We're looking forward to seeing many of you in Orlando this weekend for ASTA's 56th annual Vegetable and Flower Seed Conference! Follow @Better_Seed and #ASTAVegFlo for the latest news and pictures from the conference!
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The state legislative sessions are up and running at full speed. As expected, we see legislation addressing pollinators, GMOs, and noxious weeds, among other issues. We are tracking about 50 bills at this time.
ASTA is supporting several bills that would preempt local municipalities' ability to pass seed-related rules that are more stringent than state law. This preemption currently exists in 26 states. A Washington state bill, created with ASTA's assistance and supported by the state's seed community, would change the state arbitration law to mediation. Another ASTA-supported bill in Washington would require government agencies to test seed for germ and purity prior to purchase by state agencies.
For regular updates on these and other state issues, contact Pat Miller or better yet, join the State Governmental Affairs Working Group!
Finally, congratulations to the Arkansas Agriculture Department State Plant Board on its 100th anniversary! At last week's Arkansas Seed Dealers Association convention, State Seed Control Official Mary Smith gave a very interesting presentation on the changes at the department over the years.
ASTA Welcomes Direction of USDA Plant Breeding Policy
On January 18,
USDA released for pre-publication a proposed rule-making notice related to plant breeding innovation. ASTA has been actively engaged in discussions with the agency throughout the rule-making process, and is pleased that the proposal recognizes plant breeders' long track record of safety and quality.
ASTA's overarching policy is that plant varieties developed through the latest breeding methods should not be differentially regulated if they are similar to or indistinguishable from varieties that could have been produced through earlier breeding methods.
"We're pleased that USDA's proposal recognizes that some applications of gene editing result in plant varieties that are essentially equivalent to varieties developed through more traditional breeding methods, and treats these varieties accordingly," said LaVigne. "While we're still reviewing the proposal in detail, this approach will help ensure that U.S. agriculture remains at the forefront of innovation and maintains its leadership role globally."
Food, Ag Groups Urge President Trump to Modernize NAFTA
On January 23, ASTA joined with a diverse group of more than 130 food and agriculture groups in sending a letter to President Trump urging the new Administration to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in ways that preserve and expand upon the gains achieved.
Together Canada, Mexico and the United States make up one of the most competitive and successful economic regions in the world. The success of this trading relationship has come largely from economic cooperation, integration, and policy alignment.
"With a few key sector exceptions that still require attention, North America intraregional food and agricultural trade is now free of tariff and quota restrictions, helping U.S. farmers, ranchers and food processors expand exports," stated the groups in the letter. "However, barriers still exist for U.S. exporters and we look forward to working with your Administration on reducing the non-tariff trade barriers that continue to inhibit our exports to the North American marketplace, as well as to addressing the remaining tariffs impeding access for some U.S. export sectors."
View the full letter here.
U.S. Introduces Legislation to Promote Agriculture Trade with Cuba
The Cuba Agricultural Exports Act HR 525
introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday, January 13, by Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR), with bipartisan support from 26 original cosponsors. Supported by ASTA, the bill
would remove restrictions on export financing for agricultural products, allowing U.S. businesses to provide payment or financing terms for sales of agricultural commodities to Cuba.
ASTA recently joined with more than 100 national and state agriculture associations and agribusiness groups in sending a
to U.S. House leadership urging support for American agriculture by advancing the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba, including the passage of H.R. 525.
Mark your Calendar for Special Sessions on Cuba, Plant Breeding Innovation, and much more at ASTA's Vegetable & Flower Seed Conference!
If you're heading to Orlando later this week for ASTA's Vegetable & Flower Seed Conference, be sure to mark your calendars for a few sessions you won't want to miss!
First, the Global Business Session - Cuba, Sunday 3:30 - 5:30 p.m., will give an inside look at the political, agricultural and business environment in Cuba. The panel discussion features leading university and industry experts with extensive knowledge and personal involvement in activities in Cuba over the past several years as U.S. policy with Cuba has evolved. Dr. Jack Payne, Senior Vice President, UF-Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), will moderate the session of star studded panelists:
- Dr. Frederick Royce, UF, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Program manager between UF - University of Havana;
- Matthew Johnston, HM CLAUSE, CEO; and
- Pedro Sanchez, University of Florida, Research Professor, Tropical Soils - World Food Prize Laureate.
Second, the Opening General Session, Monday 8:30 - 11:00 a.m. will feature a two-part program with a special presentation from Disney and a panel on Plant Breeding Innovation.
Disney's Eric Darden, head of Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival, will offer the keynote presentation (including a special announcement for the seed industry!). The keynote will be followed by an outstanding panel discussion on plant breeding innovation, with:
- Harold Browning, Chief Operations Officer, Citrus Research and Development Foundation;
- Harry Klee, Eminent Scholar and Professor, UF
- Kevin Diehl, Director, Regulatory Strategy and Industry Relations, DuPont Pioneer; and
- Bernice Slutsky, Sr. VP, Domestic & International Policy, ASTA. Click here for more information including speaker bios.
Finally, we have a number of committee and working group meetings are will be addressing issues important to the vegetable and flower seed sectors and we need you input and expertise at the table! Please plan on attending those meetings. We look forward to seeing you in Orlando and I hope you'll make time to attend these very special sessions planned for this year's meeting. Safe travels in we'll see you in Florida!
Register Today for ASTA Management Academy
Registration is open for the 2017 American Seed Trade Association Management Academy, March 6-10 in West Lafayette, Indiana! A partnership between ASTA and Purdue University's Center for Food and Agricultural Business, the academy is designed specifically for seed-industry professionals.
Craig Newman, recently retired president and CEO of AgReliant Genetics, will serve as the program's Executive in the Classroom for 2017. "The ASTA Management Academy is the best professional development program for seed industry professionals available today because it is professional, educational, diversified, effective and motivating," he said.
Attendees will work through structured exploration of key management topics and skills, including: marketing, financial and strategic management, and organizational leadership. The content is applicable for both experienced decision makers and those who are new to the seed industry.
Learn more and register here!
Welcome to ASTA's new member of 2017
Worldwide distributor of vegetable and fruit seed.
El Centro, CA
Developer and manufacturer of consumer and professional products including peat-based growing media, soil amendments, fertilizers, seeds, pest control products and biostimulants including mycorrhizae and biofungicides.
Manufacturer and supplier of natural, conventional and organic, whole-food fruit, vegetable, herb, and other specialty ingredients.