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Agrimarketing : American Seed Trade Association
PAST-PRESENT-FUTURE/continued frompage 15 ation in driving innovation through seed tomeet the needs of agriculture. Agriculture has a great story to tell, and seed plays a leading role so critical to the success of agricultural production.Weneed to respond to the needs of the grower and the con- sumer and to address the challenges that hamper progress in reaping the opportunities seed has to offer. There aremany known issues with the potential to impact seed businesses on a daily basis. ASTA, because of its staff and leadership, is tremendously well positioned to represent the interests of the seed industry andwork for us, itsmembers, on all issues that lay ahead—both the known and the unknown. As agriculture continues to Keithly evolve rapidly,ASTA’s ability to keep a finger on the pulse of these developments both domestically and internationallywill serve each of its members and the seed industry as a whole. Because ofmy experience withASTAandwhat it hasmeant to my business, I can attest toASTA’s ability tomanage these various issues and advocate solutions that enable the seed industry to grow. Where domestic and interna- tional issues intersect iswhere you can findASTAworking hardest for you. The complex network of the global seedmarket has created even more challenges of themany phytosanitary requirements for import, export and the evenmore complicated re-export issue. Addressing phytosanitary regu- lations is just one of themany issues ASTA’s staff andmembership volun- teers are addressing. Policies and regulations set forth by the federal, state and foreign gov- ernments, such as intellectual prop- erty rights, preemption, sustainabil- ity, stewardship and labor all impact theway the seed industry operates, meets the growing needs of today and enables innovation tomeet the demands of tomorrow. ASTAis our association, the association of the seed industry, bringing together the broad inter- ests of our industry and driving the change needed tomake all of us more efficient in deliveringwhat the customer needs.Weall benefit from being involved inASTA—well positioned to represent our inter- ests, lead the industry,bring solu- tions to the problemswe face and identify the opportunities yet to be discovered. HOWTHE SEED BUSINESS HAS CHANGED FROMA REGIONAL, INDEPENDENT COMPANY’S VIEW by Sonny Beck, CEO/President Beck’s Superior Hybrids, Inc. 2002 ASTAChairman The seed industry has changed over the years just like every other indus- try does as itmatures in a capitalistic society. My dad could name 80 car com- panieswhen that industry started. Howmany can you name today? Our capitalistic systemtries to nar- rowthe players down to a half dozen or so in any given market. That doesn’t always mean therewill only be six total players nation- wide, because it canmean there will be (in a given market) three national brands, two regional brands and a local brand allwith enoughmarket share to be sustainable. Our seed industry grewvery Beck fast starting in the late 1930s and 1940s because land grant universi- tieswere broadly distributing this newtechnology called “hybrid corn” free to farmerswho simply asked for it.My dad and grandfa- therwere two of hundreds of farm- erswho became small seed compa- nies in the Corn Belt. Whywas it free? The land grant collegeswere part of theMorrillAct of 1862whose public goalwas to use publicmoney to build agriculture (the food system) inAmerica quickly so thatmost peoplewould have inex- pensive food and could spend their 16 AgriMarketing s American Seed Trade Association Supplement time and energy developing other industries in our country. The seed industry is nowmature and thatmeans therewill be less and less free public research. Once there is no longer public research for an industry then private companies take over and private research is funded in the early stages by venture capital and eventually by patents and royalties. This is the stage the seed indus- try is in today.For seed companies to survive going into the future, they must be good at developing new seed traits and newgermplasm, or better atmarketing traits and germplasmthan their competitors. MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS by DavidMorgan Head of NAFTACorn&Soybeans Syngenta Seeds, Inc. In 1997, USDAdata showed U.S. corn and soybean seed sales dominated by six firms: Pioneer, Monsanto,Novartis,Dow/ Mycogen,GoldenHarvest and AgrEvo/Cargill. Today, that number has been trimmed in half.Monsanto’s 1997 and 1998 acquisitions of Asgrowand Dekalbwere followed by a host of regional seed company acquisitions. Novartis, amerger of Ciba and Sandozwhich owned Ciba Seeds and Northrup King, joinedwith Zeneca in the spinoff of their ag businesses in 2000 to form Syngenta. Syngenta then acquired amajority interest in GoldenHarvest andGarst in 2004. In 1999,DuPont acquired Pioneer to round out today’s “top three.” This changing landscape has Morgan played a critical role in helping growers gain access to newtechnolo- gies. The past decade has seen seed companies looking tomergers and acquisitions to help fund the increas- ingly high cost of biotechnology research and development. In return, these larger companies have brought more resources to bear in helping
November December 2008