All sectors of the seed industry convened for the American Seed Trade Association’s 128th Annual Convention June 18-22, in Huntington Beach, Calif., to create solutions and shape policy, paving the road ahead.

“Today, we face tremendous challenges,” says John Nelsen, ASTA chairman and president and chief executive officer of RiceTec, Inc. “These challenges are technical, complex and mind-boggling, but they are of utmost importance because they affect you and me and generations to come.”

Increasing hunger, a shrinking land base, fewer renewable resources, an increasing global population, patent expiration and coexistence are all issues on Nelsen’s list. These are the challenges that drive business decisions, he says.

The Alvin, Texas, chairman says ASTA is working on many fronts to help find solutions to these very complex issues.

He told attendees that ASTA, through its First-the Seed Foundation, is working to educate today’s youth and tomorrow’s consumer about the importance of the seed industry and the role technology has to play.

“ASTA encourages innovation and technology and facilitates the movement of seed at the state, national and international levels,” Nelsen says. “At the state and national levels ASTA works to build and maintain relationships, while monitoring and influencing policy that could potentially help or hinder the seed industry. This allows you to conduct business as usual without undue burden.”

This year alone, he says ASTA conducted 150 congressional visits and monitored 65 bills that would have had a direct impact on the seed industry.

“The seed industry knows that coexistence is not only feasible, but has been successfully practicing it for decades,” Nelsen says. “ASTA’s Executive Committee met with U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, listened to his concerns and discussed ASTA’s role in helping the agricultural industry move forward on this issue.”

He highlights that ASTA and the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) developed a set of principles, which will be distributed to Vilsack and USDA; updated the Guide to Seed Quality Management to include coexistence language; and wrote a white paper on current industry practices.