Seed World

ASTA Announces 2020 Leadership Team, National Award Winners

The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) is pleased to recognize its new leadership team and 2020 industry award winners, announced earlier today during the association’s “PLDC Virtual” Annual Meeting. Members of the FY2020-21 ASTA officer team officially taking office on July 1 are:

  • Chair: John Latham, Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, Alexander, IA
  • First Vice Chair: Brad May, BASF, Research Triangle Park, NC
  • Second Vice Chair: Jim Schweigert, Gro Alliance, LLC, Cuba City, WI

Additionally, Dan Foor, La Crosse Seed, has been elected to serve as the new vice president, Central Region. Taking over as Chair for Wayne Gale of Stokes Seeds, John Latham, president of Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, grew up in the seed business. His grandparents started Latham Seeds in 1947 as an oats company. Today, Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, located in North Central Iowa, offers a full lineup of corn, soybean, alfalfa and cover crop products. John is president; his wife, Shannon, is vice president; and John’s brother, Chris, is the Chief Financial Officer. John has a long history of service with ASTA, having previously held positions as vice chair, North Central Region Vice President, and Chairman of Seed First Political Action Committee. He also has served as chairman of the ASTA’s Corn & Sorghum Division and Legislative and Legal Affairs Committee. John also follows his father Bill Latham who was President of ASTA in 1998.

“On behalf of all of ASTA’s members and the global seed industry, I want to thank Wayne Gale for his tireless leadership over the past, highly unprecedented, year,” said Latham. “As many of you know, my family has a long and rich history of involvement with this association, and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to continue the tradition of service in this leadership role. Our industry, not unlike so many others, is certainly in the midst of challenging times, and I do not take this new role lightly. However, I know that this great industry, as we’ve always done in the past, will continue to rise to the occasion and find new, innovative solutions to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.”

Also, during today’s session, ASTA announced winners of its prestigious Distinguished Service and Honorary Lifetime Member Annual Awards.

2020 ASTA Distinguished Service Award: ASTA’s Distinguished Service Award recognizes an individual or individuals who made an outstanding contribution to our industry throughout the year. The 2020 award was presented to two worthy individuals:

Mary Smith, Arkansas State Plant Board: Serving as the Arkansas State Seed Division Director and Seed Control Official since 1990, Mary is retiring this year after her long years of dedicated service during which she made significant contributions to the seed industry.

Wayne Parrott, University of Georgia: Wayne has been a tireless advocate in efforts to reach the public, elected and regulatory communities to address evolving plant breeding methods, including testifying before Congress and serving in a recent Plant Breeding Innovation session for federal regulators in Washington, D.C.

2020 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:

Tom Moore, HM. CLAUSE: Tom is retiring this year, after having served the seed industry for 24 years. He has been a consistent leader within ASTA, participating on numerous committees including the Phytosanitary Committee, the International Executive Committee and the Emerging Diseases Committee. He also served as ASTA representative to the International Seed Federation Phytosanitary Committee.

Bernice Slutsky, ASTA: Having served on the ASTA staff for the past 15 years, senior vice president for Innovation Bernice Slutsky is entering retirement. The coordination and focus that Bernice brought to the association enhanced ASTA’s strong leadership role in furthering policy around emerging and evolving plant breeding innovation; intellectual property rights policies regarding plant genetic resources; and international trade and policy. Prior to joining ASTA, Bernice held positions within the USDA Office of the Secretary, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers (PhRMA) and the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.