Important Note from the Iowa Seed Association Board of Directors President
Dear Iowa Seed Association Member,

What a year 2020 has been! Between the pandemic challenges and now the recent derecho storm that passed through Iowa on August 10th, we’ve all certainly had our share of obstacles to overcome as Iowans and as a seed industry. Fortunately, as we all know in the seed industry, we must take the good with the bad and move continually forward. As an industry, we are blessed to have a longer-term perspective to realize that times are going to get better and we will get back to a new normal soon enough.

On behalf of the Iowa Seed Association, I wanted to let you know that despite the challenges, the association continues to do well and move forward! Thankfully, we have some good board members that are very active and truly enjoy advancing the seed industry here in Iowa.

I wanted to make you aware of several initiatives that continue at the ISA:

  • Fieldwatch Program. Through a partnership with Fieldwatch, Inc. (a non-profit company), the Iowa Seed Association and its members have built out specific programming for seed companies to communicate the timing and location of seed workers in their fields and automatically communicate this information to aerial applicators. The results and feedback from seed companies and applicators has been positive. Both sides appreciate the transparency and collaboration allowing workers to be safe, while maximizing applicator’s efficiency and time. This pilot program is now going to be taken to other states as well.

  • Cover Crop Initiative. The cover crop initiative continues to help Iowa seed growers through its partnership with the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship (IDALS) by offsetting up to $15 per acre for seed growers that use cover crops on their seed acres. So far in 2020, we anticipate reaching over 200 growers with payouts of nearly $600,000.

  • Scholarships for Students Focused on Seed. The Iowa Seed Association continues to focus on the future of its industry by funding 11 scholarships for Iowa State University students looking to continue their education in the seed industry.  

These projects and initiatives continue to do well in part because of your membership and participation. We feel that these projects and others like them could only be accomplished by the industry coming together for the purposes of promoting, educating, and advocating for our member companies.

New Association Membership Offering for Seed Sales Representatives

As we look to the future, the ISA board has been looking at ways to be even more effective by increasing the association’s breadth and depth. Thankfully, the association is in good financial shape and we enjoy the longevity of celebrating over 100 years together as an association. While the number of member companies has decreased over the years through mergers and acquisitions; the number of people in the industry has grown. Likewise, having a voice as an industry and finding ways to work together has become even more important given the complexities in the industry and general disconnect between agriculture and much of the population.

After strategically reviewing the Iowa Seed Association and its future, we feel like we can better advocate for its members by allowing companies to have their professional sales representatives join the Iowa Seed Association as members. We anticipate better serving our member companies by giving a voice to the seed sales representatives and/or dealers that sell your products. The names of your sales representatives would be kept strictly confidential by ISA’s executive director, Joan O’Brien.

There are multiple objectives for allowing these seed sales representatives to join the Iowa Seed Association at a very reasonable membership rate. Here are several of those reasons:

  • Continuing Education on Agronomics and Business. While the Iowa Seed Association would never favor a product brand over another, we believe there are some opportunities to arrange online and in-person training for topics such as the scientific needs for seed treatment, estate planning for dealers, pest and weed training, business and trust formation, etc. Our intention is to leverage our association’s ties with Iowa State University (and other colleges), to give the association a unique ability to create valuable training that each sales representative can find benefit from.

  • Retain and build-up highly qualified reps. While many seed dealers and sales representatives in Iowa are very reputable, knowledgeable, and trustworthy; we want to find a way to continue this trend while encouraging young people to look at this option as a potential career going forward. Member seed reps will be provided recognition through certificates and/or stickers to show their participation.

  • Strengthen the industry’s voice. Having more members only allows the Iowa Seed Association to have a stronger voice within the agricultural community and beyond.

  • Common Business Solutions. Like other ongoing ISA projects, we feel the association is uniquely positioned to help dealers find cost-savings and/or solutions that help with the business of being a seed sales representative. Common solutions may include finding ways to purchase cheaper health insurance as a statewide group or other common projects that benefit Iowa seed and sales professionals.

While the association transitions this from idea-stage to reality, please be looking for additional information very soon on how your company’s sales representatives can join the Iowa Seed Association for a nominal fee of $50 per year.  

We feel like we want to make you aware of this opportunity as a member, but also should make you aware of this structural change as well. To make this happen, the ISA board of directors will vote on amending the by-laws at its September 23rd board meeting that adds two types of membership classes. Currently, there are only Regular members and Honorary members. This would add Associate Members and Sales Members as well. Seed company members would be “Regular Members” while non-seed company members would be “Associate Members” (this is done merely to create distinctions between the two). The new class of “Sales Members” would be a non-voting membership group but would have a representative on the board of directors.

This letter may contain more information than what you’d like to hear, but we wanted to ensure that we were being transparent about these changes while also giving you the opportunity to hear about these new opportunities.

If you have any questions or concerns about these structural changes, please feel free to contact Joan O’Brien at the Iowa Seed Association at (515) 262-8323 or email her at joano@agribiz.org. You can also contact me as well.  

In the meantime, we hope you stay safe and have a good fall and harvest. Thank you for your attention to this letter and I look forward to seeing you soon!

Sincerely,

Chris Latham, President
Iowa Seed Association
(641) 692-0365
chrisl@lathamseeds.com