The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) co-hosted an educational session on pollinators and native seed production at the recent Society for Range Management Convention in Corpus Christi, Texas.  Led by ASTA’s Environmental and Conservation Seed Committee, the session focused on communication and collaboration between the federal government, seed companies and private landowners. 

“The land and our environment play critical roles in the success of America’s farmers,” said ASTA President & CEO Andrew LaVigne.  “ASTA supports continued investments in flexible and efficient conservation programs that provide farmers with the financial and technical assistance  needed to conserve our nation’s most precious resources.“

During the first half of the program, Diane Wilson, Applewood Seed, discussed issues surrounding seed production for pollinator programs.  Wilson explained that the industry produces a wide variety of seed for all kinds of pollinators, and is helping to support the goals of the President’s five-year pollinator program.  Dave Owens, Dow AgroSciences, outlined the industry and natural-area manager partnerships for plant materials management.  Dave Gagner, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, underscored the importance of public-private partnerships for pollinator programs to promote sustainable lands, species and businesses.

The second half of the program focused on native seed production and sustainability.  Dr. Tom Jones, Forage & Range Research Lab, Utah State University, discussed new innovations and technologies to enhance performance, improve seed production, and increase genetic diversity of plant materials.  Scott Uhrig, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), profiled successful BLM seeding projects, stressing that every tool in the toolbox is necessary to prevent future forest fires.  Dustin Terrell, Sharp Brothers Seed Co., discussed “myths and realities of the seed industry,” including the challenge of moving a product from research, to production, to buyer, given constantly-evolving market trends. 

“ASTA members are on the front lines in post-wildfire restoration efforts, providing BLM with the quality seed needed for long-term land rehabilitation,” said LaVigne.  “To be successful, it’s critical the federal government works in close coordination with industry partners to ensure program funding is spent wisely, using scientifically-proven methods and plant materials.”