ASTA Convention in Chicago
Chicago was chosen as the meeting place for the 1940 convention of the American Seed Trade Association. The dates set are June 24, 25, 26 and 27, and the popular Palmer House will be the headquarters. This was decided by the Executive Committee of the association at its winter meeting held at the Palmer House on January 14. The central location of Chicago was the factor which determined the selection, due to the fact that the association is desirous of drawing as large an attendance as possible to the June meeting because the trade has so many difficult and unusual problems to cope with this year, which will be brought up for discussion and solution.
Chicago’s historic Palmer House was home to the 1940 ASTA Annual Convention. The hotel is now owned by the Hilton chain and operates under the name Palmer House – A Hilton Hotel.
At the time the convention is held next June, the new Federal Seed Act will have been in operation long enough for the field seed dealers to know how this law is operating and how it is being enforced. Due to the fact that the new Act, as it relates to vegetable seeds, will not become effective until August 9, 1940, it is expected that considerable discussion will be held regarding the rules and regulations governing the enforcement of the law in that connection. There are, of course, a number of other matters of vital importance to seedsmen, which will be brought before the meeting, so there is very good reason why seedsmen should start now to make definite plans to attend the Chicago convention.
James A. Burdett, director of the National Garden Bureau, says there will be ample space available for trade exhibits this year.
ASTA Conditioning the Trade for War
Conditioning the trade for war and all of the ramifications of wartime regulations and duties seemed to be the subject of the annual meeting of the Farm Seed Division of the American Seed Trade Association at the Palmer House on January 11.
“The seed industry, as well as all business in general, has experienced many divergent problems during the past several years,” said ASTA Farm Seed Division Chairman Stanley Folsom. “On the whole, we have received gratifying considerations from the Department of Agriculture and are appreciative of the understanding and cooperation shown by them. The American people have been obligated for their protection to assume a heavy burden; the burden of raising and maintaining the best-equipped and best-fed army the world has ever known, as well as aiding in the feeding of starving people of the ravaged nations of Europe. The American people have acknowledged with heartening acceptance the raising of food.
Stanley Folsom, 1943 ASTA Farm Seed Division chairman.
“But this is not enough. We must also have increased production of food. To this end we as a group accept our part. Our part is the responsibility of careful growing, processing and grading to assure both a quantity and quality harvest. The responsibility of keeping ourselves informed of the latest findings of science, the latest development in treatment of both soil and seed and of growing methods to achieve increased production is all-important. In addition we must pass this information to the growers and to our agents to give their supervision during the growing period.
“This is no small responsibility. If, after this conflict, we are able to furnish the seed to produce the necessary food, it will mean a long step toward rehabilitation and one of the principles of the Four Freedoms will be established — freedom from want.”
The Micro and Macro Environment: An ASTA President’s View
One of the definitions of “environment” is “the aggregate of social and cultural conditions that influence the life of an individual community.” Specially attuned to this definition of environment is the American Seed Trade Association’s new president, Jerry Peterson. As ASTA president, Peterson will oversee the collective conditions (or actions) that influence the life of the American seed community.
Interestingly, Peterson is also interested in the seed industry’s influence on an even larger environment — American farmland and groundwater. This point came up in a recent interview, when Peterson was asked what major things he would like to see ASTA accomplish during the next year. “I’d like to see an improved level of awareness and responsibility of the seed industry to environmental questions,” says Peterson, pointing out he applauds the continuing efforts of companies that are developing plants with natural resistances to pests and diseases and that do not require such large amounts of chemical inputs. “I believe the low-input sustainable agriculture issue is becoming much more realistic. And, we are seeing increasing concern from environmental groups and government policy makers,” he notes.
Jerry Peterson, 1989 ASTA president.
Peterson, who owns his own forage and lawn grass seed company, notes current environmental concerns will definitely impact seed businesses. As a forage seed marketer, he may stand to profit, because alfalfa seed consumption could bloom as more farmers, universities and environmentalists identify alfalfa and other legumes as feasible alternatives to chemical fertilizers. “A major growth area is the use of annual alfalfa for spring planting and fall plow-down,” he says, noting farmers can benefit from getting several cuttings of hay and from rebuilding soils. In fact, he believes the ability to identify such growth markets will help seed companies succeed in the 1990s.
Moreover, customers might soon demand viable alternatives. Peterson says a recent University of Iowa farm safety survey of farmers indicates they were very concerned about the potential harmful effects of exposure to chemicals used in pesticides and herbicides. In fact, farmers ranked exposure to chemicals as a more serious health concern than stress, tractor accidents and other health problems. “We could make some very positive inroads with our customers if we identified for them that we, as an industry, are working on natural pest and disease resistance in our research, and that soon there will be products on the market reflecting these improvements, either within the seed or found in seed enhancement ‘coatings’ applied to the seed,” he says.