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Make Your Voice Heard

Over the past year as chairman, I have been impressed by the tremendous number of issues the American Seed Trade Association addresses on behalf of our industry. These issues have been all across the board ranging from burdensome and disruptive laws and regulations to biotech trait patent expiration. We have weighed in on international treaties and worked to create an environment where all production systems (i.e. biotech, conventional, identity preserved and organic) can be successful. We have focused on eliminating international barriers to trade and proactively advocated our industry needs for investment and infrastructure at the state, federal and international levels. All of these activities support a positive climate so our businesses have a great chance to succeed in achieving their goals and aspirations.

ASTA has a talented professional staff who help the industry tackle these issues. While these people are extremely dedicated, we would not achieve all of the progress we enjoy without the engagement of our members. We are truly a member-driven organization, and the collective strength of our members’ efforts in combination with ASTA staff makes it all work.

Visits with government officials have become one of ASTA’s key activities. This is important at the local, state and federal levels. We need to tell our story—otherwise, our issues will most likely not be considered. This grassroots approach is so powerful. It helps officials understand that the issues we bring forward impact the businesses, jobs and constituents in their areas. Once we start this relationship, we would like to see it turn into an on-going dialogue.

In conjunction with the 129th Annual Convention in Washington, D.C., we have created a great opportunity for you to visit your representatives and senators. We are calling this event “Storm the Hill Day,” and we expect at least 100 members, spouses and children to participate. The timing will coincide with the new Farm Bill debate, which is in full swing. Every title of the current Farm Bill contains language that impacts our industry. Key programs where we would like to see continued support include the National Plant Germplasm System, the Germplasm Enhancement of Maize, USDA Cooperator Programs (i.e. the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development program) and a number of provisions that protect seed growers with the same rights as commodity growers. We are also very interested in seed research (ARS), Foreign Agricultural Service programs, the National Organic Program and conservation programs.

We have evolved into a critical enabling player in driving food security, productivity, sustainability, alternative energy and environmental conservation.

The future of the seed industry is extremely bright. We have evolved into a critical enabling player in driving food security, productivity, sustainability, alternative energy and environmental conservation. However, with this recognition comes a responsibility to continue to deliver results. This will be a challenge in the face of volatile markets and growing seasons. Our continued success depends on knowing we have a business structure that respects intellectual property rights, which opens markets and makes the movement of seed more fluid. Each region and species group has its own special challenges which deserve attention. We hope you all take the opportunity to tell your story and make your voice heard!

Mike Gumina, Vice President of Production and Safety, Health, Environment/Risk Management, Pioneer Hi-Bred and Outgoing Chairman of the American Seed Trade Association