This year’s Vegetable and Flower Seed Conference hosted by the American Seed Trade Association, (ASTA), the 53rd annual event of its kind, wrapped up in Monterey Tuesday, after a weekend packed with activities and business talks involving participants from 27 countries this year. Attendees span the spectrum of the seed industry segment dealing in specialty crops, and considering AgNet Media’s networks target farm audiences in the nation’s top specialty crop regions, including California and the Deep Southeast, we’ve collected some informative interviews to keep you abreast of critical changes, challenges, trends and outlooks in this vibrant segment of U. S. agriculture.
In this feature ASTA President Andy Lavigne reviews some of the issues faced by the seed industry – What’s driving increasing diversity in specialty crop seeds; Emerging issues facing the seed sector that farmers should be aware of; consumer impacts on seed science; Food Safety Modernization Act; Biotechnology and plant breeding; and the critical role of land grant universities in advancement of seed science.
Dr. Roberta Cook, Extension Marketing Economist at the University of California at Davis, is considered one of the nation’s preeminent scholars in marketing trends in specialty crops. Her keynote presentation packed the house, and in this exclusive AgNet Media interview, she shares many of the same comments involving fresh fruits and vegetables in particular. If you’re involved in specialty crops, this should be a must to hear.
Jane Demarchi is V. P. of Governmental and Regulatory Affairs for ASTA, based in Washington D. C. She discusses some key elements in the Farm Bill for the seed industry, since it finally passed out of Conference Committee while this ASTA conference was underway. She also discusses ASTA’s involvement in pollinator research and several other seed industry issues and initiatives important for seed professionals and farmers alike.
Betsy Peterson, Director of Technical Services for the California Seed Association, comments on how her California group group works closely with ASTA at the national level, and with in-state groups like the California Farm Bureau to help assure farmers get quality seed, and quality information about the seeds they are buying. California Seed Association will be holding its statewide meeting in mid-March in Santa Barbara.
A discussion on seed treatments and the environment featured Laurie Davies Adams, Executive Director of the Pollinator Partnership in San Francisco. Pollinator protection is a huge concern for agriculturists and consumers, and Adams tells us what her organization is doing to pull many diverse groups together to help find answers to the problems faced by pollinators worldwide.
Kristen Stevens, Chief Operating Officer with Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) based in Delaware, fields our questions from her display in the main hall at the conference. Stevens speaks to us about her message, explaining the critical links between her organization and the seed industry, and other agricultural segments as well. She also fills us in on the PBH annual meeting set for mid-March in Scottsdale, AZ.