The American Seed Trade Association during its 129th Annual Convention in National Harbor, Md., elected new officers and chairs to the Board of Directors for Fiscal Year 2012-2013.
"As we have seen in past years, we continue to have strong commitment from our volunteer leaders to help propel the seed industry forward during the next year," says Andy LaVigne, ASTA president and chief executive officer. "Our incoming officers and chairs bring diverse experience, energy and expertise to their positions and will help prioritize ASTA's agenda."
Blake Curtis of Curtis & Curtis, Inc., based out of Clovis, NM, was elected ASTA chairman for the new fiscal year. Craig Newman of AgReliant Genetics, LLC, will serve as first vice chairman and John Schoenecker of HM. Clause will serve as second vice chairman.
Newly elected Division chairs are:
-David Bigger, Worldwide Soy Technologies, LLC, Soybean Seed Division chair
-Sam Cable, Barenbrug USA, Inc., Lawn Seed Division chair
-Kent Croon, Monsanto Company, Vegetable & Flower Seed Division chair
-Lou Buice, Golden Acres Genetics, Ltd., Corn & Sorghum Seed Division chair
-Alan Ostercamp, RiceTec, Inc., Farm Seed Division chair
The division chairs serve one year and are responsible for setting priorities and objectives for their respective seed sector, helping plan meeting sessions and hosting division meetings.
Incoming chairs for ASTA's Standing Committees are:
-Kim Alberty, Agassiz Seed & Supply, Environmental & Conservation Seed Committee chair
-William Hairston, Bayer CropScience, Seed Treatment & Environment Committee chair
-Tom Moore, HM. Clause, International Executive Committee chair
-Keith Newhouse, Winfield Solutions, LLC, Biotechnology Committee chair
-David Pearl, The CISCO Companies, Legislative & Legal Concerns Committee chair
-Dave Stimpson, Dow AgroSciences, Seed Industry Relations Committee chair
-Karen Withers, Pennington Seed, Inc., Phytosanitary Committee chair.
ASTA Standing Committee chairs serve two years and are responsible for identifying committee priorities, determining the appropriate action forward, working with the division chairs and hosting committee meetings.
New chairman Curtis said he was humbled by the opportunity to serve in a leadership position for ASTA.
During his year as chairman of the more than 700 member-company organization, Curtis said two things will be at the forefront. He plans to continue ASTA's education efforts surrounding intellectual property rights and carrying out the actions steps to the strategic plan.
"It's incredibly important to continue educating seed companies about the benefits and use of intellectual property rights, as well as helping farmers and ranchers recognize the advantages of those products.
"These efforts allow our scientific community to develop and use new traits, knowing they're working in a framework that gives them the protections and opportunities to be successful."
ASTA's strategic plan was reviewed by the Board of Directors this past year.
"From the strategic plan, we learned about the importance of staying connected with all of the members," Curtis said. "This isn't only from a membership perspective and helping companies realize the value of their membership, but more so we can make sure our plan continues to reflect members' needs and desires.
"If we can do this, we will continue to be a vital resource for members and the entire seed industry."
Andy LaVigne, ASTA president and chief executive officer, said Curtis has been very politically active at the state level and serving his local community.
"Blake has an incredible grasp on the issues impacting the American seed industry," LaVigne said. "We are extremely pleased that he brings a strong understanding of the complex issues and political atmosphere we face today."
Curtis and his brother co-own Curtis & Curtis, Inc. (CCI), founded in 1956 by their parents to supply native grass seeds for a rapidly expanding market in the southwest. CCI's major emphasis continues to be on native grass seeds and legumes for various applications such as seeding irrigated pastures, range reseeding, mine reclamation and reclamation seeding for highways, pipeline and highline right-of-ways. They also provide seed for golf courses, home lawns and industrial sites.
Curtis earned his BBA from Eastern New Mexico State University and has served in various local, state and national roles. He was a New Mexico state legislator from 1986 – 1995 where he was Minority Caucus Chair, Minority Whip and Minority Leader. Afterwards, he was appointed and served on the New Mexico Fair Commission for six years.
For ASTA, he has served as Southern regional vice president, second vice chair, first vice chair and now chairman.