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Agrimarketing : April 2009
: Independent Professional Seed Assoc SERVINGINDEPENDENTSEEDCOMPANIES Name: GregRuehle Title: CEO, IndependentProfessional Seed Association (IPSA) since 2005,Omaha,NE Career:NationalCattlemen’sAssociation, NebraskaCattlemen Association, American Shorthorn Association Education: B.S. in Agriculture from OklahomaStateUniversity AM:What areIPSA’smajoractivities? GR: IPSAwas formedin1989 topro- vide representationfor independently ownedandcontrolledseedcompanies withgenetic (andlater trait)providers andthroughcooperative research efforts. Since that time, IPSAhas added educationalprogramminginvarious business elements, andutilizesnumer- ous formats todelivereducational tools, includingWebinars andother electronicmediums. AM:Howmany companies belong? What areitsmembershiprequirements? GR: IPSAhas three classes ofmem- bership:Regular (seed company) members,Associatemembers and a newAffiliatemembership category. The yearly dues run fromJune throughMay,and the costs for seed companymemberships range from $1,000 to $2,500 based on the com- pany’s annual sales. Regularmem- bersmust be closely-held seed pro- duction and/or retail sales businesseswhich arenot subsidiaries of publicly-held corporations. All board and officer positions for IPSA are limited toRegularmembers. Associatememberships are avail- able to individuals and companies whose activities relate or contribute to the activities ofRegularmembers. Associates pay an annual fee of $750. Anewaffiliatemembership cate- gorywas added this year for those associations or agencieswhose inter- ests directly relate to the activities and purposes of IPSA, butwho do not qualify for regular or associate membership.Affiliatemember annual dues are $250. AM:What initiativesdoes IPSAhave? GR: IPSAhas just completed a biennial 74 AgriMarketing s April 2009 dent regional seed companies have over national or international brands. With access to several competing genetic and trait platforms under broad licensing agreements, regional seed companies can independently evaluate input options and build the seed product offering that bestmeets the needs of their customers rather than being tied to a single platform like national brands and those seed companieswho have been sold to trait and genetic providers. AM:Howdoes the seed business future look? strategic planning process,where association and industry leadersmet to reviewand bring clarity to IPSA’s strategic plan The revised strategic plan focuses in IPSA’skey functional areas:membership, business develop- ment, education and research. Special attention is given to the association’s annual conference, scheduled for Jan- uary,which is deemed bymany to be the group’s hallmark undertaking each year. IPSAhasworked independently andwith other industry partners over the past several years to develop software and other technology tools tomeet the needs of seed companies. These tools range frominventory management and sales forecasting tools to efforts thatmechanize the data collection and reviewrequired under licensing agreementswith var- ious genetic and trait providers. In late 2008, IPSAbegan a larger effort thatwould tie these various programs together in amore seam- less softwareprogramfor seed com- panies, and fill a void that exists for seed companies of all sizes. AM:Howcanindependently-owned seed companies successfully competewith the multi-nationals? GR: Tremendous challenges exist for seed companies of all sizes, ranging fromproduct obsolescence to access to genetic and trait platforms to competi- tion for employee talent and beyond. Based on quantitative and quali- tative research data, IPSAbelieves there is an advantage that indepen- GR: The evolution of newgenetics and biotech traits can cause seed to become obsolete in a relatively short period of time, and at tremendous cost to seed companies. Seed compa- niesmust remain diligent in assuring that their productmix includes those inputs that are in demand by their customers and potential customers. Another challenge relates to the fact that seed companies compete in themarketplacewithmany of the same companieswho supply them with genetic and trait inputs. While this gives regional seed companies access to a variety of products, it also makes themarketplace among the most competitive in theworld. AM:Anything else you think the industry would find of interest. GR: Independent regional seed com- panies continue to develop and offer seed solutions that are relevant to their customer base, and have the ben- efit of access to a number of high-per- forming genetic and trait platforms. These companies produce seed for your farm, not just for your area code. IPSAwill remaina strongvoice for these independent seedcompanies, andcontinue toprovide strong educa- tionalprogrammingwithcontent rele- vant tomaintaininga strongbusiness climate for these companies. Ifyouare interestedinlearning more about IPSA,or infinding aninde- pendent seedcompanynear you, pleasevisitourWebsite at www.independentseeds.com. AM
May 2009 Supplement