at Pioneer. Newlin, who was actively involved in both the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) over the years, was 92.

Dr. Newlin contributed to tremendous growth in the Council and 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 U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Market Development (USDA’s 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, ASTA President & CEO. “The leadership of ASTA cannot put into words the impact Owen had on the association and our position on the U.S. and global levels. Our thoughts and prayers are with D.J. 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 serving as senior vice president with responsibility for the finance, information management, human resources and seed production operations of Pioneer’s North American operations.

Dr. Newlin served as president of ASTA in 1985-86 and was the longest-running 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, ASTA honored Newlin with the inaugural Lifetime Industry Achievement Award, now named after him, which recognizes professionals whose career contributions to the seed industry span more than 50 years.

He remained a delegate on the Grains Council right up until his death, serving on various committees throughout his tenure including on the USGC Board of Directors from 1976-1980 and as the Council’s chairman from 1978-1979. In 2005, USGC honored Newlin with a special tribute award for a lifetime of distinguished achievement and service.

Here is an interview with Dr. Newlin from 2016 where he talks about some of the industry changes he saw in his lifetime: Interview with ASTA award winner Dr. Owen Newlin 4:25

ASTA, Audio, Corn, Seed, USGC