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In this issue:
Registration for Annual Convention Now Open
ASTA Storm the Hill a Success
State of the States
New Sponsorship Opportunity Available
Former Chairman Sonny Beck named NAMA's Agribusiness Leader of the Year
Wyffels Hybrids' Jeff Hartz Named NAMA's Marketer of the Year
Owen Newlin Honored by United States Grains Council
USB's John Becherer Recieves Purdue's Distinguished Ag Alumni Award

Registration for Annual Convention Now Open 


Registration is open for the ASTA 131st Annual Convention, being held June 11- 14 in Indianapolis, Ind. In addition, a special pre-conference ASTA/Purdue University workshop, the Seed Leadership Program, is also being held June 9 - 11 at our headquarter hotel, the J.W. Marriott Indianapolis.



This year's conference features an outstanding schedule of topics and special events, including:

  • A keynote presentation by Purdue University President Mitch Daniels;
  • A general session featuring World Food Prize Laureates Gebisa Ejeta and Philip Nelson;
  • A special "Green Flag" session, bridging the pre-conference workshop and the annual convention programming, highlighting key themes from Purdue's 2013 Large Commercial Producer Survey;
  • Breakout sessions on food safety, organic seed issues, biotechnology, legislative and legal concerns, intellectual property rights and more;
  • A special meeting and reception for ASTA's Future Seed Executives and a joint reception with FuSE and the American Seed Research Foundation at the NCAA Hall of Champions;
  • A welcome reception at Lucas Oil Stadium, tours of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a baseball outing to see the Indianapolis Indians, special events, tours for families, plus three ASTA sporting events!

 Registration is at and hotel rooms can be reserved at  (800-704-6162- reference the "American Seed Trade Association" room block if reserving by phone). The cut-off date for the ASTA group rate of $179 (rate includes internet access) is May 9, 2014.  



ASTA Storm the Hill a Success

Seed Advocate Logo
During the week of March 3-7, 30 ASTA members representing every region of the United States and the varied crops, came to Washington to "Storm the Hill." More than 60 visits were held with House and Senate offices and with the staff of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees, House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee and House Committee on Natural Resources. ASTA members took a message of strong support for policies and programs that support innovation, the environment and free trade.


With the President's budget released just days before the trip, a strong focus of the visit was also discussing ASTA's budget priorities including the National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) and the Germplasm Enhancement of Maize (GEM) program housed within the USDA's Agricultural Research Service. During the visit, ASTA recommended increasing funding for the NPGS to $75 million and to the GEM to $2.7 million. Full funding of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Plant Material Centers at $14.5 million was another budget priority.


Participants feel their messages were well received on Capitol Hill and that the meetings were worthwhile. We invite others to join ASTA's next Storm the Hill and help get our top priorities in front of our lawmakers. 
Participants in ASTA's "Storm the Hill."


State of the States


One part of ASTA's recently updated strategic plan points toward involvement with state legislative issues as they arise.  State legislative affairs efforts will always complement federal affairs activities.  Legislative issues at the state level often will evolve to the national level, thus emphasizing the importance of involvement at the state and local level.  ASTA depends on state and regional associations in these efforts, and provides support as applicable. 


To stay informed of specific activities in your state, use the legislative activity map within the ASTA website. It allows the ability to review the legislation being tracked with one click.  Check it out.


Here are the primary issues being monitored at the state level for 2014:

  •      Consistency of state laws and regulations
  •      General labeling restraints
  •      GMO labeling & anti-technology initatives  
  •      Sales tax exemption revocation on seed and other agriculture inputs  
  •      Strict liability issues
  •      Noxious weed control funding
  •      Funding of enabling state infrastructure
  •      Crop specific issues that arise and impact the seed industry 


It should be noted, however, that this is an "off-year" for state legislatures.  That is, not all states meet year-round, as some states only meet or focus on administrative or budget issues every other year.  However, that doesn't predispose the legislators of any mischief.


We'll do our best to keep you informed of the issues as the 2014 legislative sessions progress.  If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact Pat Miller, ASTA's Director of State Affairs. 


New Sponsorship Opportunity Available


One of the key functions of the American Seed Research Foundation is education in seed related sciences, including basic research in academics. To facilitate this education, ASRF will assist and encourage graduate students majoring in seed biology or seed science and technology to attend and participate in the ASTA's Annual Convention. This allows ASTA members to share  valuable insight into the private sector of the seed industry with the graduate students and establishes personal contact with members of the seed trade.   


ASRF is offering organizations the opportunity to contribute to these objectives through an event sponsorship at the June meeting.  By participating in the program, the company will receive great recognition with all conference attendees not only as a program sponsor, but as an organization committed to the development and engagement of the next generation of seed industry members and leaders. 


Sponsorship of ASRF Operation Student Connection Includes:


Cost $2,500 (exclusive) or $500 (Partial Support)

  • Verbal announcement of company name in session introduction
  • Company name and logo highlighted on materials presented at event
  • Company name and logo on signage at events

Former Chairman Sonny Beck named NAMA's Agribusiness Leader of the Year

Sonny Beck, president of Beck's Hybrids and former ASTA chairman, has been awarded the highest honor by the National Agri-Marketing Association's highest honor- The Agribusiness Leader of the Year award. The recognition will be presented at the Opening General Session of the 2014 Agri-Marketing Conference April 10 in Jacksonville, Fla.


Under Beck's leadership, Beck's Hybrids has experienced a 20 percent increase in sales each year for the last 20 years to become the largest family-owned seed company, and the 6th largest seed company in the United States.  


Wyffels Hybrids' Jeff Hartz Named NAMA's Marketer of the Year 


Jeff Hartz, Marketing Manager at Wyffels Hybrids will receive NAMA's Marketer of the Year award during the 2014 Agri-Marketing Conference in Jacksonville, Fla. The award is given annually to individuals who have outstanding accomplishments in marketing directly to ag producers.


While at Wyffels, Hartz has improved customer retention to 67 percent of new customers and 78 percent continued customer retention, leading the industry. Sales have increased 13.5 percent, and Wyffels recorded the highest purchase volume ever during the summer/fall 2013 early order period.


Owen Newlin Honored by United States Grains Council  


During the 11th International Marketing Conference and 54th Annual Membership Meeting of the US Grains Council, Own Newlin was honored with an award for a lifetime of distinguished achievement to the council. Newlin has served the United States Grains Council for 44 years.

USB's John Becherer Receives Purdue's Distinguished Ag Alumni Award  


United Soybean Board (USB) CEO John Becherer has received Purdue's Distinguished Agriculture Alumni Award in recognition of his contributions to the agriculture industry. Becherer received an agricultural economics degree from Purdue in 1987. Becherer was selected for his dedication and work for U.S. soybean farmers. Under his leadership, the soy Checkoff has grown to return a $6.40 additional profit to U.S. soybean farmers for every dollar invested.




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 

1701 Duke Street, Suite 275
, VA  22314

(p) 703.837.8140 │ (f) 703.837.9365

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