April 15, 2011
Welcome to the electronic newsletter of the American Seed Trade Association(ASTA) for members, allies and stakeholders. Please feel free to forward the Seed E-News to others you believe might wish to receive news about the seed industry.
Questions, comments and your industry news are
welcome — contact Julie Douglas at ASTA.
Past issues can be viewed here .
In This Issue
• ASTA News
• New Members
ASTA's Advocacy Matters III brings together voices of the seed industry
Members of the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) traveled from distances near and far to discuss the importance of the seed industry and issues affecting their business with their Congressional representatives April 6 in Washington, DC.
Advocacy Matters III focused on developing and maintaining relationships with their elected officials while addressing issues pertinent to the seed industry. The even was complemented by participants of the ASTA-USDA Conservation Seed Workshop, who also participated in the Capitol Hill visits.
From Washington and New Mexico to Minnesota and New York, 31 seed industry representatives discussed the importance of funding for the National Plant Germplasm System and university research, intellectual property rights, co-existence regulations and district specific benefits of the seed industry to 55 Congressional and Senate offices.
|ASTA Advocacy Matters III participants stormed Capitol Hill April 6, 2011.
Tracy Tally, representing the Texas-based Justin Seed Company, participated in Advocacy Matters III for the first time.
"The offices were all very receptive to our issues and conc" says the admittedly impressed Tally. "The staff and senator that I had the opportunity to meet with were more knowledgeable about ag issues than I had anticipated."
Tally explained that through Advocacy Matters III, he not only was helping to address issues important to the seed industry, but also learned about his congressman and district.
"I'm hoping that when there's an issue related to agriculture, they can come to us," Tally says. "We hope to be a resource to the office."
Advocacy Matters III participants also met with senior staff from the office of Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and the Environment; Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee Collin Peterson (D-Minn.); senior staff of House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.); and the staff director for Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee Doc Hastings (R-Wash.). The group also met with Tina May, senior professional staffer for the Senate Agriculture Committee, for a briefing.
Both Leslie Cahill, ASTA vice president of government affairs, and Pat Miller, ASTA director of state affairs, agreed that this was an outstanding fly-in.
"The experience and interaction with elected officials our members gain can really add value to the businesses they represent," Miller says. "You can't measure the rewards of participation by a single event, but rather the outcome of events that occur during a period of years. Successful grassroots programs take time and commitment."
After everything was said and done, Tally said that through ASTA and its relationships he felt like he had more connections he could depend on here in D.C. than he does in his own state and county.
ASTA submits comments supporting USDA cooperator program funding
The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) yesterday, April 14, 2011, submitted comments to the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Rural Development, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture encouraging continued funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) cooperator programs.
ASTA Chief Executive Officer Andy LaVigne said ASTA supports continued funding for USDA's Foreign Market Development (FMD) and Market Access (MAP) programs to increase U.S. agricultural exports and jobs, while helping address global issues regarding the movement of high quality seed.
"Without cooperator program funding, the seed industry's efforts to expand U.S. seed exports and business development would be markedly reduced," said ASTA Chairman John Nelsen, president and chief executive officer of RiceTec. "The seed industry is unique in that it is highly regulated worldwide and utilization of the MAP and FMD programs allows us to address trade barriers to the international movement of seed."
ASTA has used cooperator funds to host:
- International meetings promoting trade of seed and seed technology worldwide and intellectual property rights enhancements
- Trade missions to increase understanding of and overcome unfair trade practices, and address phytosanitary issues affecting U.S. seed exports
- Exploratory trade missions to collect market information and foster relationships for U.S. seed companies
- Technical assistance and capacity building programs encouraging seed regulatory and policy reform in less developed or emerging seed markets worldwide.
The funds are also used to promote a viable framework and system for trade for all seed including organic, conventional and biotechnology products, and international agricultural and seed trade policy specifically focused on intellectual property rights protection and phytosanitary regulations.
"ASTA understands the budget constraints and the need to make cuts; however, the cooperator programs work to expand market opportunities and create demand for U.S. agricultural products, including high quality American seed," LaVigne said.
The comments submitted are available online at http://www.amseed.org/pdfs/ASTA_RuralDev-Research-BioTech-ForeignAg.pdf.
Please welcome new ASTA members!
PanDia Seeds, Inc. scours the globe, looking for and trialing the highest quality and most promising varieties, and offering the best of those to its customers. PanDia Seeds offers a full line of open pollinated products, as well as many exclusive and nonexclusive hybrid varieties. Franco Campana is the company representative.
Renee's Garden Seeds offers only the varieties that are very special for home gardeners, based on great flavor, easy culture and exceptional garden performance. This seed line is Renee's personal selection of new, exciting and unusual seed choices of time-tested heirlooms, the best international hybrids and fine open-pollinated varieties. Renee harvests and uses the vegetables and herbs in her kitchen to choose the most delicious, and cut the flowers for bouquets to select the finest colors, forms and fragrances. Renee Shepherd is the company representative.
Targeted Growth, Inc. is a crop biotechnology company focused on developing products with enhanced yield and improved quality for the agriculture and energy industries. Margaret McCormick is the company representative.
Seed for land reclamation, rehabilitation projects focus of ASTA-NRCS workshop
More than 35 seedsmen and U.S. Department of Agriculture program specialists met April 5 to discuss and better understand the agency's land rehabilitation and reclamation efforts and guidelines at the ninth Annual Conservation Seed Workshop in Washington, D.C.
The workshop, sponsored by the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) and the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Plant Materials Program, brought together specialists from the Bureau of Land Management, NRCS, Fish & Wildlife Service, Agricultural Research Service, Farm Service Agency, Agricultural Marketing Service and the National Park Service.
"This helps us understand changes and potential changes to government programs impacting our business," says Garth Kaste of the Minnesota based Kaste Seed, Inc. "The federal government is the largest purchaser of native seed and we need to stay informed about the genetic guidelines driving the use of native seeds."
Each of these agencies or departments purchases seed for different initiatives or projects from the Open Pollinator project to the Longleaf Pine Habitat and from the Healthy Landscapes initiative to the Sage grass initiative. One of the challenges the seed industry faces in being able to provide seed for these projects is the guidelines and specifications vary from state to state for they types of seed they are permitted to purchase.
"These guidelines set by the agencies drive the kinds of seed we attempt to go out and produce," Kaste explains.
One of the topics raising many questions is the word "local" and how it is defined for plant selection and multiplication at the federal, state and local levels.
|Tom Jones, USDA-ARS research geneticist presents research supporting that local is not always best.
"The assumption that 'local is best' is often considered sacrosanct," says Tom Jones, a research geneticist in USDA's Agricultural Research Service Forage & Range Research Lab, who presented at the conservation workshop.
Jones' research contradicts this assumption and shows that local may not always be best.
In short, his research on ecosystems shows that local may not be best when strong environmental gradients are not present and novel ecosystems have replaced pristine ecosystems.
"This is ground-breaking research that Tom is talking about and it's important to the seed industry," Kaste says.
Thousands of acres in the United States are in need of land rehabilitation and reclamation. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, more than 300,000 acres in United States were restored in fiscal year 2010 alone. Rehabilitating lands to their native state requires a long term strategy and can take many, many years.
"This workshop provides us an opportunity to listen and learn about conservation issues, industry concerns and challenges affecting agriculture," says Leslie Cahill, ASTA vice president of government affairs and staff liaison to Environmental and Conservation Seed Committee. "Opportunities like this are critical as policymakers and regulators consider and implement laws that affect the seed industry's ability to compete and prosper. This two-way communication and collaboration benefits everyone involved."
ASTA member 2011-2012 Dues Reclassification Form due April 29
ASTA member company representatives received their dues reclassification form earlier this month in the mail. Please complete and return the form to ASTA's office prior to April 29.
It is imperative that the data submitted be accurate, as it is used for planning purposes for the upcoming year. Please complete the 2011-12 ASTA Dues Classification Form., sign it along with the chief financial officer or an authorized representative, and return it to the ASTA office at 225 Reinekers Lane, Ste. 650, Alexandria, VA 22314. This information is kept confidential.
For questions and additional information, please contact Cindy Hinton, ASTA director of membership services, at 703-837-8140 or email@example.com.
ASTA's 128th Annual Convention to address several issues
The American Seed Trade Association's (ASTA) 128th Annual Convention kicks off in 60 days at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa in Huntington Beach, Calif., and will drive policy shaping the seed industry here in the U.S. and around the globe.
All of ASTA's committee meetings are open, unless designated differently. A few of the committees meeting and issues to be discussed June 20 include the Phytosanitary Committee from 12:30 - 3:30 p.m., Intellectual Property Rights Committee from 3:30 - 5 p.m., and the Organic Committee from 3:30 - 5:30 p.m. The Biotechnology Committee will also meet June 21 from 1:30 - 2:30 p.m.
Focusing on phytosanitary issues impacting the international movement of seeds, the Phytosanitary Committee meeting will include updates and discussion about the implementation of the bilateral agreement on seed re-export with the European Union, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) policy on issuing re-export certificates for non-EU countries, efforts to influence the development of new seed import requirements for Brazil, the proposed North American Plant Protection Organization (NAPPO) seed standard, and strategy for developing the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) seed standard.
The Intellectual Property Rights Committee will address a number of important policy issues at this meeting. The agenda includes a report from the ASTA working group on patent expiration and a discussion on the status of the International Seed Federation's revisions to its views on intellectual property. The latest information from the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) and the U.S. Plant Variety Protection Office will also be presented.
The Organic Committee will feature updates on trade issues, seed availability and ASTA advocacy for key industry initiatives.
The Biotechnology Committee will address the latest biotechnology regulatory and policies issues, including recent initiatives on seed adventitious presence/low level presence, a new government/industry forum sponsored by the Seed Association of the Americas, and the International Seed Federation's Adventitious Presence Working Group. Any new actions on the alfalfa and sugar beet lawsuits also will be discussed.
For more information about the conference and to get registered, visit http://www.amseed.org/mtg_2011ac_index.asp.
ASTA prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and where applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or part of an individual's income is derived from any public assistance program. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact ASTA at (703) 837-8140.