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the foundation
of civilization

Plant breeding:
the foundation
of agriculture

Plant Breeding Coordinating Committee

Subcommittee - Competitiveness, Sustainability and Quality of Life in Rural America  

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This is the report from the subcommittee on Competitiveness, Sustainability and Quality of Life in Rural America. It met as part of the Plant Breeding Coordinating Committee in Cary, North Carolina on February 7-9, 2007.

This report was prepared by:

  • Marcelo Carena
  • Jim Myers
  • Matthew Dillon


  • Goal
    • Competitiveness, Sustainability and Quality of Life in Rural America
  • How plant breeding can support this goal
    • Priorities
      • growing specialty crops, value added traits
      • preserving environmental quality and reducing inputs
      • creating partnerships: FFA, PPB, rural sociologists, economists
      • working as a systems approach
  • What is needed to assemble a factual and compelling case
    • Help producers to stay in business :
      • Reduce input costs, improving yield and quality, high-value crops, specialty crops, increase adaptation of cultivars
    • Promoting business in rural communities :
      • Create a new connected community, cultivars and community builders (e.g. golden beet), keep community businesses, develop small seed businesses, promoting business
    • Include the consumer (all) in breeding decisions
      • Added value crops
      • Rural America, meet specialty food market
      • Sell value to the public, target consumers, ethnic foods
  • Partnerships to build and/or ways to find out what partnerships to build
    • Farm Bureau
    • Rural Associations
    • Seed producers, seed stocks
    • PPB, FFA, Extension
    • Commodity Groups
    • NRCS
    • County governments
    • Rotary
    • Civic Associations
    • Rice Federations
    • NGOs
    • Rural Development Associations
  • Currently: All Regional (Pacific Northwest) NGOs, Consultant plant breeders
  • Partner without lobbyists
  • Outreach/feedback, need to educate, potential for breeding and education
  • Partner with organizations having lobbyists
    • FFA: get associated with national convention, offer to provide training session
    • American seed trade association (plan). Strong investment in small companies too
  • Proposed strategy and action plan
    • Proposed five-year strategy and major five-year actions
    • Accumulate value-added success stories
  • Develop marketing strategies, partners should be actively involved for more powerful
    • Make an impression on plant breeding careers. Use their national website, monthly magazines
    • DVD/video. podcasts that present the case for plant breeding (visual successes). Ag. In the classroom
    • Public access of impact slides (e.g. presentations from today), central website of scc80 for all the public.
    • Accumulate value-added success stories, human examples (e.g. melon)
    • Oral examples, get them to know
      • How to get partners to go to legislators, legislative training
      • Making partnerships
      • Education about plant breeding and rural America
      • Education of administrators, asking companies for recognition
      • Need of strengthen partnerships
      • Active media, develop marketing strategies
      • Find partners in marketing plant breeder, share the passion for plant breeding, self-promotion training
  • First two years
    • Gathering the success stories and current efforts of plant breeding & impacts on rural life
    • Action Item: Create template-access on website so that we can add stories from our own experiences. Have links to regional breeding programs and designated outreach person. Track and document success of this outreach mechanism (Web hits? Submitted comments?)
    • To Do: building site, promoting site and requesting stories, content management (shared among all committees?)
    • Whom: group secretary communicates with national committee to request story submissions
    • Promotion to FFA (David Weaver, Donn Cummings, Keith Woeste)
    • Timeline:
      • Year 1 – Exploratory
      • Year 2 – Events Suggested Events:
        • Plant Breeding listed as career on FFA website (Donn Cummings)
        • Presentation or activity at state and/or national convention (Keith Woeste)
        • Contest
  • Five year plan
    • General Public
      • MEDIA: “What is a plant breeder?” (video?- with personal stories and overview of profession)
      • historical – from classical period to molecular
    • Within Academia
      • Increased promotion in undergraduate programs (module within agronomy class) and outside of LGUs to other nontraditional agricultural schools.
      • Action: Craft a unified message (white paper) to potential partners – why they should help, and what help we need to strengthen public breeding.
      • Action: Packet for partners with information guiding them to the appropriate decision makers – what to say and to whom you should say it.
      • Sample support letters. Talking points.
      • Action: Independent economic analysis of value of PB at the state level
      • Explore OSU model (suggested by Steve St. Martin. Report on OSU web site)
      • Engage econ depts
      • Short term action:
        • communication amongst group officers on how to proceed with this activity
        • accumulate list of organizations that need to be approached
        • examples:
          • Farm Bureau
          • ASTA
          • Economic Development Councils
          • Commodity or Production Associations
          • Specialty Crop groups
      • Facilitated (!!so the breeders don’t put a cloud over everything)  listening sessions and consulting to rural entrepreneurs working on valued added and niche markets – how can PB help their business (native communities, ethnic vegetables, garden-heirloom seed companies)
      • Develop relationships with EDCs our rural enterprise org
      • Learning more about opportunities for grants for rural enterprise (RBEG)
      • Make a decision about feasibility of doing this work within existing USDA structure
      • Propose a plan for breeders interacting in rural development program such as this
    • AND – Promote previous examples at these sessions
  • Participating attendees in this workgroup:
    • Karen Moldenhauer
    • Keith Woeste
    • Neil Anderson
    • Dennis West
    • James Olmstead
    • Steve St. Martin
    • Kelly Chenault
    • Chris Cramer
    • Xuegan Sha
    • Linda Wessel Beaver
    • David Weaver
    • Donn Cummings
    • Carl Griffey
    • Jim Myers
    • Kendall Lamkey
    • Bill Tracy
    • Matt Dillon
    • Marcelo Carena


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Department of Horticultural ScienceBox 7609North Carolina State UniversityRaleigh, NC 27695-7609(919) 515-7416

Page citation: Wehner, T.C. Global Plant Breeding, 30 March 2005;
design by C.T. Glenn; send questions to T.C. Wehner; last revised on 30 September, 2009