Seed World

Texas Plant Breeding Leader Dies

Texas A&M AgriLife Research lost a tremendous asset July 27 when Steve Brown, Texas Foundation Seed Service program director in Vernon, was killed in a car accident.
“There are no words to express the sorrow I feel in the sudden tragic death of my friend and colleague Steve Brown,” said Dr. Bill McCutchen, executive associate director of AgriLife Research in College Station. “Steve was the consummate professional and a leader of innovative strategies that helped lead to the rejuvenation of the small grains and cropping systems programs across the agency.
“He had a way of working with people to develop personal relationships. His impacts on Texas A&M are reverberating across the nation and now the world. He worked tirelessly with faculty, unit heads, stakeholders and industry leaders to advance improved plant varieties, and he was loved and respected by everyone he met and touched.”
Brown became program director of Texas Foundation Seed Service in the fall of 2001 after spending 27 years in private sector agribusiness. During his time in the private sector, he managed a diversified company involved with seed production and distribution, commercial grain operations and livestock feed manufacturing.
At Texas Foundation Seed Service, he worked closely with the various plant breeding programs within Texas A&M AgriLife Research and private sector companies interested in licensing AgriLife Research plant material improvements.
He also worked with the Texas A&M University System’s Office of Technology Commercialization and Texas A&M AgriLife’s Corporate Relations Office to help develop distribution plans to make AgriLife’s plant developments available to producers in Texas and beyond.
“Under Steve’s service as director of the Texas Foundation Seed Service, the royalties from commercial sales of small grains varieties increased 15-fold from when he took over,” said Dr. John Sweeten, AgriLife Research resident director at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Centers in Amarillo and Vernon.
Additionally, Brown was instrumental in the collection of royalties from other plant varieties, including various grasses, sorghums, peanuts, forages and corn. These were not collected prior to his involvement, and by 2015 they amounted to more than $1.5 million.
Brown oversaw the foundation seed increase of various Texas A&M AgriLife-developed crops, including wheat, oats, triticale, canola, cool-season grasses, peanuts and hibiscus flowers.