Seed E-News 
March 24, 2017

Happy spring! We're gearing up for a busy season on Capitol Hill with our annual "Storm the Hill" legislative fly-in, April 4 & 5 in Washington, D.C. We hope to see you there! Also, if you are an ASTA member, stay tuned for outreach from your leadership team to solicit feedback about the association's current activities and priority areas. Your feedback is instrumental in ensuring the association is meeting your needs and is poised and ready to address new and emerging issues of importance to your companies. We thank you in advance for your participation as we build a successful future together! 
In This Issue
State of the States 

Most state legislatures have hit the midway mark in their sessions at this point in the year. This is a benchmark, given that bills filed late in the session are usually difficult to pass. 
ASTA is closely tracking a number of bills on topics including:  
  • Pollinators: Proposals to enhance pollinator habitat.
  • Seed Treatment: Most bills seek to limit or enhance regulations, but none have gained traction at this point.
  • Seed Preemption:
    • The bill in Arkansas has become law;
    • The bill in Utah is waiting on the Governor's signature; and
    • The bills in Missouri, Texas and Delaware are just getting started.
    • Invasive Species/Noxious Weeds: Bills seek to add species and/or change the structure of a state's invasive species regulatory system.
Thanks to all of the ASTA's members who have been helping at the state level. We'll continue to track movement on legislation of interest, and will keep you posted as things develop.

U.S. is Newest Member of International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources 

The United States is the newest member of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, a ground-breaking instrument that works to strengthen global food security by promoting the conservation, sharing, and sustainable use of agricultural plant genetic resources.
FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva and Thomas M. Duffy, Chargé d'Affaires ad interim of the U.S. Embassy to Rome, made it official during a ceremony at the UN food agency's Rome headquarters on March 13, 2017. The Treaty was passed by the U.S. Senate in September, 2016.
ASTA has long supported this technical, international agreement to facilitate the access and exchange of materials used to improve germplasm - the backbone of agricultural innovation. Under the Treaty, a Standard Material Transfer Agreement ensures that the terms for access to germplasm are uniform and transparent for all contracting parties. For more information on the Treaty, see ASTA's briefing paper and testimony from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in May, 2016.

Congress Examines Importance of Ag Research  

On March 16, the U.S.House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research, held a hearing to highlight the importance of agricultural research as part of the committee's hearing series on the next farm bill.

Witnesses included Richard Wilkins  representing the National Coalition for Food and Agriculture Research(NC-FAR), of which ASTA President & CEO Andy LaVigne serves as Chairman. Wilkins, and the other witnesses, stressed the important role of research in ensuring that American agriculture remains competitive and capable of addressing growing needs around the world.
For more information on the hearing, including full testimony and video, see the Subcommittee's press release .
New Market Information Available on China

The USDA Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) recently released two market reports on China. The reports are helpful tools for companies interested in learning more about opportunities in the Chinese seed market. 

The China Planting Seeds Market report   provides in-depth analysis of the composition of the market, and the policies that shape it, as well as an overview of current trade data. It also includes unofficial translations of China's seed law, regulations for seed labels, and proposed revisions to existing PVP regulations. The Agriculture Biotechnology Annual report  provides an overview of the current market environment for biotechnology crops in China, and highlights the regulations promoting the development of the domestic seed industry. 

A third report by the Asia and Pacific Seed Association discusses the implementation of a new regulation in China requiring QR codes on seed labels. 

Please contact  Michelle Klieger with questions regarding these reports.

ASTA Represented at African Seed Trade Association Annual Congress

The African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA) held its 2017 Annual Congress in Dakar, Senegal February 28 - March 3, 2017.  A gathering of the region's top seed producers and traders, the Congress covers topics that affect the entire value chain, such as plant breeding, seed treatment, and phytosanitary issues.
During the opening ceremony, AFSTA President Mr. Denias Zranyika provided a key message to the seed industry, stating that "where others see increasing hunger in Africa, we see an opportunity to contribute to increasing food production and feeding Africa's growing population through improved access to better seed." Charles Miller of Chromatin, Inc. represented ASTA at both the Congress and the AFSTA Board of Directors meeting.
Don't forget to register for the 2017 ISF Congress in Budapest

Advance registration for the 2017 International Seed Federation (ISF) World Seed Congress will remain open until May 9, 2017.  Held in Budapest, Hungary, May 22-24, the convention will focus on the goal of strengthening connections in the global seed industry.

The annual World Seed Congress is ISF's flagship event, bringing together the principal architects and decision-makers of the global seed industry. Currently, more than 1,100 delegates representing 58 countries have registered to attend. Learn more and register here.
Meetings & Education
National Garden Bureau Launches new Website

National Garden Bureau recently launched a new, redesigned, consumer-focused website.
Key features of the new site include
  • an "Inspiration" blog;
  • social media feed imbeds;
  • a new tagline/focus of: "Inspire, Connect, Grow;"
  • a bright, clean attractive design incorporating the look of NGB's new watercolor logo;
  • an enhanced user experience and simplified navigation; and
  • a mobile friendly, responsive design.   
Check it out at:! For more information about NGB, contact Diane Blazek .

Member News
Reminder: ASTA Dues Classification Forms due Friday, March 24 

"If you are an Active and Associate Member of ASTA, you should have recently received a letter regarding your FY 2017/18 dues classification."  If you haven't already done so, this is a reminder to please complete and return your classification form to ASTA by Friday, March 24 .
Please contact Ann Jorss with any questions, at (703) 837-8140 . Thanks in advance!
Other News
Meet ASTA's Newest Staff Member!

Brenda Rowe joined ASTA in March, 2017 as the Executive Assistant to ASTA's President and CEO Andy LaVigne. In addition, Brenda will serve as the Board Relations Manager assisting the Association's board of directors, executive committee and officers; ensuring coordination of projects within the office; scheduling and planning executives meetings and travel; training and providing leadership to other support staff, and ASTA member relations.

Prior to joining ASTA, Brenda worked as the executive office operations associate at the School Nutrition Association where she supported the board of directors and executive committee. She also worked as the executive assistant to the president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation.  Join us in welcoming Brenda Rowe to the ASTA team!

Join the Movement: Fascination of Plants Day is May 18

The fourth international Fascination of Plants Day  is May 18! Fascination of Plants Day is organized by the European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO) with the goal of getting people around the world fascinated by plants, and excited about the importance of plant science for agriculture.
This is an excellent opportunity to join in and help promote the message of "Better Seed, Better Life" with partners around the globe. Learn more about #PlantDay here , and download communications resources in the PR Toolbox