Don Potts, WSDA grain inspection manager, dies of cancer

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Don Potts, manager of the state grain inspection program in Eastern Washington, died May 6 of cancer.

Potts died after “a courageous battle with cancer,” according to a Washington State Department of Agriculture news release. His age was not given.

WSDA director Derek Sandison and deputy director Kirk Robinson said Potts “touched many lives, represented WSDA with the highest degree of professionalism and served our industry partners in ways too numerous to count.”

Potts also managed WSDA’s grain warehouse audit program and worked with foreign trade groups, the Washington Grain Commission and local educational outreach programs.

Potts’ “superb grading skills” made him a valuable resource to other inspectors, Sandison and Robinson said in the notice.

The industry remembers him as a gentleman and “invaluable” resource for farmers.

“He will be sorely, sorely missed,” said Glen Squires, CEO of the Washington Grain Commission. “He was a tremendous ally and asset to the wheat industry.”

Squires appreciated Potts’ outreach to farmers.

“He was always working for the benefit of the grower,” Squires said. “He was very patient, very methodical in all his presentations.”

Potts was a great resource for the wheat industry during the falling number test problems that surfaced last year, Squires said. He would also explain the grain inspection system to visiting trade teams.

“His door was always open to meet and help the industry move forward,” Squires said.

Potts was also the WSDA’s representative on the Washington Pulse Crops Commission for 10 to 15 years, said Todd Scholz, vice president of research and member services for the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council.

“Grades are a pretty important part of selling peas and lentils … so if the industry had a grading problem, he was our guy we went to,” Scholz said. “(He) was a great source of technical information and then just a great supporter of the industry.”

Scholz then added: “He was just a really fine gentleman. The industry is really sad today.”