ASTA’s mission is to enhance the development and movement of quality seed worldwide. Better seeds produce better crops for a better quality of life. The seed industry is committed to helping growers succeed through improved quality, productivity, and quality, production efficiency and reduced risk.
- Legislative Priorities
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service Funding
- USDA Cooperator Programs
The 2018 Legislative Priorities outline ASTA’s positions on some of the most pressing issues
facing the industry that will impact our ability to continue improving seed in the years ahead.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service Funding
In 2007, the 750 ASTA member companies invested nearly 20% of seed sales in the US in research and development which totaled over $2 billion. However, private investment alone can’t secure the United States position as the world’s leading crop producer. The plant breeding process is a continual one and diverse genetic resources from other countries, crop ancestors, and related species are a critical input. Federal investments to maintain these genetic resources are fundamental to the success of agriculture in the U.S. ASTA recommends increasing funding of ARS to $1.192 billion.
National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS)
The NPGS is an active collection of 540,000 plants stored in USDA facilities across the country. Plant breeders turn to the collections to find genetic traits to help develop new varieties to address threats from evolving diseases and pests and changing climates. ASTA recommends increasing funding to $72 million in order to sustain the germplasm collections and increase understanding of the materials housed within them.
Germplasm Enhancement of Maize (GEM)
GEM is an international collaboration among USDA-ARS, university, and private seed company researchers and a model for future public-private research endeavors. GEM focuses on adapting exotic corn germplasm for use in the U.S. and identifying useful genetic traits in exotic landraces to develop new hybrids. Demand for maize germplasm will continue to increase in the future due to the need for new traits in the face of changing climates, the desire to continue to increase yields sustainably and the growing use of corn seeds and crop residues as a fuel feedstock. Private industry provides over $625,000 of in kind support annually for this effort and industry germplasm contributions to GEM are currently valued at over $3 billion. ASTA recommends increasing funding of the GEM to $2.7 million.
The U.S. seed sector is a thriving science-based industry with an estimated $15 billion market value. With an export value of over $1.6 billion it is both the largest market for seed in the world and the largest global exporter of seeds. ASTA supports a strong trade agenda as an effective means of eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers and expanding global trade. The TPP will expand our opportunities to reach key markets.
Key provisions for the seed industry include:
- Intellectual Property Rights;
- Modern Agriculture Biotechnology; and
- Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS).
ASTA urges Congress to take swift action to pass the agreement.
USDA Cooperator Programs
American agriculture and American workers continue to face increasingly strong foreign competition supported by government sponsored activities. Exports are a vital part of the U.S. economic engine, and agricultural exports continue to be its strongest component. The forecast for agricultural exports for FY15 is estimated to be approximately $140.5 billion. While below the all-time record level of $152.5 billion set in FY14, this would still be the third highest record level for U.S. agricultural exports.
The Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development Program (FMD) are a public-private partnership designed to promote exports of US products.. ASTA supports the funding of MAP and FMD at no less than $200 million and $34.5 million respectively for FY16, as authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. MAP has been funded annually at this level since 2006 and FMD at its level since 2002. Over 50 year, resources from MAP and FMD have been critical to ASTA’s ability to provide international leadership working with trading partners to resolve technical barriers to the movement of seed.