John Latham Elected to Seed Industry Leadership

From left to right: John Latham, Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, Wayne Gale, Stokes Seeds and Brad May, BASF

From left to right: John Latham, Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, Wayne Gale, Stokes Seeds and Brad May, BASF

The American Seed Trade Association’s (ASTA) newly-elected officer team was announced recently during ASTA’s Policy & Leadership Development. Members of the FY2019-20 ASTA officer team—officially taking office on July 1 are: Chair Wayne Gale, Stokes Seed; First Vice Chair John Latham, Latham Hi-Tech Seeds; and Second Vice Chair Brad May, BASF.

“To be nominated to ASTA leadership by these leaders is a true honor. I’ll take away from this experience life-long friends and memories,” says John Latham, who has served on the ASTA board of directors and its executive committee for the past seven years. (Click here to watch a short biographical video that was played last week when John was inducted as First Vice  Chair.) “It has been a great opportunity to get to know seed industry leaders from all sectors of the seed industry. I’ve been able to learn a great deal about the industry that I’ve been able to bring to our business.”

During the conference, June 15-19 in Denver, ASTA also announced winners of its prestigious annual awards: the Distinguished Service, Honorary Member plus a brand-new award called the the Better Seed, Better Life Ambassador Award.

2019 ASTA Distinguished Service Award: ASTA’s Distinguished Service Award recognizes an individual who made outstanding contributions to our industry throughout the year. The 2019 award was presented to Alan Galbreth, who has spent his entire 43-year career in the seed industry working for the Indiana Crop Improvement Association (ICIA), where he was appointed CEO In 2011. He serves on various committees within AOSA/SCST, AOSCA and ASTA, including as Chair of the former ASTA Seed Analyst Liaison Committee and more recently as Chair of the ASTA Seed Industry Relations Committee. He also represents ASTA on the international level as a liaison to the OECD Seed Schemes.

2019 ASTA Honorary Member Award: ASTA’s Honorary Member Award recognizes individuals who exemplify leadership, vision and service. This year’s award was bestowed upon two seed-industry professionals.

  • Blake Curtis, Curtis & Curtis, Inc.: In addition to serving as Senior Vice President of Management and Sales at his family seed business where he has worked since 1979, Curtis has held a number of volunteer leadership positions over the years. From 1986 to 1995, Curtis served as Caucus Chairman, then Minority Whip, and finally Minority Leader in the New Mexico State Legislature. He has been President of the New Mexico Seedsmen’s Association, a member of, and Chair of, the New Mexico State University Board of Regents, and held a variety of leadership positions with ASTA, including Chair from 2012-2013
  • John Duesing Corteva Agriscience: Duesing, whom ASTA Chair Jerry Flint described as a “road warrior and relentless advocate for ASTA and intellectual property protection for seed,” has been an active member of ASTA’s International Executive Committee for the past five years, and has been instrumental in shaping ASTA’s U.S. Plant Variety Protection (PVP) strategy and its involvement in UPOV policy and the International Seed Federation.

Better Seed, Better Life Ambassador Award: Lileen Coulloudon, Texas Foundation Seed Service, is the recipient of the first-ever ASTA award honoring an individual for exemplary advocacy on behalf of the seed industry. New to the seed industry, and a recent addition to ASTA’s Seed Ambassador Leadership Team (SALT), Coulloudon has demonstrated true leadership in advocacy by sharing the “Better Seed, Better Life” message online and within her community.

For photos from the conference, visit the PLDC Flickr album.

Founded in 1883, the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) represents over 700 companies involved in seed production, plant breeding and related industries in North America. ASTA is the leading voice of action in all matters concerning the development, marketing and movement of seed, associated products and services throughout the world. The association’s broad membership offers varieties from alfalfa to zucchini and all production types including conventional, organic and biotech. ASTA promotes the development of better seed to produce better crops for a better quality of life.

The American Seed Trade Association plays an important role in helping regulators and legislators understand issues that impact trade and our everyday business, adds John. That’s why he has made a point of “storming the hill” annually. During a visit to Capitol Hill this spring, John and other ASTA leaders discussed trade, plant breeding innovation and agricultural research with federal officials. Because sophisticated breeding programs allow the seed industry to help meet the need for a wide variety of nutritious and high quality products, while supporting sustainable agriculture practices that preserve our environment’s natural resource and biodiversity, industry representatives spend a great deal of time advocating for science.