May 6, 2016 Seed E-News
In This Issue
At A Glance
ASTA President & CEO Featured in Washington Post

The Washington Post recently published a letter  to the editor from ASTA's President and CEO Andy LaVigne.  The letter, in response to the April 19 news article "Gene-edited mushroom could soon be for sale,"  spoke to the safety of seed breeding and the importance of continued innovation to the future of agriculture and our quality of life. 

In case you missed it, check it out here.
Exciting Things are Happening at First-The Seed! 

The First-The Seed Foundation (FTSF) has a new Program Manager and a new newsletter! 

Sabrina DeVall joined FTSF in December and is working on developing and implementing a new marketing plan and programs to support the Foundation.  Sabrina has extensive marketing and PR experience, having worked for many years with the USDOT as a Public Relations Specialist and more recently for an international B2B company as the Marketing Programs Manager. 

To stay up to date on the latest happenings at FTSF, subscribe to the quarterly newsletter by emailing Sabrina .   The first edition of the newsletter  hit inboxes on April 27. 

May is here and as you know ASTA has some pretty exciting news and events lined up for this month and the summer months to come.  Don't miss a beat and enjoy!   

PS -- Do you know someone who would benefit from receiving Seed E-News? Have them Sign Up!
USDA Seeks Public Comments on Seed Service Testing Program

USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is seeking public comments on the paperwork and regulatory burdens associated with its program used to conduct voluntary seed testing on a fee-for-service basis.  According to AMS, the purpose of the program is to promote efficient, orderly marketing of seeds, and assist in the development of new and expanding markets.  

Under the program, samples of agricultural and vegetable seeds submitted to AMS are tested for factors such as purity and germination at the request of the applicant.  In addition, grain samples, submitted at the applicant's request, are examined for the presence of certain weed and crop seed by the Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration.  A Federal Seed Analysis Certificate or an ISTA Orange International Seed Lot Certificate is issued giving the test results.  Most of the seeds tested under this program are scheduled for export, as many importing countries require a Federal Seed Analysis Certificate on U.S. seed.  

Comments are due by June 27.  See the Federal Register Notice  for more details


On April 27, 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Defend Trade Secret Act (DTSA), which creates federal court jurisdiction for trade secret claims.  Already passed by the Senate, the bill is now headed to the White House for the President's signature. 

"The Defend Trade Secret Act is a critical improvement to U.S. law that provides plaintiffs the option to use a uniform and consistent law across all 50 states, with defined procedures and damages," said James Weatherly, Executive Director, Seed Innovation Protection Alliance.  

The DTSA puts trade secrets on par with other forms of intellectual property - like patent, trademark, or copyright protection.  For a wide range of industries-seed included-trade secrets are what give companies their competitive edge.  They include everything around the innovation process, which is critical in the seed industry, as it can take years to develop a product for market.  The Act will provide consistency across states through clearly-defined federal laws and procedures, and allow for resolution of disputes more quickly by giving companies the ability to go to federal courts immediately.  

Theft of trade secrets is estimated to cost the U.S. economy at least $300 billion annually.  
National Organic Standards Board Holds Policy Meeting

The National Organic Standards Board ( NOSB)-which provides input for USDA's National Organic Program-met in Washington, D.C. last week for its semi-annual three-day policy meeting.  In advance of the meeting, ASTA provided written comments focusing on excluded methods, seed purity, silicon dioxide as an allowable substance, and other seed-industry priorities. 
During the meeting, the Board reviewed of a proposal on excluded methods and discussed which plant-breeding techniques should be allowed for certified organic seed.  The proposal was sent back to a subcommittee for continued revisions

The Board also discussed seed purity issues and the possible formation of a Task Force to look at options for collecting data on GM contamination sources.  "The data that we really need to identify first is whether contamination is coming from the seed or from pollen drift, or from post-harvest handling," said NOSB member Zea Sonnabend.  "The marketplace data collection is 'are you being contaminated?' not 'where is it coming from?'"  A formal proposal is expected by early fall. 

ASTA Supports Strong Investment in Agricultural Research Programs

On April 19, the House Committee on Appropriations approved the fiscal year 2017 Agriculture Appropriations bill .  The bill totals $21.3 billion in discretionary funding, which is $451 million lower than the fiscal year 2016 enacted level and $281 million below the President's budget request. 

Of particular interest to the seed industry, the bill provides $2.85 billion for agriculture research programs, including the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.  Included in this level is a $25 million increase for USDA's premier competitive research program - the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.  It also provides $3 million for consumer education on biotechnology - a joint effort by the FDA and the USDA.  Furthermore, the Committeereport includes encouraging language in support of the germplasm enhancement of maize project and continued cooperation between ARS and industry.    

ASTA is well-positioned to lead the call for enhanced agricultural research funding as President & CEO Andy LaVigne was recently elected President of the National Coalition for Food and Agricultural Research (C-FAR).  C-FAR  is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, consensus-based and customer-led coalition that brings food, agriculture, nutrition, conservation and natural resource stakeholders together with the food and agriculture research community.  The coalition serves as a forum and unified voice in support of sustaining and increasing public investment at the national level in food and agricultural research, extension and education.

International Seed Federation Hosts World Seed Congress

Several members of ASTA's staff will participate in the International Seed Federation (ISF) World Seed Congress in Uruguay, May 14-18.  This is an important week of meetings that will influence global policies impacting the seed industry.  More than 125 delegates from the U.S. are expected to participate.  If you plan to be in attendance and would like to set up meetings with ASTA staff, contact Kelly Crist.   These meetings are an excellent opportunity to update ASTA representatives on issues and challenges you're facing at the global level. 
ASTA Shines a Spotlight on Global Seed issues during May

In celebration of the World Seed Congress, ASTA is featuring international seed issues on social media throughout the month of May.
Did you know...?
  • The U.S. exports over $1.5 billion worth of seeds annually;
  • ASTA companies export to over 150 countries globally; and
  • The average seed travels through six countries before it's planted by a farmer!
Be sure to follow @Better_Seed for more fun facts and figures about seed trade, and help us spread the word!  Also, if you're not receiving ASTA's quarterly international newsletter, Global Seed News, email Kelly Crist to be added to the distribution list (must be an ASTA member to subscribe). 
Meetings & Education

Reserve Your Spot for Portland Tours!
Heading to Portland for the ASTA/OSA Annual Convention next month?  Be sure to reserve your spot on the many tours and special events being offered throughout the week!   

Blazing Trails through Oregon Agriculture Field Tour  is a guided tour of the Willamette Valley ag industry. Participants will explore fertile fields and experience the unique climate which fosters the growth of a vast number of crop varieties, ranging from grass seed to fresh market vegetables to hops and wine grapes.
The Portland Rose Gardens/Foodie Tour is the only city tour in Portland that offers a well-balanced overview of both downtown and surrounding area history, culture, current events and a representation of cultural diversity in the state of Oregon.
The Multnomah Falls Tour and Luncheon  is an adventure to the Columbia River Gorge & Waterfalls.  Participants will enjoy spectacular views of many waterfalls along the Historic Columbia River Highway National Scenic Byway.
Finally, for all you athletes, be sure to sign up for the Gary Arthur Memorial 5K Fun Run/Walk  or the golf tournament at beautiful OGA!
For more information and to register, visit the webpage.  
Seeding Success
It's your membership and financial support that allows ASTA to do this work and get you the information you need. Please encourage other seed industry colleagues to join ASTA and contribute to the success of the industry.

American Seed Trade Association | (703) 837-8140 | |
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