Elected officials who want to understand the seed industry need to contact Leslie Cahill, American Seed Trade Association vice president of government affairs. Leslie is in this photo of ASTA members meeting with Congressman Collin Peterson earlier this week. Leslie put together a great Storm the Hill program for members during a busy week that included a Senate passed Farm Bill. Talk about timing! It is the first time the organization has held its convention in Washington, DC since the early 1990′s.
To prepare ASTA members for their day on the Hill Leslie says they held an orientation session so they would know “what to expect, where to go, how to say it, when to say it and who to say it to.” The orientation walked through the issues important to the seed industry so members would be prepared to discuss them during private meetings with their local officials.
Since the Senate passed their version of a new farm bill I asked Leslie what ASTA thinks of it and what the organization needs in a farm bill. She says that all of the different titles in the farm bill affect the seed industry in some way. The organization had been concerned about some proposed language that would have required additional labeling for genetically enhanced foods. Fortunately that amendment did not pass. So sometimes its not what’s in the farm bill that is important but what gets left out. An important item that is included is what’s called the USDA’s Cooperator Program which is officially the Foreign Market Development Program. It’s a “lifeline” for ASTA members since the funding from that program assist companies with a variety of issues to more successfully market their products outside the United States.
Listen to my interview with Leslie here: Interview with Leslie Cahill