ASTA Preparing Farm Bill Input

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Virginia Houston

The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) has an interest in several titles of the farm bill, so the organization is making preparations for the 2018 legislation.

The research title is extremely important to the industry, and trade promotions are absolutely critical, Jane DeMarchi, VP of Government and Regulatory Affairs and Virginia Houston, Associate Director for Domestic and Government Affairs for ASTA reiterate. But it’s conservation that got a lot of attention at the recent annual meeting.

“Part of our membership segment supply conservation seed that goes for the farmers to implement these programs and just like the farmers you’re hearing are having difficulties with program efficiencies and deliveries, so do seed suppliers,” explained Houston. “So we’re really looking at how can the seed industry help NRCS and help the farmer partners improve the program efficiency– make them more cost efficient and also help them meet conservation goals.”

ASTA’s Jane DeMarchi

ASTA will work with a lot of partners to meet these goals, but most especially their members. The process is already rolling along; members of the working group heard a first draft last week at the meeting and now staff members will head to the hill to find out how the ideas float with lawmakers and other stakeholders.

Learn more about ASTA’s work on the farm bill in Cindy’s interview here: Interview with Jane DeMarchi and Virginia Houston, ASTA

2017 ASTA Annual Meeting Flickr album

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Farm Groups Cheer WOTUS Repeal

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Ding dong the ditch rule is dead!

The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have officially begun the process to withdraw the highly controversial Waters of the United States (WOTUS) final rule and begin a replacement rulemaking process to gather input and re-evaluate the definition of WOTUS, to cheers from farmers and ranchers nationwide.

American Farm Bureau – “Today’s announcement shows EPA Administrator Pruitt recognizes the WOTUS rule for what it is—an illegal and dangerous mistake that needs to be corrected. Farm Bureau looks forward to supporting Administrator Pruitt’s proposal. EPA should ditch this rule once and for all, go back to the drawing board, and write a new rule that protects water quality without trampling the rights of businesses and the states.”

National Corn Growers – “We are thankful this Administration is working to draw clear lines in terms of what is and what is not jurisdictional under the Clean Water Act. In doing so, they will enable farmers to implement best management practices such as grass waterways and buffer strips without the burden of bureaucratic red tape or fear of legal action. These types of land improvements have enormous water quality benefits, such as reducing sediment and nutrient runoff—a win for farmers and the environment.”

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association – “This is another great step in the right direction, and the Administration deserves a great deal of credit for injecting some much-needed common sense into our nation’s environmental policies. It’s important to remember, though, that this rule isn’t dead yet. The rulemaking process continues, and NCBA will submit and solicit additional comments on behalf of America’s cattle producers so that they finally get the sanity and clarity they need on land use policy.”

National Pork Producers – “The WOTUS rule was a dramatic government overreach and an unprecedented expansion of federal authority over private lands. It was the product of a flawed regulatory process that lacked transparency and likely would have been used by trial lawyers and environmental activists to attack farmers.”

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Clariant Colors the Seed Industry Bright

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If you haven’t heard of Clariant, it’s pretty remarkable to discover all the ways this manufacturer of chemicals might be involved in your daily life. With manufacturing plants around the globe, Clariant’s color division is providing pigments to industries like plastics, oil, even airline de-icing. They were at the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) annual meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota last week, however, to make sure the industry is aware of what they can do for seeds.

“We have six colors that are dry colors and six dispersions from those colors, said Eric Wrice, technical sales manager for Clariant. “They’re all EPA approved and they meet the specifications of the United States market. Another thing about these products- you can get them globally any where in the world, so if you’re a big manufacturer of seeds and you market all around the world you can get the same products anywhere.”

Clariant’s newest colors are shades of white and yellow that allow greater precision when it comes to providing an exact shade to, say, match a brand. They can get into almost any color space, Wrice explained. And you won’t find higher quality products, since Clariant even makes many of the products that go into the coloring. In addition, these color products can actually enhance all the work that has gone into creating a seed since they also contain a sustainability additive.

Listen to Cindy’s full interview with Wrice here to learn more about Clariant seed colors: Interview with Eric Wrice, Clariant

2017 ASTA Annual Meeting Flickr album

Agribusiness, AgWired Precision, ASTA, Audio, Clariant, seed

ASTA Honors Dr. Stephen Smith

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Dr. Stephen Smith was honored last week at the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) annual conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Dr. Smith was made a Lifetime Honorary Member during the Gala Banquet in recognition of his leadership, vision, and service to the seed industry.

“Dr. Smith has been an ardent supporter of ASTA’s activities on the domestic and international levels for over 20 years,” said ASTA Chair Mark Herrmann. “He is known worldwide, well respected and deeply committed to the seed industry. An unfailing volunteer, a tireless worker and an unrelenting defender and advocate of intellectual property rights, he has traveled the country and the world attending meetings, giving speeches, organizing symposia and other activities related to intellectual property, germplasm protection and breeding for the seed industry. Respected by his colleagues in industry and government, domestically and internationally, he has become a ‘go to’ person in the industry on seed intellectual property.”

Dr. Smith holds a B.S. from the University of London and an M.S. in Conservation of Plant Genetic Resources and Ph.D. on the Evolution of Maize from the University of Birmingham. At North Carolina State University he continued his research on maize as a postdoctoral student. He spent many years at DuPont Pioneer securing intellectual property rights and has served on both ASTA and Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) intellectual property committees.  His newest endeavor is as a professor and visiting scientist in the Departments of Agronomy and Seed Science at Iowa State University.

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Seeds in Space Benefit Ag on Earth

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There’s a good bet that the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) annual meeting of 30 years ago looked remarkably different than the event that took place last week in Minneapolis, MN. And it’s a good bet that the science and technology making an impact on the industry in another 30 years may not have even been thought of yet, but it’s those careers, those innovations that drive the education program of CASIS.

CASIS manages the laboratory on the International Space Station on behalf of NASA, making the results of experiments freely available. They also work hand in hand with ASTA and the First- The Seed program to draw students into the importance of growing food through the Tomatosphere curriculum.

Teachers in the U.S. and Canada can receive two packets of seed for their classroom, one that has been into space and one that has not. The classroom then gets to grow, hypothesize, and experiment upon those plants to learn the effects of space on plants.

Naturally, classroom students aren’t the only ones who want to know about the effects of space on our ability to grow food. CASIS is also conducting studies that will have far-reaching implications. They began with the quick-growing plant, arabidopsis, which is the genomic standard for plant research, but now they’re moving beyond.

“We’re ready to expand that and do any other crops because we want to learn things that are going to help earth– maybe make plants grow better here on earth, but also to prepare for that long duration mission going to Mars and who knows where else?” explained Debbie Wells, program manager for CASIS.

Listen to my full interview with Debbie Wells and Samantha Thorstensen to learn more about CASIS and the Tomatosphere program: Interview with Debbie Wells and Samantha Thorstensen, CASIS

2017 ASTA Annual Meeting Flickr album

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ASTA Elects New Leadership

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Justin Seed president Tracy Tally receives the gavel as incoming chairman of ASTA with the support of his family

The American Seed Trade Association has been a continuously growing family for the past 134 years, and the family of new chairman Tracy Tally has been a constant at the ASTA annual meeting for many of those years.

Tally is president of Justin Seed Company in Justin, Texas, a company founded by his father in 1956. Besides running Justin Seed for the past 25 years, he served as the ASTA Southern Region Vice President, an officer on the Texas Seed Trade Association Board, was previously a certified crop adviser and serves for a variety of organizations in his community. Joining Tracy in celebrating Friday were his wife, Julie and four daughters, Emily, Elizabeth, Erica and Ellen, as well as his parents Curtis and Oneta.

“My goal is to continue the strong legacy that has been built over the past 134 years as we work to address new and emerging challenges at home and around the globe,” said Tally. “In the coming days, weeks and months, we will have new opportunities ranging from new plant breeding innovations, and how they’ll be defined both domestically and internationally, the implementation of a new food labeling law, and making our voice heard in the midst of the changing political landscape.”

Listen to my interview with Tracy here: Interview with New ASTA Chair Tracy Tally, Justin Seed Co.

Other newly elected members on the ASTA board for the coming year are First Vice Chair Jerry Flint, DuPont Pioneer; Second Vice Chair Wayne Gale, Stokes Seeds; Canada rep Jim Schweigert, Gro Alliance; Mexico rep Pablo Fernandez, Dow AgroSciences; and Central Region Vice President Dave Pearl, The Cisco Companies.

2017 ASTA Annual Meeting Flickr album

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Learning Innovation from the Seed at #ASTAannual

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Stan Abramson of Arent Fox LLP, Law Firm spoke with members of the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) about promoting agriculture innovations in Washington D.C.

We can learn a lot about innovation from the seeds themselves.  “Plants and seeds are natural innovators. They constantly reinvent themselves,” he told the audience. “A lot of innovation is just figuring out how nature operates and try to use those same techniques to improve agriculture, to put more food on the table for folks here and all around the world.”

The current administration offers different possibilities than in the past for promoting innovation. Trump appears to be friendly to the industry, and while he is constrained by the usual laws, rules, and procedures of any President, Abramson believes agriculture has a real opportunity. The key is to be strategic in what is asked for, he advised. Think of the long- and short-term implications of your asks and consider all the stakeholders who stand to benefit.

We are also at a point in history where people are beginning to see the advantages of technology like gene editing. There isn’t a single documented incident of harm from science-based farming and other countries are taking notice. They don’t want to lose out, but the U.S. needs to take a leading role, he asserts.

Listen to Cindy’s full interview with Abramson here:Interview with Stan Abramson, Arent Fox

2017 ASTA Annual Meeting Flickr album

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Clariant Ups R&D Support for Agriculture

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Clariant is excited to announce their new greenhouse at Clariant Innovation Center (CIC) opened earlier this week. The state-of-the-art greenhouse will offer R&D for crop protection and managment, along with yield-enhancement solutions.

The 400sqm greenhouse offers smart simulation of environmental conditions such as humidity, light, rainfall and temperature, creating a proper climate for testing to supplement Clariant’s existing laboratory testing facilities at the CIC. The aim is to reduce development time and speed-to- market for advances in the niche growth areas of Plant Growth Regulators, Foliar Fertilizers and Bio-herbicides. These have been identified as focus areas to Clariant for successfully addressing current customer-specific needs and future global food demands.

“The new Crop Solutions greenhouse creates the perfect environment for fostering joint development in the areas we see as having most potential for delivering sustainable crop protection and, in the bigger picture, addressing the world’s increasing nutrition requirements,” said Britta Fünfstück, Member of Clariant’s Executive Committee. “It’s a level of support that sets us apart within our industry and we are excited at the prospect of contributing even more closely to the innovations of tomorrow.”

The new facility reinforces Clariant’s focus on sustainability and puts the company in a stronger position to provide answers going forward. Keep watching for unique solutions to come.

Agribusiness, AgWired Precision, Clariant, Crop Protection

Enogen Presents American Ethanol Race in Iowa

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Coming up tomorrow at the Iowa Speedway, Enogen presents the NASCAR XFINITY Series American Ethanol E15 250 for the fifth year.

Ron Wulfkuhle is excited to be attended the race for the first time as head of Enogen at Syngenta. “We’ll have about 1200 corn farmers attending as our guests and also we’ll be working with the FFA,” said Wulfuhle. “They’ll be doing a fundraiser at the race and just to make it interesting we’ve agreed to match whatever they raise.”

At the Fuel Ethanol Workshop in Minneapolis this week, Wulfuhle was spreading the word about the winning combination of Cellerate™ process technology and Enogen corn for ethanol plants and corn farmers by getting more ethanol from the same kernel of corn.

Learn more about Cellerate, Enogen, and the race in this interview and watch for photos and stories from the race where our Jamie Johansen will be this weekend.
Interview with Ron Wulfkuhle, Enogen

2017 Fuel Ethanol Workshop Photos

Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by

Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by Syngenta Enogen

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Precision Ag Bytes 6/22

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