For more information, see the Second Quarter issue of Seed Today.

Here we are again in a busy spring planting season.

For labs, this is usually time for a small breather having completed all the testing needed for the 2024 spring planting season.

For the organizations of Association of Official Seed Analysts (AOSA) and the Society of Commercial Seed Technologists (SCST), activities are spooling up. Our annual meeting is quickly approaching, and this year’s meeting June 1-6 in Rapid City, SD is slated to be an active one.

Proposed Consolidation

The organizations are actively pursuing consolidation…again.

A proposal was presented to the greater membership at the beginning of April with promising feedback and support.

Working together. It is interesting as we think about a future state to reflect on how far we have come and how much things have changed. Both organizations are now over 100 years old, and in this time, only two annual meetings were held separately and independently of each other.

Upon reflection of old policies and attitudes, it is interesting how we have changed in this time.

In 1988, the organizations decided that there would be no reciprocity for accredited analysts between the organizations when having an employment change. Analysts would need to take another exam.

Today we have the same exam and reciprocity. It was not until 1995, not that long ago, that SCST accepted members who worked at government laboratories. Today, we have about 38% of SCST members also work in these laboratories.

Another change in 1991, SCST allowed for analysts at crop improvements to be members, but only if they were not also government employees.

Today, in some states, the state AOSA lab is the certifying agency, run by an RST, that also serves as the seed control official.

My point of this is long-lasting, effective organizations can survive when they are able to adapt to the changing needs and the landscape of their industry.

Becoming one entity. The need to become one entity became very evident to me when preparing my first industry update on organization activities as president.

To my chagrin, my report was the same as AOSA’s report out. Why? Because we already do everything together.

It may not be apparent to the industry, but we are already about 90-95% consolidated and we are aligned in our initiatives and projects.

The organizations, currently separate, are yet so dependent on each other that each is limited in functionality due to having to move in unison.

Moreover, by having a single board and single budget, the new organization will be able to realize cost savings, simplified operations, and flexibility.

Looking to The Future

As AOSA and SCST look to the future, we are assessing what we need to maneuver through a changing workforce and increasing costs while supporting American agriculture.

This process has been an interesting exercise as we envision a new organization that comes with unique complexities.

First and foremost, there is a need to ensure the autonomy of the AOSA Rules. This is because there are regulations that reference the Rules for testing.

Several years ago, AOSA had a change of how rule votes are tabulated across the organizations. At the time, the change was quite controversial and there was a lot of commentary.

I firmly believe that although unpopular for some, it is likely the linchpin that enables consolidation this time around.

We are planning for a committee for the government labs to convene in the case of a regulatory issue. In this process (as expected) there have been multiple hurdles, but none of the issues we are facing are insurmountable.

I am optimistic that by having thoughtful drafting of the constitution and by-laws, we can have a single strong harmonized organization that will empower the next 100 years of seed testing.

Hoping to see you in Rapid City in June.

Melissa Phillips RST/CGT

President, SCST |