IPSA President Chris Latham says the seed industry faces unprecedented challenges going forward, but it can rise up and find solutions to issues by delivering the best innovations to customers. (Chris Lusvardi photos)

Indianapolis, IN (January 22, 2024) – The Independent Professional Seed Association (IPSA) held its 35th annual conference Jan. 15-18 in Indianapolis, IN.

For photos from the conference, see the Seed Today Facebook page.

The theme for the conference was Rooted in Innovation and United in Independence for 35 years. The goal was to provide ideas about how to address the challenges and opportunities the industry is facing right now, says President Chris Latham of Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, Alexander, IA.

Overall, Latham says they’re trying to accomplish a consistent vision like IPSA has had for the past 35 years. By being mindful of where they have come from in the past, he says those in the industry can look for ways to move ahead.

“We face unprecedented challenges going forward,” Latham says. “We need to rise up and find solutions to the issues by delivering the best innovations to customers, just like before us. We are rooted in innovation and united in independence.”

IPSA CEO Todd Martin says he felt good about the association heading into the year, but the seed industry has faced more headwinds than anticipated with a lot of challenges in 2023. The entire agriculture sector has been affected, as Martin says it’s not just seeds.

He says IPSA will continue to be the voice of its members and bring value to them as the membership remains strong.

Keynote Speakers

Opening session keynote speaker Phil M. Jones says change at best can be uncomfortable.

“One thing that has not changed is the need to drive results and sales,” Jones says. “Reach higher. You’re not going to get where you want to be by being comfortable.”

Among other advice, Jones explained how motivation can work as it provides a reason to move. As he demonstrated by sitting comfortably in a chair on stage, Jones said there are different reasons why people are motivated to get up, so they need to find their reason to move, whether it’s by being comfortable, uncomfortable, or lighting up inside.

Attendees were provided copies of Jones’ book “Exactly What To Say: The Magic Words for Influence and Impact.”

The keynote speaker during the closing session, David Nurse, a former professional basketball player and coach, says uncertainty is the biggest fear people have.

“We see it as an opportunity for growth,” Nurse says.

Nurse spoke about confidence, connection, and consistency and encouraged attendees to think about ways in which they can take one step forward each day. By giving just 1% more each day, he says it can add up to make a big difference.

Before his presentation, Nurse signed copies of his book “The Life-Changing Power of Taking Action: Don’t Quit.”

Scholarships and Awards

During the business luncheon Jan. 17, IPSA recognized its scholarship and award recipients. Six of the eight scholarship recipients were in attendance, including Jacob Wiesbrock, a senior at the University of Illinois who received the Tom Burrus Memorial Scholarship.

Burrus, who passed away in 2017, always took immense pride in being a seedsman and a member of the organization, especially the independent part, says Tim Greene, Burrus’ son-in-law and president of Burrus Seed, Arenzville, IL. He was always looking for ways to help the seed sector win, Greene says.

The family continues to support future generations, with Tom’s wife, Marcy, donating $50,000 to continue funding the IPSA scholarships.

Marcy received IPSA’s Lifetime Achievement Award with a specially designed coffee mug in her honor.

Carl Peterson of Peterson Farm Seed, Harwood, ND, received the Independent of the Year Award.

IPSA's 2024 Officers and the Class of 2026 Board Directors

The IPSA Board elected their 2024 Officers:

  • President: Colin Steen, Legacy AgriPartners
  • 1st Vice President: Scott Sanders, Peterson Farm Seed
  • 2nd Vice President: Aaron Conaway, Total Seed Production

They also announced the election of these board members for their second term as the Class of 2026:

  • Chris Latham, Latham Hi-Tech Seeds
  • Scott Sanders, Peterson Farm Seed
  • Matt Goetz, Wyckoff Hybrids


The IPSA Annual Conference is scheduled to return to Indian Wells, CA Jan. 5-8, 2025, where it was held in 2019.

Written by Chris Lusvardi, Seed Today editor

Phil M. Jones says change is at best uncomfortable. He encourages people to reach higher, as they're not going to get where they want to be by being comfortable.

Phil M. Jones talks about the importance of motivation, which he says involves finding reasons to move from the comfort of a chair.

Jacob Wiesbrock, second from right, a senior at the University of Illinois, received the Tom Burrus Memorial Scholarship.

Marcy Burrus, center, receives IPSA's Lifetime Achievement Award after donating $50,000 to support scholarships in recognition of her late husband, Tom Burrus.

Keynote speaker David Nurse discussed ways get where want you to be while realizing uncertainty is the biggest fear people have. "We should see it as an opportunity for growth," he says.

Todd Martin, left, presents the Crystal Eagle Award to Carl Peterson of Peterson Seed Farm in recognition as the Independent of the Year.