Retirement leads seed dealer to new business venture Dana Herron WAWG Past President 1986-87

By Kevin Gaffney
For Wheat Life


Most Washington Association of Wheat Growers’ (WAWG) past presidents from the 1980s are now at least semiretired. Not Dana Herron, who served from 1986-87.

A native of Connell, Wash., Herron grew up in a farm family founded by his grandfather in 1896 near Kahlotus. Herron’s brother, Chris, still farms that homestead land as well as their farm near Connell. Born in 1950, Herron attended schools in Connell before matriculating to Washington State University (WSU) in 1969. 

 “My father encouraged me not to choose farming as a career due to my allergies,” said Herron. “He thought I should become a doctor or a lawyer to establish a successful career. For that and other reasons, I pursued a degree in political science at WSU.

“Unfortunately, just as I was finishing up my studies at college, my father passed away at the age of 52. This derailed my plans to attend law school. I stayed at WSU to earn an additional degree in ag economics. I paid my way through school working for Palouse Producers, an agriculture fertilizer and crop protection company.

“It is my belief that God guides our lives in ways that we are often unaware of until we look back at a later time. My father’s passing guided me back to the farm, and my work at Palouse Producers allowed me to acquire a lot of knowledge about farming. It also allowed me to graduate from college debt-free.”

Herron worked for the agricultural company full time for two years before coming home to take over the family farm in the spring of 1977. The first few years were not easy ones, as the price of wheat was poor, and in 1979 and again in 1981, there was considerable winterkill in southeast Washington.

“I remember a morning in February 1979 when it was 20 degrees below zero, and the wind was blowing 30 miles per hour,” noted Herron. “I knew right then that we would need a whole lot of spring wheat seed to replant.”

After finding out the local cooperative had no spring seed available, Herron began diligent efforts to acquire seed. After extensive research, he was able to obtain and sell 33 train cars of spring wheat seed that year. Faced with a similar winterkill situation in 1981, Herron secured 38 semitruck loads of spring seed for his farm and for retail and wholesale sales. This was the motivation for the founding of Kaysons Seed. Herron founded it with his mother, Kay Herron, in 1982. Over the years, sales continued to grow, and the seed business was soon bringing in $2 million of annual revenue while the farm was bringing in just several hundred thousand. 

“At the same time, my brother Chris was interested in farming, so it was the perfect time to hand the farm operation over to him. This also allowed our mother to retire. Chris has done an excellent job operating the farm ever since.”

It was around this time that Herron became more involved with the Franklin County Wheat Growers Association, chairing several committees. His parents had stressed the importance of advocating for the wheat industry. Herron eventually moved on to the state level with WAWG. He was approached by past president Stephen Naught to consider going through the WAWG leadership chairs. Herron took over as president for the 1986-87 term. The biggest issue at that time was the negotiations over the 1985 Farm Bill.

 “I believe I traveled to Washington, D.C., 12 times during my year as president,” recalled Herron. “Fortunately, we still had house speaker Tom Foley in office at that time. I remember the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) being an important issue in our getting the farm bill passed through an increasingly urban Congress. We were working closely with Gene Moos, Rep. Foley’s aide. He was very helpful for the ag industry. It was an eye-opening education for me about how the legislative system works in our nation’s capital. 

“My dad said something many years ago that I never forgot — ‘Walk fast, talk loud and carry your files with you.’ That advice served me well, especially in Washington, D.C.  

 “There have been criticisms of the farm bill over the years that it is simply an income transfer device. I would argue that you can call it whatever you want: revenue protection, a soil conservation bill, a crop insurance program, that’s fine. But the bottom line is that the American people enjoy the highest quality and lowest food prices in the entire world.”

Herron is a strong supporter of WAWG and its mission. He would like to see the membership built back up. He believes that the annual dues members pay should be increased to reflect the excellent return growers get from WAWG lobbying at the state and national levels. He thinks more personal contact by member growers selling the value of the organization’s work to nonmember farmers could accomplish that. 

As the volume of Kaysons Seed business grew, Connell Grain Growers (CGG) made Herron an offer he couldn’t refuse. He sold the business to them and took over as their seed sales manager. Herron stayed with CGG for 11 years, expanding their seed sales into 17 states and four foreign countries. Eventually, CGG became a part of Cenex Harvest States. After the merger, disputes over managerial policies convinced Herron that he would be better off financially operating his own company again. 

Herron and his partner, Craig Teel, established Tri-State Seed with the assistance of Dave Gordon, then manager of Northwest Grain Growers in Walla Walla, and financing from CoBank, a branch of the Farm Credit System.

“Our new business started well. We only lost money once, in our second year of existence,” said Herron. “Since I had to personally cover part of that loss, I made sure that never happened again. Dave Gordon was an amazing mentor for our company getting properly established. Central Washington Grain Growers and Tidewater Barge were also contributors to the successful implementation of our business plan.”

Herron and Teel continued to expand the business over the years, selling mostly wheat, barley, alfalfa, and Conservation Reserve Program seed products to retail and wholesale clients. They eventually added liquid fertilizer and crop protection products to their inventory.

 “Our most important mission was to always provide superior customer service for our clients,” emphasized Herron. “We established strong, personal relationships with our clients, and I think that was a large part of our success over the years. I always have tried to make growers think outside their normal parameters, to get them to question how they operate their farms and perhaps find more efficient ways to do things.”

Herron retired from Tri-State Seed in 2020. Before leaving, Herron negotiated an agreement that allowed him to keep his fertilizer and crop protection clients, while not competing with Tri-State’s seed customers. Soon after, his current company, Seed Logic LLC, was launched. When he started out, he expected he would have a couple dozen customers. Seed Logic LLC now has over 100 clients. His office and warehouse facility are located on the family farm. Asked about the biggest changes over his years in the seed business, Herron points to consolidations and mergers of the small companies and to the domination of private sector seed companies in small grains variety breeding. 

“The private companies can research, develop, and have a new variety planted in farmers’ fields at least twice as fast as the university systems,” said Herron. “We have excellent facilities and grain breeders at WSU, but it simply takes longer in that system to bring new varieties to the farmer.”

Herron has an affable and upbeat attitude for a man confined to a wheelchair. Two years ago, Herron was injured in an ATV accident and was partially paralyzed. He has not let this slow him down.

Herron’s partner through all of these years has been his wife, Valerie. They met at WSU, another life event that Herron believes was guided by a higher power.

“Distinguished WSU professor emeritus Ken Casavant actually introduced us,” said Herron. “We were married in 1975. She has provided me with strength and support. I could not have had the successes in my life or my career without her by my side.”

Herron is actively involved with the Connell Food Bank. Just a few years ago, they were only serving 30-40 families. Now they are serving around 1,000 people, distributing $21,000 worth of food on a monthly basis. 

“We serve people who are on limited incomes, those under the poverty level, and with the recent increases in food prices on so many items, there is more need than ever before. We also have folks who deliver groceries to homebound folks or those unable to drive and come to the food bank.” 

The Herrons have two daughters, Karma and Keva. Both are married, and they have brought three grandchildren into the family. Seed Logic LLC can be contacted at or (509) 546-1300.