The American Seed Trade Association summer meeting comes to Indianapolis June 11 through June 15. Since it's for seedsmen and not farmers specifically, you might not think it's a big deal. Craig Newman, current chairman of the ASTA Board, disagrees. Newman is also president and CEO of Ag Reliant Genetics, based in Westfield.
"In the 131-year history of the organization, the conference has never been in Indiana," Newman says. "Since the president of ASTA plays a large part in picking where it goes, I decided it was time to come to the crossroads of America."
The organization has 700 member companies, producing everything from alfalfa seed to zucchini seed. This is one of the first times in many years it will be held in a region where corn and soybeans are major crops.
"It's a natural fit," he says. "Three of the eight largest seed companies in the country have headquarters within 30 miles of Indianapolis. Besides Ag Reliant, those include Dow and Beck's Hybrids.
The other advantage to hosting it here is the proximity to Purdue University, Newman says. Purdue has put on a clinic type of seed academy each year for more than two decades at their facility. For the first two days of the ASTA meeting in Indianapolis, they will conduct a mini-academy to train seedsmen and provide them with information they requested to learn about. That part of the meeting is already sold out, he says.
"Our organization is all about being sure farmers have quality seed to plant in the future," Newman says. "That is also what the conference is about. At the same time we will highlight and showcase Indianapolis to our members."
Newman says two-thirds of the group's membership live within driving distance of Indianapolis. He believes it's the right place to meet. He also believes it will bring recognition to Indiana agriculture, and will highlight to seed companies and their employees from other parts of the country what Indiana agriculture has to offer.