First, The Seed

Richard Taylor, Secretary-Treasurer,
Mississippi Seedsmens Association, Leland, MS,
Executive Vice-President, Southern Seed Association

“Without question, the biggest change has been the mergers, acquisitions and just the fact that there are fewer companies. There were countless seed companies when I started, and now you can count them on two hands.
“Biotechnology is right there, too. In 1973, a ton of machine-delinted cotton seed cost $350. Today, if you have all the bells and whistles, it can cost $500 per bag. But even at that price, it’s still exciting because so much is in the seed and there will be so much more.
“But there will come a point in time when a farmer will ask himself if the technology fee is worth it. Farmers have gone the biotechnology route in a big way, and I just don’t see them going back. They see the advantages of the transgenics and most of the breeding work is toward the transgenics.
“In 5 years, I see even fewer players with more direct selling; there will be less distribution. Many basics will be going directly to dealers, and they will have more contact with farmers.
“There are still many unanswered questions concerning Monsanto’s purchase of Delta and Pine Land. I really think it’s going to be a good thing when everything is in place.
“As far as the Southern Seed Association, we are in a new era because we are dealing with national issues, not just state issues. Take homeland security — we are on the phone daily on things like container issues. The days of ammonium nitrate are numbered. We have a different way of doing business; we are adjusting and going forward.”

Eleven verses into Genesis Chapter 1, God says, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” First, the seed.

“There are no truer words than Genesis 1:11,” says a person who should know. “It’s more true today than ever. The seed is everything.”

That person is Richard Taylor of Farmers Feed and Supply in Leland, MS. Richard has a unique opportunity to take a look at where the seed industry has been and where it is going. First, he is a seedsman and has been in the family business since he graduated from Mississippi State University in 1974. In 1979, he was elected to the board of directors of the Mississippi Seedsmens Association and ascended to the presidency in 1981. His late father, Jamie, was also a past president and director. After serving as president, Richard remained on the board as an ex-officio member.

“Once you have been president, you are always on the board,” he says. “That’s one of the strongest points of the Mississippi Seedsmens. We have the experience of people who have been involved in the seed industry for years.”

In 1989, he became the association’s secretary-treasurer, and he continues in that capacity. In March, he was named executive vice-president of the Southern Seed Association.

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