Seed World

ASTA’s Andy LaVigne to Open Seeds Canada’s Annual Meeting in Edmonton

Andy LaVigne

Editor’s Note: Registration is still open for the the Seeds Canada annual meeting! Register via the Seeds Canada website.

Seeds Canada’s annual meeting in Edmonton, Alta., taking place July 8-10 will be opened by a special guest who’s helped to take the American seed trade to new heights.

While advocating for change and implementing new initiatives can greatly benefit the industry, it is not always easy, American Seed Trade Association CEO Andy LaVigne told Seed World Canada‘s Marc Zienkiewicz in 2022. Among the ongoing issues in the industry, whether they are regulatory issues, state issues or international issues, the hindrance of innovation is one of the greatest, according to the president and CEO of the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA).

“The biggest issue that we’re dealing with today is that the pace of innovation is outpacing the ability of the federal government to monitor it, develop policy or regulation and to ensure that they’re comfortable with it,” explained LaVigne.

“The further and further we get along with our plant breeding evolution, discovery and innovation, the slower the government gets. That starts to hinder our discovery and the ability to implement it. As we look at climate change, everyone says it is gradual. Well, government policy and understanding are even slower. That’s not good for innovation, especially as quickly as we need it. Especially as quickly as growth is expected.”

As a leader, push back is inevitable. It’s how someone handles the obstacles and challenges that are thrown at them that proves the kind of leader they truly are. For someone like LaVigne, his strength lies in getting the decision makers around the table to cooperate by prioritizing collaboration.

“You bring the people around the table who can help you find a solution. And you don’t start with what you disagree on. You start with what you agree on and what the goal is. It’s not about ASTA getting credit, it’s about the seed industry getting credit. It’s about the grower getting credit and having new products,” says LaVigne.

LaVigne was presented with the NAPB Friends of Plant Breeding Award in 2022 when he sat down with Seed World. This award honours people whose career may or may not have been involved in plant breeding, but who through their professional activities and passion have contributed significantly to the plant breeding discipline. The award acts as a testament to LaVigne’s leadership capabilities and power to bring the community together amidst similarities and differences.

LaVigne continues to champion change, highlighting the increasing issues across the world that he believes the industry can join forces to combat.

“What I love to talk about with this group is we have a responsibility as an industry. Yes, we sit here in the U.S., a very comfortable country, and are able to feed ourselves, but there are a lot of people in the world that can’t and rely on countries like the U.S. and Europe to find solutions to their issues,” he explains. “That’s where the plant breeding community comes in. When I talk about plant breeding, my passion is deeper than just seeds. That’s who pays the bills and who employs me, but it’s plant breeding. It’s the trees, vines, and bushes. It’s plant breeding, and how to get that discovery out there.”

In Edmonton, LaVigne will highlight the critical role of innovative research and practice in shaping a more sustainable and productive future, according to the agenda. Participants will be encouraged to rethink traditional approaches and embrace the transformative potential of seed innovation to build a better, more sustainable future for generations to come.