ASTA First and Second Vice Chairs

Cindy Zimmerman

The new officer slate for the American Seed Trade Association includes first vice chair Risa DeMasi of Grassland Oregon and second vice chair Mark Herrmann with Monsanto’s vegetable seed division.

asta14-risaDeMasi has the distinction of being the first woman officer of ASTA and her company is very involved in the development of new cover crop species.

With her leadership, ASTA has started a cover crop working group. “Our whole focus is going to be on communication and collaboration,” Risa said, noting that the group includes representatives from conservation organizations and government as well as growers. “I think a lot of us are all trying to do the same things and it’s just a matter of putting the pieces together.”

Two counties in Risa’s home state of Oregon just voted overwhelmingly to ban the production of genetically modified crops, which she says shows how emotional the conversation has gotten. She believes using words such as new technology or advancements would be better than genetic modification or biotechnology. “We focus on GMO and it becomes this big, bad ugly monster,” she said. “Nobody wants to get rid of their cell phone, but if we hadn’t allowed that technology, where would we be today?”

Listen to my interview with Risa here: Interview with Risa DeMasi, ASTA First Vice Chair

asta-14-hermannMark Herrmann has been in the seed industry for the past 30 years, with DeKalb and then Monsanto, and he has been involved in ASTA for 20 of those 30 years. “I see it as an organization that doesn’t focus on companies, it focuses on what we can do as a group of people to make sure there are policies that help a healthy industry operate,” says Herrmann

Herrmann sees agriculture as fundamental for humanity “and seed is at the very root of agriculture, helping to drive that engine.” He looks forward to being a part of implementing ASTA’s strategic objectives in the years ahead as part of the organization’s officer team. Interview with Mark Herrmann, ASTA Second Vice Chair

ASTA Annual Meeting Photo Album

ASTA, Audio, Cover Crops, seed