During the gala banquet at the American Seed Trade Association’s 132nd Annual Convention, Chairman John Schoenecker recognized industry leaders and thanked them for their service. He also urged members and the entire seed industry to continue its advocacy efforts and investment in the association.
Shoenecker recognized ASTA members who are going off the board of directors. These include Mervyn Selvidge of Z&S Seed Services, Inc., who served as Western Region vice president, and Jim Schweigert of GroAlliance, LLC, who most recently served as vice president to Canada.
Stepping in to fill those roles are Fred Fabre of S&W Seed Company and Matt Hynes of GROWMARK, respectively.
The 2015/16 ASTA officers were also inducted during the banquet. These include Risa DeMasi of Grassland Oregon as chair; Mark Herrmann of Monsanto Vegetable Seeds as vice chair; and Tracy Tally of Justin Seed Co., Inc., as second vice chair.
Before handing over the gavel and stepping down as chairman, Schoenecker urged the association to continue advocating for issues important to the seed industry. Advocacy was the overarching theme of Schoenecker’s year as chairman.
Strong advocacy is needed to further drive the debate on issues such as GMO-labeling that affect the seed industry, he said. This year, ASTA worked to build advocacy and education tools, provided training for members, kicked off a new communications campaign and launched the SeedFirstPAC.
“We are in a really strong position but have to further our interests and continue our efforts,” he said. “Please keep these efforts going and think advocacy and think ASTA.”
Shoenecker acknowledged that there’s risk involved but he said companies must be willing to take on a little risk to advance the larger issues — pollinators, a seed-specific international standard on phytosanitary measures, synchronizing regulatory approvals and more.
“We’ve got to be willing to take these risks,” Shoenecker said, calling for companies to commit people, time and resources to the association to continue moving these efforts forward.