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:
Communications Committee: Committee members support both ASTA specific and industry wide initiatives. These efforts include, but are not limited to: coordinating industry messaging (as appropriate) to support advocacy goals and to drive pubic opinion; participating in the development and implementation of ASTA’s comprehensive communications plan; helping generate and respond to media coverage; amplifying ASTA social media content; apprising each other of emerging issues and media interests; sharing communications research & resources; and supporting industry communications efforts including Better Seed, Better Life public-facing initiatives, the Seed Ambassador Leadership Team (SALT), the Seed Treatment Stewardship Guide, student engagement activities, and more.
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.
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.
Innovation and Policy Committee: This committee covers policy and regulatory issues in the areas of new plant breeding and seed applied 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 ad hoc topic specific as well as standing working groups that report back to the committee, such as the Plant Breeding Innovation Working Group.
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.
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, 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.
Legislative 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 Advocacy Day 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.
Meetings Committee: The ASTA Meetings Committee continually monitors, evaluates, and seeks to enhance ASTA meetings to maintain and increase the value of ASTA events for its members and grow participation and engagement in those events.
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.
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 clsoe 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 Environment 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.
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.
Vegetable & Flower Technical Subcommittee: A sub-committee of the Phytosanitary Committee, this subcommittee focuses on phytosanitary issues of concern to the vegetable and flower seed industries. Comprised primarily of plant pathologists, seed scientists, and lab technicians from vegetable and flower seed companies, the VFTSC addresses technical issues concerning pests and pathogens of concern.