I am heading to Chicago for the 68th annual Corn and Sorghum Seed Research Conference/43rd Soybean Seed Research Conference on Monday where I will be joined by Leah Guffey to bring you coverage of this important meeting “where seed business gets done.” Thanks to ASTA and BASF Crop Protection for sponsoring our coverage. BASF will be will be discussing their seed solutions profile today since they officially announced their plans with Becker Underwood at this meeting last year.
The new portfolio is the result of combined breakthroughs from the BASF global research and development platform and Becker Underwood’s biological seed treatment, seed treatment colors and polymer technologies.
Andy says there will be a big focus at the meeting this year on seed treatment stewardship and a new guide available under the industry banner of Seed Treatment Matters. “We got together with CropLife American, and the major grower groups – National Corn Growers, American Soybean, National Cotton Council and American Farm Bureau Federation – to talk about the adoption of new technologies we’ve seen on seed,” he said. “We want to make sure that technology is properly stewarded.”
The guide developed by the groups is available at seed-treatment-guide.com and it will also be offered and discussed at 2014 grower meetings.
Wyffels Hybrids is running a new television campaign. The campaign was created by Musta/Melzer Advertising, Minneapolis; produced by O&H Brand Design, Dallas; directed by Liberal Media Films, Dallas; with edit and post by Charlie Uniform Tango, Dallas. There are four spots in the campaign which runs in midwestern corn belt markets.
Jeff Hartz, Marketing Director, Wyffels Hybrids, says, “Wyffels doesn’t have the market share and sheer distribution dominance to market the same way as our larger competitors. We start by talking to the customer differently. Everyone flatters the customer. Instead, we talk about what we believe in. And we try to do it in a very personal, clever and idealistic way. The personality is real and it provides a different experience than our customers can find with many of our competitors.”
Tim Musta, Art Director, Musta/Melzer, says, “These spots come right from the brand voice of our client. They needed to look and sound different. Because our client always says things that other people in the category can’t say, won’t say or both. And we wanted the spots to look like they were economically produced. Because they were.”
Bayer CropScience consistently focuses on the innovation of technology. During the 2013 Farm Progress Show their air-conditioned exhibit displayed their innovations no matter where you turned. Their On Demand Seed Treatment is one of those technologies where software, preloaded recipes and wireless communications accommodates all types of operations.
Kerry Grossweiler, SeedGrowth Equipment and Coatings Manager for Bayer CropScience, shared with Chuck what’s new with their On Demand Seed Treatment. Kerry described the new technology as “the future in digital farming.”
“The On Demand system is a fully automated closed system developed to treat seeds correctly and consistently, resulting in healthier plant establishment. This is really important because when you look into the past with inoculants and fungicides being applied downstream the older technology and early treaters were sufficient, but now with the new products on the marketplace, everything is going to a per seed application basis. On Demand really fits the need because we have taken our commercial equipment that is used by the seed companies to treat corn and we’ve scaled it down to be able to provide this to downstream treating for ag retailers and seed dealers.”
Maximizing field yield is the goal of every grower, but is easier said than done. However, Monsanto’sFieldScripts program might be the answer. During the 2013 Farm Progress Show, Monsanto invited the media out to field to discuss the new opportunity and talk with FieldScripts Ground Breaker Growers.
Dale Sorensen, Integrated Farming Systems Field Research Lead, shared with the group the basics of what FieldScripts can offer in terms of precise seed placement and seeding rates. And how genetic and environmental components come into play.
“In 2013 we had our ground breakers program for FieldScripts. We had 150 growers from Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota. Those 150 growers had three to five fields on average. They basically shared the field boundaries, prior yield history and soil test results. And then we developed what we call out FieldScripts Management Zones and created a variable rate seeding zone within that field with the genetics that the dealer and grower had chosen.”
GRAINCO FS dealer, John Walsh, was also on hand to share his insights from the dealer perspective. John went through the steps to become FieldScripts certified to add specific value to his customers.
“It’s not a dealership certification. Each individual gets certified. My main job is with the seed portion and this was going to differentiate us from a lot of other seed dealers. You can buy that same bag of seed at several different places. We try every year to come up with something to add value to our dealership.”
I also took the opportunity to talk with one of John’s growers, Doug and Justin Durdan. The father and son team farm about 100 miles from the Farm Progress Show location and shared why they jumped at the chance to increase yields with this new technology.
“We always just try and stay on top of new technologies and we thought that this was a good avenue for use to stay ahead.”
“The biggest benefit is putting the proper plants in the proper areas. We really felt we were over populating our lighter soil, which we were. Now we feel we can get a better averaged yield.”
GROWMARK, along with FS had a strong presence at the recent Farm Progress Show in Decatur, IL. No matter where you went it was hard to escape the view of an FS flag waving high in the sky. Not only were they again sponsors of fuel used throughout the grounds, but they also gave a hands-on view of all the companies product divisions.
On the coolest day of the Farm Progress Show I visited the FS booth and spoke with Jenny Haycraft, who works in marketing and communications for the company. She shared what attendees were able to take in during the event and how FS is a full line service provider on the farm. This includes needs in energy, lubricants, propane, agronomy, seed and in precision farming.
“Throughout the exhibit we have designated areas for primary product divisions. We’ve got agronomy, seed, grain systems and energy. There are interactive games for attendees to play and learn a little bit about our products and services we offer in each area. And then once they play the game we can interact with them as much as possible and see if they are current customers or potential prospects.”
Seeds are the foundation of any growers operation. Bayer Crop Science’s SeedGrowth team has fined tuned the four key competencies of product, equipment, coating and services to maintain sustainable seed development globally.
Attendees who visited the Bayer tent during the 2013 Farm Progress not only took in all the science behind growing crops, but also did it while relaxing in the A/C.
SeedGrowth Strategic Business Lead for Bayer, Brad May, talked seeds with me in the Bayer tent after the roundtable media luncheon. Changes are taking place throughout the agriculture industry and I asked Brad how Bayer is addressing them and how they are looking into the future of crop science.
The 130th ASTA annual meeting gave attendees an opportunity to receive an update on the progress of the Accord initiative that is a joint effort of ASTA with the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). “The Accord is an industry-led framework that is meant to address situations when biotech events go off patent and how we maintain the regulatory approvals worldwide for those events,” Bernice Slutsky, Senior Vice President for Domestic and International Policy for ASTA, said. Accord includes two major agreements, the Generic Event Marketability and Access Agreement (GEMAA) and the Data Use and Compensation Agreement (DUCA).
The update provided at ASTA’s annual meeting informed ASTA members that the GEMAA had been completed and open for signatures and currently has 10 signatures. The DUCA is scheduled to be completed and opened by the end of the year. “The DUCA is a larger agreement. It is meant to address some of the more complicated regulatory issues associated with stacked products,” Slutsky said.
According to Slutsky, the framework will hopefully ensure that farmers and stakeholders will be able to continue to trade their products uninterrupted as the biotechnology events go off patent.
The American Seed Trade Association introduced their new seed advocate program at the 130th ASTA annual meeting. The intention of the program is to help grow grassroots leadership to communicate with policy makers about the seed industry. “We will provide them with the information and tools they need so they can continue that interaction with their government employees for positive policy for the seed industry,” Pat Miller, Director of State Affairs for ASTA, said.
Miller said the main issue that they are looking at advocating currently is favorable labeling laws for genetically modified seeds. He said that ASTA also monitors policies that affect taxes and regulations of the seed industry. Members of the seed advocate program would receive information from ASTA on issues like these to be able to engage their local policy makers in conversations about them.
According to Miller, anyone interested in the seed industry can be a seed advocate. People involved in advocacy currently range from large corporation representatives to location managers. If you are interested in more information about the program or would like to get involved, click here.
Risa DeMasi was elected as the second Vice Chair of ASTA at the 130th ASTA annual meeting. This election is marks a memorable moment for ASTA as DeMasi is the first woman to be elected an officer. She will serve a three year term in which she serves as the second Vice Chair in 2013-2014, the first Vice Chair in 2014-2015 and the Chair in 2015-2016.
As a member of the officer team, DeMasi hopes to focus on creating open and effective dialogue across the diversity of the seed industry. “I’m really looking forward to facilitating more conversations on behalf of my sector,” DeMasi said.
DeMasi is on the sales team at Grassland Oregon, which specializes in turf grasses, forage grasses and cover crops.
The Future Seed Executives (FuSE) program was initiated as a branch of the ASTA Management Skills Committee in 2004. According to Liz Pestow, immediate past chairman of the FuSE initiative, “The focus of FuSE is to provide educational and networking opportunities to those in the industry with seven years or less experience,” Pestow said. Members involved in FuSE range from those who have recently graduated college to supporters and mentors for the program that are upper executives, CEOs and presidents of companies.
The Campus Connections program, the college student branch FuSE, was present at the ASTA annual meeting. Students in their junior year of college have the chance to apply for a scholarship to attend the ASTA national meeting. While at the convention, they are mentored by executives attending the meeting for their companies. They sit in on many sessions and committee meetings to get a real world perspective of the seed industry.
Pestow was a product of the FuSE program. Her background is marketing in the automotive industry. She got involved in FuSE in 2007. She said that it gave her an opportunity to really learn about the industry and especially to network with colleagues.
Challenges facing the seed industry were the topic of discussion at Tuesday morning’s general session at the 130th ASTA annual meeting. The state of agribusiness panel was composed of Ross Harvey from AdFarm, Blake Sieker managing partner at The Context Network and Kevin Ferguson farm management extension area specialist with the University of Tennessee. The panel was moderated by Lowell Catlett, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Home Economics at New Mexico State University.
Harvey opened the panel by discussing issues facing seed companies related to marketing. He mentioned three major areas that the seed industry must address related to marketing including the impact of producer consolidation, the human talent challenge and data driven decision making. Harvey also talked about marketing execution and management issues. “Use fewer tactics and don’t do some things and stay the course,” Harvey said. “Annual planning cycles don’t mean we have to reinvent our marketing initiatives every year.” According to Harvey, great marketing groups are disciplined, consistent, and are great at execution.
Listen to Harvey’s remarks here: Ross Harvey
The focus of Sieker’s comments was the status and future dynamics of corn and soybeans. He discussed the evolution of the business, industry trends and drivers and key characteristics that will keep the agriculture sector strong. According to Sieker those keys were “managing volatility, keeping pace with velocity and creating and providing value.”
Listen to Sieker’s comments here: Blake Sieker
Ferguson rounded out the panel by talking to attendees about the challenges that the American farmer faces in the changing industry. He discussed the change over that is occurring especially related to the transition of resources and management from one generation to the next. Additionally, Ferguson spoke on the challenge farms have to plan during profitable times. “Planning during the good times is often much more successful than planning during the bad times,” Ferguson said.
Listen to Ferguson’s presentation here: Kevin Ferguson
I also caught up with Ferguson after the panel and you can listen to my interview with him here: Ferguson Interview
Andy LaVigne, ASTA President and CEO, opened the ASTA 130th annual meeting by welcoming everyone to Nashville and taking a look at what attendees would hear about and discuss over the next two days. His opening remarks surrounded the evolution of the seed industry. LaVigne said the seed industry has a great opportunity to bring its message to the world, and it comes with the responsibility to feed the world.
LaVigne said participants could look forward to hearing more about advocating their industry and their strategic plan to do so. “You will see our focus in the future in our strategic plan is intellectual property,” LaVigne said. “It’s a responsibility to tell a story.”
He concluded his comments by saying, “Your association’s in great shape, and it’s because of you.”
Kelly Keithly was awarded the Honorary Lifetime Member award at the ASTA 130th annual meeting. Keithly is the president of Keithly-Williams Seeds (KWS). He has been involved in the seed business since he graduated from college. Keithly began the company in 1981 with his partner, Walt Williams, and two employees, and it has since expanded to 150 employees and in 18 western states and more than three-quarters of Mexico. KWS is now the largest seed dealer in North America with over $110 million in sales.
As a member of ASTA, Keithly has served as the 2008-2009 ASTA Chairman, a Director-at-Large and the Western Regional Vice President. He got involved with ASTA and had the opportunity to meet many of his suppliers and people in the industry. He said he also had the opportunity to learn about seed beyond vegetables. “The future for the organization is great because the staff and the people involved will continue to figure out how to meet those needs and changes and be a part of them,” Keithly said.
The current and incoming chairmen of the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) are pleased with the state of the industry and looking forward to a bright future.
Blake Curtis, Curtis & Curtis, has served as the chairman of the organization for the past year, which he says has gone by very quickly. “It has been a year of successes,” he said. “A number of things our past chairman put into effect we’ve been able to finish up this year – the strategic plan, intellectual property rights protection bureau – these are on-going projects that we’ve been able to bring to fruition and implement.”
Newly-elected chairman Craig Newman, president and CEO of AgReliant Genetics, is especially excited about the future of the industry and ASTA’s Future Seed Executives (FuSE) program. “I’m one of the mentors of one of the students and actually our company has already hired three of that group already,” he said.
Nashville has been a great venue in the heartland for the convention and both Craig and Blake are really looking forward to racing into the future for next year’s convention in Indianapolis.
The 130th American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) annual meeting opened today with a look into the future of the seed industry provided by Dr. Lowell Catlett, the Dean of the College of Agriculture and Home Economics at New Mexico State University. Catlett is a self-professed “weirdo” who provided his perspective on what it takes to look to the future with optimism and to be prepared to face the challenges of a growing world.
Catlett painted a picture of a world that is searching for ways to live longer and more fruitfully. He pointed to agriculture as a wonderful place to be for this development. “You want to have healthy people you can’t separate them from plants and animals and people,” Catlett said. He emphasized that agriculture has the plants and the animals and the people the world needs to stay healthy. Many times throughout his presentation, Catlett called today the “golden age of agriculture” and challenged those in the room to embrace it and keep moving forward.
The opening reception for the 130th American Seed Trade Association annual convention was held at the Grand Ole Opry and the entertainment was provided by an up-and-coming country artist who is now starting to get so popular that he is having less time for his job as a Syngenta Seeds sales rep. Not coincidentally, the reception was sponsored by Syngenta Seeds.
He grew up on a dairy farm, studied Ag Econ at Purdue, and worked as an intern with Golden Harvest prior to its purchase by Syngenta Seeds, but he always loved music. “I sang with the Purdue Varsity Glee Club and I just had a passion for country music,” which Levi said led him to put a band together and start singing at county fairs.
Last night was the first time that Levi, with his sister Lauren and brother-in-law, played the Grand Ole Opry but with songs like “Born to Farm” it probably won’t be the last! “Corn and beans, green and red machines, he was born to farm!”
The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) is holding its 130th annual convention in Nashville, Tennessee this week and it goes without saying that the organization is facing issues today that members at that first meeting never even dreamed about.
“It’s really exciting when we look at 130 years of all the issues that impact the seed industry and how the industry has changed just over the last 10-15 years, let alone 130,” said ASTA President and CEO Andy LaVigne.
Today the big issues for the industry include dealing with new breeding methods, handling of seed treatment, and advocating for the seed industry on the local, national and even international level.
On the national front, Andy says they are kicking off a new seed industry advocacy program to help members become more involved in legislation and regulatory issues; and on the international front they are continuing to make progress on what is know as “The Accord” – an industry-wide effort to address the opportunities and the challenges associated with biotechnology patent expiration. “The whole program will be up and running by the end of this year and the opportunity for generic products to come into the marketplace or be stacked will be there,” said Andy, just in time for the first commercial biotech event to come off patent.
What better place is there than Nashville to celebrate 130 years of the seed industry’s strong roots while charting a path for the progress and innovation of our present and future?
I am heading to the 130th American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) annual meeting at the Gaylord Opryland and joining me will be AgWired summer intern Maggie Seiler. Among the events we will be covering for you at ASTA will be an address by nationally known agriculture economist Lowell Catlett, who will kick off the convention on Monday morning, followed on Tuesday by a State of Agribusiness panel discussion. There will be lots of focus on trends, challenges and opportunities, here and abroad, facing seed companies, large and small, over the coming year.
Breakout sessions will feature up-to-date reports on intellectual property rights, phytosanitary issues, food safety and seed stewardship and more. In addition, ASTA will also hold its annual elections and welcome in new leadership for the coming year.
Stay tuned to AgWired for full coverage and all audio and photos will also be posted on AgNewsWire.
The first product from Syngenta’s acquisition of Pasteuria Bioscience, Clariva, has been launched and will be available in the U.S. next year. Syngenta announced today the launch of CLARIVA™, a proprietary seed treatment nematicide based on the Pasteuria technology acquired in 2012.
CLARIVA consists of naturally occurring soil bacteria with a unique, direct mode of action on nematodes: microscopic worm-shaped soil organisms, which cause significant damage to all major agricultural crops.
CLARIVA will be available in the USA for the 2014 growing season. It will be combined with other leading Syngenta seed care compounds as a complete solution for soybeans. Further registrations across major crops worldwide are planned.
“Roswell Garst’s commitment to customers – to be a trusted advisor in addition to a seed dealer – is the very essence of what the Syngenta Seed Advisor network embodies,” said Lori Thomas, customer marketing manager for the dealer channel commercial unit for Syngenta in North America. “Even though the Garst name won’t have the same market presence, the integrity, tradition and history of the company will continue to live on.” Thomas and her husband, Mike, were Garst Seed Advisors for 10 years.
Founded as Garst & Thomas Hi-Bred Corn Company in 1930, the Garst brand has a rich history of bringing many innovative corn solutions to market, from developing herbicide-tolerant hybrids, including the first IMI-corn, to offering European Corn Borer (Bt) control and herbicide tolerance together in one corn hybrid, to transcending borders and taking the new technology to farmers in other countries, including the former Soviet Union.
Since Syngenta acquired the Garst brand in 2004, the company has focused on building a diverse genetic portfolio, using the genetics from the Garst, Golden Harvest and NK® brand breeding programs and incorporating the market-leading line-up of Agrisure® traits. Earlier this year, Syngenta announced the decision to rebrand the existing Garst and Golden Harvest corn seed brands and launch a unified Golden Harvest brand stemmed from ongoing efforts to strengthen and grow the network of Syngenta Seed Advisors.
A new logo and numbering system for Golden Harvest hybrids will be in place for summer 2013 trials and the 2014 planting season. “The new logo brings elements from the Garst legacy as well as the Golden Harvest legacy,” Lori says, stressing that growers who have counted on Garst seed to maximize their yields will still have access to the same high-quality genetics under the Golden Harvest name through their Syngenta Seed Advisor.