Seed World

Is Seed Relevant in Today’s Political Climate?

Gro Alliance

A third-generation seedsman, Jim Schweigert grew up in the family seed business and was exposed to industry issues at an early age. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in public relations from the University of Minnesota and worked for corporate public relations firms in Minneapolis, Chicago and Atlanta before joining the family business full time in 2003. He has since been active in the American Seed Trade Association, the Independent Professional Seed Association and earned his master’s in seed technology and business from Iowa State University. As president, Schweigert manages client contracts and crop planning, as well as business development and new market opportunities. His unique background and experience make him one of the seed industry’s leaders in innovation. As such, he was honored as Seed World’s 2009 Future Giant and currently serves as chair of the board of directors for Seed Programs International.

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Finding an interesting and engaging topic to write about each month can be quite a challenge. It requires me to take a step back from my day-to-day activities and think about the important elements of the seed industry in the context of the moment. (By the way, it’s actually a very rewarding practice that I encourage everyone to do more often!) 

I had planned to write about how flipping the calendar to a new year brings optimism to the general population, just like the spring brings optimism to farmers. It seemed like a good moment to fast forward a bit, to move our minds from the cold winter and think about a spring that will see millions of COVID-19 vaccines administered, warmer weather and longer days.

And then the events in Washington, DC unfolded. 

It got me thinking, does anyone want to read about seed right now? Aren’t there bigger issues to debate? I thought about this a lot. Even the water cooler talk is now about political rhetoric, decorum, social media and what happens next.

But the business of the seed industry is always relevant and constantly moving forward. The seasons advance without regard for the issues of the day, and we all have to be ready. Crops are growing in South America and the Southern US is a few weeks away from its first plantings; there isn’t time to be distracted. 

Yes. Our engagement with policymakers in DC must continue (and even be ramped up), but we also have an awesome responsibility to ensure the success of the nation’s food, feed, fuel and fiber supply. More than 330 million Americans are counting on us.

The optimism I planned to write about is still there. More people are receiving the vaccine every day, the days are getting longer, seed is being shipped to farmers and warm weather inches closer.

This is why we love the seed industry. The constant movement of the seasons pushes us through whatever challenges exist. We know that, above all else, the crop must be planted, maintained and harvested on time. It’s this continual cycle that allows us to all live in a state of constant, future optimism. Next year will be better and next year is right around the corner!

Farmers are said to be the most optimistic people on Earth. I believe it. I hope that optimism can spread across the country in 2021.