Most issues addressed by the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) are bottom-up, driven from member representatives on ASTA committees or divisions. ASTA has seven divisions to which any member can belong, and it has 11 standing committees that address key seed science, policy and education issues.
ASTA members determine the future of the seed industry through active participation. Our success depends on your involvement. Grassroots efforts, quality discussions on policy issues, strategic goals and actions are the cornerstone to ASTA’s ability to advocate for the industry. Below are the ASTA Committees:
Innovation and Policy Committee: This committee covers policy and regulatory issues in the areas of new plant breeding innovations and research. The focus is on those policy and regulatory issues that have an impact across the seed industry. Examples of topics addressed by the committee are regulatory policies for seed products developed through innovative breeding technologies and U.S. policies related to breeding and seed research. Advocacy and development of ASTA positions are initially developed through topic-specifc working groups that report back to the committee.
Environmental & Conservation Seed Committee: This committee represents the interests of ASTA members who provide quality seed for land restoration, rehabilitation, and reclamation. The primary focus of the committee is to promote native seeds, introduced and released plant materials in projects on private and public lands. A basis for all aspects of the committee is the need for sound, science-based principles and efficiency in government programs. Committee members meet regularly with policymakers from the USDA and Department of Interior on issues directly impacting the environmental and conservation seed industry.
Intellectual Property Rights Committee: This committee develops and recommends policy positions on matters related to intellectual property protection at the domestic and international levels. The committee works with the U.S. Plant Variety Protection Office, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and other parties regarding rules and procedures related to the administration of the U.S. Plant Variety Protection and Patent Acts. At a global level, the committee also advises ASTA representatives to the International Seed Federation’s (ISF) Intellectual Property Committee, as well as the International Union for the Protection of New Plant Varieties (UPOV), and International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. This committee conducts many activities through the emerging issues ad hoc working group as the need arises.
Legislative and Legal Concerns Committee: This committee is responsible for setting and communicating legislative priorities and policy positions that are representative of ASTA’s diverse membership. Primary to ASTA’s legislative agenda is to ensure that state and federal regulations relating to the seed industry remain consistent and practical. This committee hosts ASTA’s annual Storm the Hill lobbying event.
Leadership, Education and Development (LEAD) Committee: This committee is responsible for providing ASTA members with opportunities to expand their knowledge and gain experience in skills necessary to sustain and grow a career in the seed industry. This is delivered via distance learning, on-site tours of ASTA member companies and in-person at ASTA meetings. The committee is focused on building leadership skills by involving those new to the industry up to those that are advanced in their careers.
Phytosanitary Committee: Representing ASTA in all national and international regulatory matters dealing with seed health, this committee focuses on the phytosanitary aspects of seed movement. It maintains a close relationship with USDA’s APHIS and foreign government plant quarantine bodies including the International Plant Protection Convention, the North American Plant Protection Organization and other regional organizations, including national and regional seed associations. Through this network, the committee monitors plant quarantine developments that might affect the movement of seed.
Seed Industry Relations Committee: Serving as a liaison with related industry associations, the Seed Industry Relations Committee fosters communication and cooperation on issues of mutual concern. The committee keeps abreast of domestic and international developments in seed testing methods, regulations, and policy.
Seed Treatment and Environmental Committee: The STEC committee serves as a source of information to the industry on issues relating to the regulation and labeling of seed treated with pesticides and biologicals, as well as how treatments relate to the environment, health, safety and well-being of employees and consumers. The committee promotes product stewardship, uniformity in labeling, and provides advice to ASTA on issues regarding the safety of the seed industry’s workers, and environmental implications of laws or regulations as they relate to the seed industry. A biologicals working group has been created under STEC to address specific issues for that subset of products.
International Executive Committee: This committee plays a vital role in developing ASTA’s global agricultural policy development and international programs. It is comprised of the chairs of the Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation & Policy, Phytosanitary, and Seed Industry Relations committees; ASTA’s representatives to the International Seed Federation (ISF) and other regional and international organizations; the chairs of ASTA’s Country Working Groups; and the chair of ASTA’s Board of Directors. The committee sets global and country priorities, develops strategies for ASTA representatives to ISF, and designs strategies for ASTA’s participation in USDA Cooperator Programs, including the Foreign Market Development program, Market Access Program and Agriculture Trade Promotion program. It conveys ASTA’s message and policy priorities to U.S. government and other stakeholders.
Organic Seed Committee: The committee works to resolve technical issues relevant to organic seed production, treatment, use and marketing. Open to all ASTA members interested in the development of the organic seed industry, the committee formulates policy recommendations to be submitted to the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) and National Organic Standards Board. The committee supports the organic seed industry for all commodities and interfaces with the USDA-NOP and the National Organic Standards Board.
Communications Committee: Committee members will support both ASTA specific and industry-wide initiatives. These efforts will include, but not be limited to: coordinate industry messaging (as appropriate) to support advocacy goals and to drive public opinion, participate in the development of ASTA’s comprehensive communications plan, generate more media coverage and attendance at ASTA annual conferences and meetings, apprise each other of emerging issues and media interests, share communications research & resources, and support industry initiatives like the Seed Treatment Stewardship Guide, First the Seed, FuSE, etc.
CSS Program Planning Committee: Committee members are responsible for selecting speakers and topics for the CSS (Corn, Sorghum and Soybean) conference session programming. The committee offers a variety of perspectives from experts working in the private sector to academia.
FuSE Committee: Student focused, FuSE includes organizing all of ASTA’s educational opportunities for undergraduate to PhD students, as well as work with a student subcommittee and developing targeted meeting and written material. Focuses on recruitment, outreach and content for ASTA student members.
Meetings Committee: The ASTA Meetings Committee continually monitors, evaluates and seeks to enhance ASTA meetings in order to maintain and increase the value of ASTA events for its members and grow participation and engagement in those events.
Stewardship Committee: Established to develop and implement a living work plan focusing on seed product quality, the committee is able to address related emerging issues. Developing industry guidelines and educating/reaching out to domestic and foreign governments, growers, and other stakeholders who have expertise in stewardship and quality assurance and management are a few of the committee’s activities. The committee primarily works on a project by project basis.
Vegetable & Flower Permanent Research Fund Committee: The committee determines the need for basic research relating to the vegetable and flower sector. Meeting once a year at the Vegetable and Flower Seed Conference, committee members vote on and fund research projects. A 3-year financial commitment is required, which entitles committee members access to all previous and current research results. This committee is managed by the Seed Science Foundation.