Taking the Reins
Blake Curtis is a fourth generation New Mexican with long-standing ties to the seed industry. Curtis was raised on the same ranch his ancestors homesteaded in the early 1900s near Forest, New Mexico. He pursued training in language and multicultural preparation at the Universidad Interamericana in Mexico for a semester and also attended Eastern New Mexico State University where he completed his BBA degree.
Curtis, along with his brother, owns and operates Curtis & Curtis Inc., an independent seed company that provides a full line of sorghum products for the wholesale and retail market. The company also markets small grains including wheat, rye, barley, oats and triticale throughout the southwest United States and to overseas markets. CCI’s major emphasis continues to be on native grass seed and legumes for various applications such as seeding irrigated pastures, range reseeding and reclamation seeding. CCI also places heavy emphasis on turf seed for golf courses, home lawns and industrial sites.
In addition to his leadership of CCI, Curtis has served in various roles and positions of relevance to the seed industry. Most recently, he has served on the American Seed Trade Association’s board as first vice president. In June, Curtis will take over as chairman of ASTA for 2012/13. During his tenure as chairman, he plans to continue providing direction and value to ASTA’s membership.
“During my time as chairman, I would like to put more effort towards making sure all of our members are fulfilled and find value in their membership,” explains Curtis. “ASTA represents such diversity within the seed industry, which carries an enormous amount of weight when we come out with a position, but it can be challenging to make sure everyone feels knowledgeable about the issues.”
Curtis also plans to continue work positioning ASTA as a supplier of the most current information for the seed industry worldwide. “Another one of my goals is to help ASTA develop the reputation as the global go-to source of information regarding the exchange of seed, exchange of technology and production information,” says Curtis. “It’s this exchange [of information that] helps us meet world needs, whether it’s vegetable production, row crops or grasses.”
ASTA’s long-standing strategic direction is to be the voice of action concerning the development, marketing and movement of seed, associated products and services throughout the world, and Curtis plans to further emphasize this direction in the coming year.
“During the past year, we’ve reviewed the association’s strategic plan and reached out to the membership for their feedback regarding issues, activities, education and networking,” explains Curtis. “As chairman, I will continue our previous efforts with some tweaking and adjustments to make sure we’re staying on target as an organization.”
Curtis says he is looking forward to his role as the next chairman of ASTA and plans to keep his sights set high and ensure that every person and every issue is brought to the table.
“I’m honored to be in this position. It’s a great opportunity and I am excited to be able to bring a different perspective to the chairman’s position,” explains Curtis. “The previous chairmen—Mike Gumina, John Nelsen and Jerry Monk—have given me a great lineage of seedsmen to follow; they’ve set the bar awfully high and I have a lot to live up to. During my time as chairman I aspire to be involved and to bring a different perspective to the seed industry and make sure everyone feels like they are at the table.”
According to Andy LaVigne, ASTA president and CEO, the entire association is looking forward to the opportunity to work closely with Blake as he assumes his new role.
“Blake brings to the table a wealth of experience in agriculture and the seed industry particularly. In addition, his experience as a state legislator and member of the board of regents for New Mexico State University will prove invaluable to ASTA as we continue to drive the issues important to the U.S. seed industry,” says LaVigne. “He is well-respected by his peers, rooted in tradition and has an uncanny ability to articulate and work through challenging situations.”
Community Service at a Glance
Blake Curtis has an impressive list of community, social and cultural service roles to his name, and has been politically active during the course of his lifetime.
• He served as a New Mexico state legislator from 1986 through 1995, during which time he served as minority caucus chair, minority whip and minority leader.
• Following his service to the state legislature, he served on the New Mexico Fair Commission from 1995 to 2001.
• Curtis was selected as a member of the board of regents for New Mexico State University in 2006, and he has served as secretary, vice chair and chair over the duration of his tenure as a regent.
• He has also served as a board member and chair of the Clovis Curry County Balloon Fiesta Committee, and as president of Clovis Curry County Chamber of Commerce.
• Curtis has served as the president of the New Mexico State Seed Association and is currently serving under Gubernatorial appointment as a board member of the New Mexico Finance Authority.