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In this issue:
Purdue University President,World Food Prize Laureates to Speak at ASTA Annual Convention
Registration Open for First-the Seed Foundation Fundraising Clay Shooting Event
US and European Seed Industry Representatives Discuss Free Trade Agreement
USDA Releases Prospective Planting Report
USDA Researcher Cites Progress in Search for Drought-Resistant Soybeans
California Farmers Short on Labor Due to Immigration Laws
ASTA Joins Coalition Advocating for Federal Action on GMO Labeling

Purdue University President, World Food Prize Laureates to Speak at ASTA Annual Convention 


ASTA welcomes Mitch Daniels, Purdue University President and World Food Prize Laureates Gebisa Ejeta and Phillip Nelson as presenters during ASTA's 131st Annual Convention.


Daniels is the 12th president of Purdue University, where he has made student affordability and success his top priority. Previously, he served two terms as Governor of Indiana, where he improved the fiscal condition and performance of state government. Daniels earned praise for adding record acres of wetlands, wildlife habitats and more than 3,000 miles of hiking and biking trails. Daniels will present the keynote speech during the Opening Session and Breakfast Thursday, June 12.


World Food Prize Laureates Ejeta and Nelson will speak during the General Session held Thursday, June 12 at 10:15 a.m. Ejeta is a Distinguished Professor of Plant Breeding and Genetics and International Agriculture at Purdue University. He currently serves as Executive Director of the Purdue Center for Global Food Security. Ejeta received the 2009 World Food Prize for his work in the development of drought tolerant and parasitic weed resistant sorghums. He has facilitated the adoption of these crop cultivars in numerous African countries.


Nelson is a Professor Emeritus of Food Science at Purdue University. He was named the 2007 World Food Prize Laureate recipient for his work with aseptic bulk storage, which has impacted the distribution of fruit concentrates in over 135 countries.

To hear these presentations, make sure to register for ASTA's Annual Convention, June 11-14 in Indianapolis. Registration is currently open and the early bird rate of $449 per person has been extended to May 9. After that date, the regular registration price will increase to $559 per person.


To register, click here.  

Registration Open for First-the Seed Foundation Fundraising Clay Shooting Event 

Please join us for the annual First-the Seed Foundation's fundraising clay shooting event at the Indiana Gun Club on Wednesday, June 11 from 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.  This fun event, held in conjunction with ASTA's Annual Convention, is for shooters of all ages and skill levels and will be followed by a BBQ lunch.  


All proceeds from this event support the Foundation's mission: To conduct education, outreach, and communication on the value of crops and food produced from seed.


You can register for the clay shoot by using the ASTA Annual Meeting electronic registration located online or by contacting Ann Jorss directly at  703-837-8140.


A special thanks to INCOTEC for sponsoring this event for the fifth straight year!

US and European Seed Industry Representatives Discuss Free Trade Agreement 


After the recent ISF Spring Meetings in Alexandria, VA, U.S. and European seed industry representatives took the opportunity to meet with the offices of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the European Mission to discuss the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). This proposed free trade agreement is being negotiated between the U.S. and the EU. According to officials involved in the meeting, this was the first time both industry and governments were present together to discuss the TTIP.


Members of the ASTA staff were joined by Garlich von Essen, European Seed Association, Carl-Stephan Schafer, German Seed Association, Niels Louwaars, Plantum,the Dutch seed association and Eric Devron, French Seed Association. The parties discussed a position paper jointly developed by ASTA & ESA covering phytosanitary issues, breeding techniques and sampling and testing for the presence of GMO's in conventional seed. The expectation is that negotiators can use this consensus to draft agreement language that will alleviate unnecessary and unjustified hindrances to seed movement between these two regions. The economic implications of this proposal are enormous, given that the U.S. and EU represent half of the world's market for commercially traded seed.



Representatives from ASTA, USTR, USDA and APHIS met with European Trade Representatives to discuss free trade.  


ASTA Staff: Andy LaVigne, Ric Dunkle, Michelle Klieger

EU Mission Trade Reps: Giulio Menato, Counselor for Agriculture, Thea Emmerling, Minister-Counselor, Food, Safety, Health and Consumer Affairs.

USTR: Mary Lisa Madell, Director for Agricultural Affairs

USDA: Linda Eilks, International Trade Specialist - New Technologies and Production

APHIS: Jay Mitchell, Director for Trade Policy - Europe, Middle East, New Zealand and Brendon J Reardon PhD,Trade Director- APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine

USDA Releases Prospective Planting Report  


On March 31, the USDA released the Prospective Planting report, the first official survey based on estimates of farmers' planting intentions for the 2014 season.


The report estimates 81.5 million acres of soybeans will be planted, a 6 percent increase from 2013 and an all-time high. The previous record was set in 2009, when 77.5 million acres were planted.

Corn acres are expected to decrease 4 percent from 2013, as farmers intend to plant 91.7 million acres. This will be the lowest planted acreage since 2010, as returns for corn are expected to be lower in 2014.


Other crops in the report include cotton and wheat. Cotton planted acres are expected to reach 11.1 million acres, a 7 percent increase over last year, while wheat acres are estimated at 55.8 million, a 1 percent decrease from 2013.


To read the full report click here


USDA Researcher Cites Progress in Search for Drought-Resistant Soybeans 


ASTA coordinated a seminar for staffers from the House of Representatives to hear from a USDA scientist about the progress in searching for drought-resistant soybeans.


Thomas Carter Jr., a geneticist with USDA's Agricultural Research Service Soybean Unit, shared his research findings, including discovery of a slow wilting trait that can give the plant an extra week in dry conditions and increase yields by five to seven bushels per acre.


Carter and his team have discovered 10 slow-wilting soybean varieties. USDA is now releasing a variety that has multiple stress resistances, which companies can use to conduct their own research and grow their own varieties.


Carter is optimistic that this research can be repeated in other crops and has long term potential. Public funding through USDA, the United Soybean Board, ARS, other agencies and funding from Pioneer, Monsanto and Syngenta has supported the research. The presentation was made during a Capitol Hill outreach seminar hosted by the National Council for Food and Agricultural Research.

California Farmers Short on Labor Due to Immigration Laws 


Despite record drought conditions, California farmers are facing a larger issue - an expanding labor shortage. A report released by the Partnership for a New American Economy and the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform reports a $1.4 billion annual loss in farm income due to the lack of available farm labor.


In California's Central Valley, nearly all farmworkers are immigrants, half of them living there illegally according to estimates from the University of California, Davis.


Current immigration laws prevent farmers from fielding a reliable work force. The diminishing supply of workers led average farm wages in the Central Valley to increase $1 per hour.


Industry leaders are pressing for immigration law reform. The Western Growers Association has pressed members of congress to pass immigration reform this year.


Growers are threatening to retract political support for candidates if reform is not passed in the coming year.


To read more on this story, visit the New York Times.

ASTA Joins Coalition Advocating for Federal Action on GMO Labeling


This year, ASTA joined The Coalition of Safe and Affordable Food, which is advocating for federal legislation to address the proliferation of state labeling initiatives for food and beverage products made with GMOs. Over 30 groups are involved in the coalition and argue that a patchwork of state labeling regulations would mislead consumers, raise the price of groceries for American families and do nothing to ensure food safety. 


The coalition is looking forward to legislation being introduced that will further a federal discussion regarding this issue with the intent of:
  • Informing consumers and advancing food safety, and 
  •  Affirming the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as the nation's authority on food safety and labeling matters.
ASTA will continue to update you on progress of the legislation.  In the meantime, please visit the coalition's website
For additional background information on biotechnology, visit



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 

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, VA  22314

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ASTA prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and where applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or part of an individual's income is derived from any public assistance program. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact ASTA at 703-837-8140.