Seed World

One-on-one With New AOSCA President, Billy Skaggs

At the 2023 AOSCA Annual Meeting in Bloomington, Minn. (June 4-7), newly elected AOSCA president Billy Skaggs sat down with Aiden Brook, director of partner development at Seed World Group, to talk about certified peanuts, changes in Georgia’s seed industry and what he’s most excited about in his new role as head of AOSCA.

The certification program manager at Georgia Crop Improvement Association Inc., Skaggs is a keen advocate for certified seed. He said seed certification is important primarily because it ensures that the farmer actually gets what they think they’re buying.

“If you’re buying, you know, Georgia-06G peanut…, whatever the commodity, if you buy certified seed, you can rest assured that that product is what it’s supposed to be. It’s genetically pure, it’s free of noxious weeds, it’s free of inseparable weeds, it’s laboratory tested. You’re getting what you pay for. Will you pay a little bit more for it? Probably so, but I think the value there far outweighs the extra cost.”

The downside risk attached to non-certified seed is simply not worth the small monetary savings of reusing one’s home-saved seed, he added.

“The best example I can give is on peanuts because that’s so much of what we do. Peanuts, being an oilseed crop — if [they are] not stored properly with proper moisture, proper temperature and proper airflow on that seed, those seeds can go bad very quickly. Peanuts are not forgiving at all. The majority of the varieties in the southeast when it comes to runner peanuts are PVP protected (Plant Variety Protection Act protected) so a farmer can save enough for his or her own use for the next year. But what we’ve seen over the years is farmers that try to do that… the seed quality is just not there. Germination goes. When you put that seed in that warehouse or in that wagon, that’s as good as the germination will ever be. So, depending on how you store it, it’s only going down.”

Skaggs said he’s excited to take on the AOSCA presidency, adding that his number one priority is to get connected to members.

“I am most excited to get out and meet our members…. My goal in being AOSCA president is to serve our members. That’s first and foremost. We have had kind of a lot of retirements; we’ve got a lot of new people. We have a lot of younger people or younger professionals that we need to bring up to speed on what AOSCA does so they know how we can help them, and also try to get the younger, early career folks involved in AOSCA. That fresh blood, those new perspectives that’ll be a great thing for AOSCA so I look forward to that.”

Congratulations to Billy Skaggs for taking on the AOSCA presidency! To hear the entire conversation with Skaggs, watch this Giant Views video.