ASTA Announces New Leadership Team, Annual Award Winners

John Latham


Brad May


Jim Schweigert

Alexandria, VA (June 16, 2020) — The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) is pleased to recognize its new leadership team and 2020 industry award winners, announced Tuesday during the association’s “PLDC Virtual” Annual Meeting.

Members of the FY2020-21 ASTA officer team — officially taking office on July 1 — are:

  • Chair: John Latham, Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, Alexander, IA
  • First Vice Chair: Brad May, BASF, Research Triangle Park, NC
  • Second Vice Chair: Jim Schweigert, Gro Alliance, LLC, Cuba City, WI

Additionally, Dan Foor, La Crosse Seed, has been elected to serve as the new Vice President, Central Region.

Taking over as Chair for Wayne Gale of Stokes Seeds, John Latham, President of Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, grew up in the seed business. His grandparents started Latham Seeds in 1947 as an oats company.

Today, Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, located in North Central Iowa, offers a full lineup of corn, soybean, alfalfa and cover crop products. John is president; his wife, Shannon, is vice president; and John’s brother, Chris, is the Chief Financial Officer.

John has a long history of service with ASTA, having previously held positions as Vice Chair, North Central Region Vice President, and Chairman of Seed First Political Action Committee. He also has served as chairman of the ASTA’s Corn & Sorghum Division and Legislative and Legal Affairs Committee.

John also follows his father Bill Latham who was President of ASTA in 1998.

“On behalf of all of ASTA’s members and the global seed industry, I want to thank Wayne Gale for his tireless leadership over the past, highly unprecedented, year,” says Latham. “As many of you know, my family has a long and rich history of involvement with this association, and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to continue the tradition of service in this leadership role. Our industry, not unlike so many others, is certainly in the midst of challenging times, and I do not take this new role lightly. However, I know that this great industry - as we’ve always done in the past - will continue to rise to the occasion and find new, innovative solutions to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.”

Also, during Tuesday's session, ASTA announced winners of its prestigious Distinguished Service and Honorary Lifetime Member Annual Awards.

2020 ASTA Distinguished Service Award

ASTA’s Distinguished Service Award recognizes an individual or individuals who made an outstanding contribution to our industry throughout the year.

The 2020 award was presented to two worthy individuals:

Mary Smith

Mary Smith, Arkansas State Plant Board: Serving as the Arkansas State Seed Division Director and Seed Control Official since 1990, Mary is retiring this year after her long years of dedicated service during which she made significant contributions to the seed industry.

Wayne Parrott

Wayne Parrott, University of Georgia: Wayne has been a tireless advocate in efforts to reach the public, elected and regulatory communities to address evolving plant breeding methods, including testifying before Congress and serving in a recent Plant Breeding Innovation session for federal regulators in Washington, D.C.

For more information, see "University of Georgia Plant Breeder Wayne Parrott Honored By American Seed Trade Association."

2020 ASTA Honorary Member Award

ASTA’s Honorary Member Award recognizes individuals who exemplify leadership, vision and service.

This year’s award was bestowed upon two seed-industry professionals:

Tom Moore

Tom Moore, HM. CLAUSE: Tom is retiring this year, after having served the seed industry for 24 years. He has been a consistent leader within ASTA, participating on numerous committees including the Phytosanitary Committee, the International Executive Committee and the Emerging Diseases Committee. He also served as ASTA representative to the International Seed Federation Phytosanitary Committee.

Bernice Slutsky

Bernice Slutsky, ASTA: Having served on the ASTA staff for the past 15 years, Senior Vice President for Innovation Bernice Slutsky is entering retirement. The coordination and focus that Bernice brought to the association enhanced ASTA’s strong leadership role in furthering policy around emerging and evolving plant breeding innovation; intellectual property rights policies regarding plant genetic resources; and international trade and policy. Prior to joining ASTA, Bernice held positions within the USDA Office of the Secretary, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers (PhRMA) and the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.

View the ASTA Commemorative Program for more information about ASTA’s leadership team and award winners.

ASTA Holds First Virtual Annual Membership Meeting In History; Sponsor Support Crucial

ASTA held the first virtual Annual Meeting of its members in its 137-year history. The highly attended session featured opening remarks from Bruce Kettler, Director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, a presentation on Part 340 biotechnology regulations by Bernadette Juarez, Deputy Administrator, Biotechnology Regulatory Services at USDA-APHIS, the traditional State of the Association address by ASTA Chair Wayne Gale of Stokes Seeds, association Board of Directors and officer elections and annual award announcements.

Sponsorship support has been crucial to the functioning of ASTA’s event efforts this summer, despite the necessity to alter some sponsorship packages when the live event transitioned to virtual.

“Our annual sponsors were absolutely wonderful to work with as we reviewed some necessary changes we had to make from what they would have originally seen in Indy this summer,” says Jennifer Crouse, ASTA’s Senior Director of Meetings & Services. “We rolled out a series of changes that altered what we could offer, but all of them stuck with us in this very challenging year and continued to support our programs without skipping a beat.”

ASTA’s annual sponsors include: Strategic Partners – BASF, Bayer, Corteva Agriscience and Syngenta; Annual Partner – SGS; and Silver Circle Partners – AgReliant Genetics and RiceTec.


Founded in 1883, the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) represents over 700 companies involved in seed production, plant breeding and related industries in North America. ASTA is the leading voice of action in all matters concerning the development, marketing and movement of seed, associated products and services throughout the world. The association's broad membership offers varieties from alfalfa to zucchini and all production types including conventional, organic and biotech. ASTA promotes the development of better seed to produce better crops for a better quality of life.


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