|DATE:||June 23, 2008|
|CONTACT: ||Gretchen Flanley|
| ||(703) 837-8140|
Seed Industry Announces New Foundation to Support Education
Alexandria, VA (June 23, 2008) - The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) announced today the formation of the First the Seed Foundation, officially launched at the 125th Annual Convention of the association. The seed industry established the foundation to provide education and outreach about today's vibrant seed industry and its promise for the future. The food, fiber, feed and fuel demands of an ever increasing population make it more important than ever to educate the general public about the story of agriculture and the role of seed, as well as attract the best and brightest minds to agricultural fields of study. Bud Hughes of Verdant Partners has been named president of the Board for the foundation.
The mission of the First the Seed Foundation is to conduct education, outreach and communication on the value of crops and food produced from seed," said President and CEO Andy LaVigne. "We, as the seed industry, have a great story to tell about our contributions to American agriculture, and ultimately, to the lives of people around the world. The foundation will provide a platform to educate today's world and tomorrow's work force about the importance of the seed industry."
Today's consumer demands healthy food for their bodies, improved feed for livestock, better fiber for the clothes they wear and cleaner fuel for the vehicles they drive. Recent advancements in seed innovation using plant technologies have helped to meet the growing market demand for agricultural products. The progress made by the seed industry in the last 20 years is greater than ever before; however, very few people are aware of the contributions of the industry to their everyday lives.
Fewer than 2 million Americans are actively engaged in farming, yet agriculture generates some 22 million jobs in the United States, mostly located off-farm. The efficiency of today's U.S. farmers allows them to produce 16 percent of the world's food supply, freeing others to pursue other occupations and career paths. Many are not aware of the science and technology that drives agriculture, solves its many challenges and offers many opportunities.
The highest priority of the First the Seed Foundation is the education of today's youth. Efforts of the foundation will begin with outreach about seed to grade schools through multimedia and web-based curriculum to be used in classrooms, development of an introductory video on the seed industry's role in American agriculture, the distribution of seed and informational kits to schools and youth organizations and the promotion of the value of quality seed and the impacts of the seed industry on every person's life who eats food or uses agricultural products. Contributions can be made to the First the Seed Foundation by contacting the ASTA office.
Founded in 1883, the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA), located in Alexandria, Va., is one of the oldest trade organizations in the United States. Its membership consists of about 750 companies involved in seed production and distribution, plant breeding, and related industries in North America. As an authority on plant germplasm, ASTA advocates science and policy issues of industry importance. Its mission is to enhance the development and free movement of quality seed worldwide.