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:
Innovations and Policy Committee: This committee covers policy and regulatory issues in the areas of new plant breeding innovations, research and transgenic seed products. The focus is on those policy and regulatory issues that have an impact across the seed industry. Examples of topics addressed by the committee include seed Low Level Presence (LLP), regulatory policies for seed products developed through innovative breeding technologies and U.S. policies on seed breeding and research. Advocacy and development of ASTA positions are initially developed through topic-specific working groups that report back to the committee.
Environmental & Conservation Seed Committee: Representing the interests of ASTA members who provide quality seed for conservation, energy and reclamation projects, and customers, this committee promotes the use of native and non-native seeds in key projects such as farm bills, state and local government uses, and federal agencies and departments. Priorities of the committee focus on the need for sound, science-based conservation and environmentally proven principles. The committee coordinates an annual conservation workshop each spring, held at USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Intellectual Property Rights Committee: Involved domestically and internationally, this ASTA committee develops and recommends policy positions on matters related to patent and plant variety protection rights for adoption by the Board of Directors. The committee works with USDA, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and other parties to develop rules and procedures related to the administration of the U.S. Plant Variety and Protection and Patent Acts. At a global level, the committee also advises ASTA representatives to the International Seed Federation’s Intellectual Property Committee. This committee conducts many activities through ad hoc working groups as the need arises.
Legislative and Legal Concerns Committee: Responsible for developing and reviewing policy positions which require legislative or regulatory action, the committee makes recommendations and submits these proposals to ASTA’s Board of Directors for final action. The committee chairperson then presents the proposals to the Board of Directors or Executive Committee. This committee provides a forum to fully discuss issues affecting the ASTA membership at all levels.
Management Skills Committee: Responsible for providing ASTA members with the opportunity to expand their knowledge of the seed industry and improve their management skills, the committee develops new programs and learning opportunities, like the ASTA Management Academy, for both new and experienced seed industry professionals.
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 the Association of Official Seed Analysts, the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies, and the Society of Commercial Seed Technologists, 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, standards, and related problems between the seed industry and seed analysts.
Seed Treatment and Environmental Committee: Open to all ASTA members, the committee serves as a source of information to industry on issues relating to the regulation and labeling of seed treated with pesticides, 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, when appropriate, advice to ASTA on legislation regarding the safety of the seed industry’s workers, the environmental implications of the trade or the application/interpretation of existing laws as they may relate to the seed industry.
International Executive Committee: This is a defined committee comprised of the chairman from the Intellectual Property Rights, Biotechnology, Phytosanitary, and Seed Industry Relations committees; ASTA’s representatives to the International Seed Federation; the chairmen of the five Country Working Groups; the chair of the Adventitious Presence Working Group; and the chairmen to ASTA’s Board of Directors. This committee plays a key role in ASTA’s global agricultural policy development and international programs. Working to set global and country priorities, develop strategies for ASTA representatives to ISF, and design strategies for USDA Cooperator Programs, including Foreign Market Development, Market Access Program and Emerging Markets Program, they provide guidance and participate in ASTA’s Priority Country Working Groups, and advocate ASTA’s message to U.S. government and stakeholders on the value of international programs in addressing these global seed issues.
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 for approval by ASTA’s Board of Directors to be submitted to the USDA National Organic Program. 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