Seed World

David Armstrong Takes Over as ASTA Chair

David Armstrong and Jim Schweigert at the Leadership Summit closing reception. Photo: ASTA

On June 13 at the closing reception of the American Seed Trade Association’s (ASTA) Leadership Summit, Jim Schweigert concluded the meeting and passed off the ASTA chairmanship to David Armstrong of Sakata Seeds.

Schweigert, president of Gro Alliance, thanked the team at Gro Alliance, the team at ASTA, his parents and his wife, Jen Schweigert, for the support that allowed him to work with ASTA over the last year. Since he first joined the ASTA board in 2009, Schweigert reflects that the industry has changed tremendously.

“The change in agriculture and in the seed industry we’ve seen over the last 14 years has been remarkable. We’ve seen increased diversity of GMO development and the emergence of gene editing in seed and seed enhancements as well,” he said during the reception. “We’ve gone from farming for yield and weight to farming for green characteristics and improved output. These changes have definitely created some challenges, but even more opportunities.

“We need to grow more and on less land, produce more output with less input and be more stable in an increasingly unstable world,” Schweigert continues. “The task is enormous, and even overwhelming at times. But it’s our calling and it’s what we’re meant to do. Thank you for the trust you placed in me this last year as chair — it was truly the honor of a lifetime.”

ASTA presented Schweigert with an ASTA past chair lapel pin as well as a flag, which was flown over the U.S. Capitol in honor of his year as chair, as well as his birthday by the request of Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.

For the 2023-2024 year, David Armstrong, president and CEO of Sakata America Holding Company, will take over as chair, with DLF North America’s Dan Foor as first vice chair and Syngenta’s Dave Treinen as second vice chair.

“My role over the next year is going to be to continue to help ask to deliver on his strategic plan and our seven pillars to help ASTA achieve its vision to create an environment in which each of our staff members has the opportunity to create a business that is sustainable, innovative and successful,” Armstrong said. “I believe strongly that for agriculture to be more relevant in society, agricultural leadership generally needs to look a bit more like America’s modern, complex society — that goes for ASTA as well.”

Armstrong hopes to focus on one major theme in his year as chair: diversity.

“We like to say first the seed and say that seed is the beginning of everything,” he says. “I think of bringing that same spirit to diversity… I look forward to a future where diversity is reflected.”