April 6, 2016 Seed E-News
In This Issue
At A Glance
National Survey Seeks Farmers' Insight on Cover Crops

A nationwide survey
is seeking farmers' input 
on cover crops.  The 
results will help guide 
policy, research and 
education on cover 
crops nationwide. 
For more information, 
listen to ASTA's public service announcement,
 running on NAFB affiliates during the month of April.  This is the fourth annual cover crop survey by the Conservation Technology Information Center in conjunction with USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, and the American Seed Trade Association. 

Seed Industry Jam Band

Join the "Seed Industry Jam Band" for a special performance at the Opening Reception.  Whether you play an instrument or sing, this is your night to shine and have some fun! Members, spouses and family members are all invited to join.  Tie-dye shirts are welcome! For more information, contact  Michael DeMasi .
April is National Garden Month

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has proclaimed April as National Garden Month in recognition of the importance of gardens in fostering a healthy and sustainable environment for current and future generations of people, pollinators, and other living things. 

This is a time to celebrate the dedicated and important work of our nation's gardeners and to highlight the many benefits of gardens. USDA has a variety of resources available to help you spread the word!

New month brings new stories delivered directly to you. Enjoy!   

PS -- Do you know someone who would benefit from receiving Seed E-News? Have them Sign Up!
Personal Contact Key to Communicating with Elected Officials 

A recent National Journal Research survey identified the following key challenges faced by Congressional staffers:
  1. Sorting through Floods of Information: Hill staff struggle to sort through the information they receive, and desire more one-pagers and overviews.
  2. Tracking down Relevant Data: Offices labor to find district- and state-level information, and wish that groups provided more of it.
  3. Connecting to Constituent Voices: Policymakers want to be connected to authentic grassroots voices, not just sent form letters and robocalls.                       
The notable common thread is quality communication, which reinforces the necessity for personal contact with your elected officials.  Try it - take a moment today and call one of your elected officials (local, state or national) and simply say, "Hi, I'm [your name] and I work for [your company], a seed company in your district.  I want to offer my contact information in case any seed issues come up."  That's it.  You don't even need to ask for the official; a staffer will deliver your message. 

Here is a link to find out who represents you.  Contact ASTA Director of State Affairs  Pat Miller  and let him know how it goes.

ASTA Participates in Public Listening Session on Biotech Regulatory System

Representatives from ASTA participated in a public engagement session hosted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service as part of White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) initiative to update the    Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology.   Held March 30 at the University of California, Davis, this was the third and final public engagement session as part of OSTP's process. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration are also participating in this initiative and each hosted two previous public meetings.   

"Innovation is the top priority of the U.S. seed industry," said ASTA President & CEO Andrew LaVigne.  "As our understanding of plants evolves, it's imperative that we have a clear and consistent regulatory framework in place that promotes continued innovation and the efficient movement of seed across the globe. "

During the session, LaVigne and ASTA member-company representatives participated in breakout discussions and offered oral comments for the record.  ASTA will submit full written comments during the upcoming formal comment period. 

Senate Passes Bill to Defend Trade Secrets  

On Monday, April 4, the Senate voted 87-0 to approve the Defend Trade Secrets Act (S.1890)  , which would put trade secrets on par with other forms of intellectual property - like patent, trademark, or copyright protection.  A similar measure is pending in the House but there has been no committee action this Action.

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 Defend Trade Secrets Act would allow for resolution of disputes more broadly and more quickly than the current system by giving federal courts the ability to act immediately.

According to the Senate Judiciary Committee's
report, theft of trade secrets costs the U.S. economy at least $300 billion annually. 
ASTA Delegation Travels to Chile

A delegation of ASTA members traveled to Chile March 21-23 to visit with governmental and industry representatives.  The discussions primarily focused on new Chilean phytosanitary measures that would make it difficult for U.S. seed companies to export seed to Chile for grow- out or counter-seasonal production.
Meetings were held with the Chilean National Plant Protection Office, Chilean Seed Association, and representatives from the Chilean seed industry.  Overall, the meetings were productive.  On March 30, the U.S. received a formal letter from Chilean Ministry of Agriculture stating that phytosanitary regulations related to High Plains Virus (in corn) and Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus (in corn and wheat) will be delayed indefinitely, as a direct result of the data industry provided during the comment period. 
ASTA continues to work with its Chilean counterparts to address concerns with vegetable seed testing requirements.

ASTA, APHIS Host Webinar on NSHAPP Program  

On March 30, ASTA and USDA APHIS co-hosted a special webinar on the National Seed Health Accreditation Pilot Program (NSHAPP).  NSHAPP  offers a unique, voluntary opportunity for the seed industry-especially for companies that produce cucumber, melon or watermelon seeds-to showcase effective self-regulatory procedures already in place, thus helping to avoid unnecessary or duplicative federal regulation in the future. 

The slides from the webinar are available on the ASTA members-only website. For any questions, contact ASTA Senior Director, Seed Health and Trade, Ric Dunkle .  

The list of companies currently participating in the NSHAPP pilot program is available on USDA's website .  
Meetings & Education
Exhibitor Opportunities Available for ASTA Annual Convention 

Exhibit space is still available for ASTA's 133rd Annual Convention , June 18 - 22, 2016 in Portland, Oregon!  This year's Annual Convention has been combined with the Oregon Seed Association's 47th Annual Convention, bringing together top executives in the U.S. seed industry.
Exhibits will be located in the meeting space pre-function area for maximum exposure to attendees.  Featuring a number of networking special events and a free delegate registration with each exhibit booth, the Annual Convention offers a great value for your investment!  For more information, download the exhibitor form.

How Are You "Blazing Trails" for the Seed Industry?

Blazing Trails is the theme for ASTA's joint annual convention this June in Portland with the Oregon Seed Association.  We couldn't be more proud to represent our members, who are truly world leaders in this great industry!  As we get ready for our annual convention, we want to hear from you... How is YOUR company blazing trails?  Send your stories to Jennifer Crouse  or share them online with @Better_Seed using #BlazingTrails #ASTAannual.  We'll feature your stories throughout the convention!

FuSE Campus Connections Programs 

The ASTA Future Seed Executives (FuSE) Campus Connections program is gearing up for several days of high-impact learning at the 2016 ASTA Annual Convention. Six top-tier undergraduate students have been selected from three universities nationwide to participate in convention activities, engage in mentoring relationships with industry professionals, and network with future colleagues and peers. 
The students will be paired with industry mentors throughout the convention.  The student/mentor pairings are as follows:  
  • Dustin Belknap, Iowa State University | Bill Belzer, DuPont Pioneer
  • Luke Knight, Auburn University | Curtis Wiltse, Beck's Hybrids
  • Chang Liu, Iowa State University | Jeff Noel, Husker Genetics
  • Lauren Peacock, Purdue University | Craig Newman, AgReliant Genetics
  • Savannah Steinke, Purdue University | Shannon Latham, Latham Seeds
  • Luke Wildhaber, Purdue University | Karen Withers, Pennington Seeds
Thanks to all of the mentors who are volunteering their time to this effort!  Click here  for more information on the Campus Connections program. 

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 | info@amseed.org | http://www.amseed.org
1701 Duke Street, Ste. 275
Alexandria, VA 22314