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Agrimarketing : American Seed Trade Association
SEEDS PLANTED 125 YEARS AGO TIMELINEOFMAJORASTAAND SEEDINDUSTRYEVENTS 1883: FirstASTAconvention held inNewYorkCity. Majority of attendees involved in vegetable and flower seed. Locationwas the GilseyHouse— the first hotel in the city to offer telephone ser- vice to guests.Average U.S. corn yields are an estimated 30 bushels/acre. Soybeans are grown only in China, and sorghuminAfrica. 1885: ASTAadopts an official Constitution and a set of governing bylaws. Early 1900s: Vegetable and flower seed industry begins migrating fromnorthernNewYork state to California. 1907: Holds twenty-fifth anniversary convention in NewYork City.Raises annual dues to $10/mem- ber. Initiates programof naming “honorary members” recognizing individual’s outstanding service to the industry. WorldWar I (1917): Lobbies government to assure adequate supplies of paper, fuel and freight are available for its members. Fourteen owners, 46 sons and 621 employees are in the service.Helps create a uni- formseed lawthat all stateswere encouraged to adopt, eliminating the patchwork of regulations that had sprung up. 1920: Helps establish theNationalGarden Bureau— to encourage and educate home gardeners. 1921: First commercial double cross corn hybrid is released. 1924: First International Seed Congress held in London, leading to the founding of the Interna- tional Seed Trade Federation. Begins develop- ing rules that govern the international trade of seed. 1930: Plant PatentAct enacted, providing Intellectual Property Right protection to plant breeding. 1931: FarmSeed Association—a group representing field and grass seed—mergeswithASTA. 1935: 1%of the corn crop is plantedwith hybrids. 1936: Starts the “All-American Selections” label for flower and vegetable seeds deemed as superior by an impartial set of judges. 1940: Federal SeedAct goes into effect, regulating for- eign and interstate seed commerce and requiring accurate labeling. WorldWar II (1941): Creates its IndustryWar Committee to interface with government committeeswhich helps smooth 6 AgriMarketing s American Seed Trade Association Supplement industry relationswith government agencies, including theWar Food Administration, the Office of Administration and the USDA. 1941: James A. Young hired asASTAExecutive Sec’y —first full-time employee of the association. 1943: American ScientistOswald Avery discovers DNA, setting the stage for future genetic (and seed) research. PostWWII: G.I. Bill provides funds for home loans, creating what is nowknowas suburbia. Lawn and gar- den seed business booms, asAmericans beautify their properties and have the time to devote to it (workweek has dropped froman average of 80 hours in 1880 to 42 hours). 1946: ASTAcreates the inaugural “Corn & Sorghum Conference.” 1950s:As hybrid seed corn and sorghumwere being adopted, over 300 seed companies spring up, principally in theMidwest. 1951: ASTAadopts itsmotto that is still in use today: “First – The Seed.” 1955: First field of hybrid sorghumis planted. 1959: First soybeans developed by private seed com- panies launched into themarket. Previously,all soybean varieties had been developed by univer- sity-based plant breeders. 1960: ASTAofficesmoved fromChicago to Washington, D.C. Full-time staff numbers six. Ninety-five percent of the U.S. corn crop and 70%of sorghumis plantedwith hybrids. 1962: Upjohn acquires Asgrowmarking the first non- seed company to enter themarket. 1970: The Plant Variety ProtectionAct (PVPA), a bill protecting the rights of plant breeders is passed. ASTAestablishes its first international office, located in Brussels, to help stay abreast of inter- national trade regulations and legislation.Dr. Norman Borlaug awarded theNobel Peace Prize for hiswork in developing high-yielding “semi- dwarf”wheat seed, becoming known as the “Father of the Green Revolution.” Southern Leaf Blight ruins 20%of the U.S. corn crop. 1971: ASTAcreates the inaugural “Soybean Confer- ence.”Soviet Union’s imports of grain skyrocket, grain prices soar. (more on page 8)
November December 2008