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PSA Membership Update

New Directory:
The new PSA membership directory will be published in the next few weeks.  If you have any updates to your company listing that have not been sent into the office please do so this week.  And, if you have not sent in your advertisement and wish to do so please send those to ASAP.  Thank you.

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Interested in joining a PSA committee?  The committees are a great way to get involved in PSA.  It is within the committees that industry problems are identified, analyzed, discussed--and where solutions and courses of action are born.  Here the individual can have their voice heard and contribute effectively to the organization.   

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Please mark your calendars for February 13-16, 2022 and join the PSA membership for the 2022 Annual Convention at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa in Waikoloa, HI.

2022 Schedule of Events

Sunday, February 13th

  • 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm Set Up for Exhibitors
  • 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm Board of Directors Meeting
  • 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm Early Registration
  • 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm Welcome Reception 

Monday, February 14th

  • 7:00 am - 9:00 am Registration for PSA Participants
  • 7:00 am - 8:00 am Past Presidents Breakfast
  • 8:00 am - 9:00 am Continental Breakfast for all Attendees
  • 9:00 am – 9:30 am General Session Opens
    • Welcome / Introductions Carolyn Lockwood, PSA President
      • Chris Zanobini, PSA Executive Director
  • 9:30 am - 10:30 am Industry Issues Forum
  • 10:30 am - 11:30 am Panel Discussion
  • 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm Lunch for Convention Attendees with Keynote Speaker
  • 2:00 pm - 2:30 pm ASTA Legislative Update: Federal and State Issues
    • Pat Miller, Director of State Affairs, American Seed Trade Association
  • 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm Speaker (TBA)
  • 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm Light Reception & Calcutta Auction
    • Dinner on your own

Tuesday, February 15th

  • 7:00 am - 8:00 am Continental Breakfast for all Attendees
  • 8:00 am - 10:00 am PSA Annual Business Meeting
    • Field Crop Reports
  • 10:30 am - 4:30 pm PSA Annual Golf Tournament
  • 1:00 pm - 3:30 pm Off-Site Optional Event (TBA)
  • 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm President’s Reception
  • 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm Banquet/Awards/Entertainment

Wednesday, February 16th

  • Convention Adjourns

Hotel Booking Website:

USDA APHIS Seeks Comment on Exemptions from Biotech Regulations

The Agriculture Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said Friday it is soliciting feedback on a proposal to add three modifications that plants could contain and be exempt from USDA’s biotechnology regulations.

These modifications are similar and functionally equivalent to modifications that could otherwise be achieved through conventional breeding, APHIS said.

Details may be found in the Federal Register notice. The comment period began on Monday and continues through August 18.

RMA to Expedite Drought-Induced Crop Insurance Claims

USDA’s Risk Management Agency is working with crop insurance companies to streamline and accelerate the adjustment of losses and issuance of indemnity payments to crop insurance policyholders in impacted areas, reports Feedstuffs. These new crop insurance flexibilities are part of USDA’s broader response to help producers impacted by drought in the West, Northern Great Plains, Caribbean and other areas.

Emergency procedures allow insurance companies to accept delayed notices of loss in certain situations, streamline paperwork, and reduce the number of required representative samples when damage is consistent. These flexibilities will reduce burdens on both insurance companies and producers to help mitigate drought effects.

Producers should contact their crop insurance agent as soon as they notice damage, RMA says. The insurance company must have an opportunity to inspect the crop before the producer puts their crop acres to another use. If the company cannot make an accurate appraisal, or the producer disagrees with the appraisal at the time the acreage is to be destroyed or no longer cared for, the insurance company and producer can determine representative sample areas to be left intact and maintained for future appraisal purposes.

Once an insured crop has been appraised and released, or representative strips have been authorized for later appraisal, the producer may cut the crop for silage, destroy it or take any other action on the land including planting a cover crop.

USDA Making Key Change on Cover Crops

From now on, farmers will be able to hay and graze the cover crops they’ve planted on prevent-plant acres without waiting until November. Under the old policy, farmers who grazed or cut cover crops before Nov. 1 would have their prevent-plant payment reduced by 65%.

USDA’s Risk Management Agency is making a change for 2021 that will become permanent through a regulatory modification. RMA has decided that farmers seed cover crops on prevent-plant acres primarily for conservation purposes, not to get a second crop, and thus there should be no cut to their PP payments, Acting RMA Administrator Richard Flournoy told Agri-Pulse.

Sen. John Thune (R-SD) welcomed the rule change. “This will help level the playing field for producers in northern states like South Dakota,” he said.

Small Businesses Face Hiring Challenges

Many companies have been challenged during the pandemic to attract and retain talent. Not surprisingly, smaller companies have had the most difficulty. They simply don't have the resources and, in many cases, the bench strength or business experience that larger organizations have.

Many small businesses are struggling not only with finding great candidates, but also with thinking strategically about their overall talent strategy and how to address important topics like diversity and inclusion, which are very much top of mind these days.

Recruiting and hiring is HR professionals' top concern, according to XpertHR's Survey of HR Challenges for 2021. Of the 563 U.S. employers responding to the survey, 66 percent said recruiting and hiring would be either "somewhat" or "very" challenging for them this year. The next greatest challenge was workforce planning, cited by 59 percent of respondents. Despite the anticipated challenge, though, 48 percent indicated that they expected to increase their workforce over the year; only 10 percent indicated they would need to eliminate positions.

Small Businesses Face Unique Challenges
Small businesses, many hard-hit during the pandemic, face unique challenges as they attempt to reopen and, in some cases, respond to renewed or increased demand.

Kia Roberts is founder and principal of Triangle Investigations, a group of lawyers and expert investigators performing misconduct investigations. Roberts points to three key challenges facing small businesses as they emerge from the pandemic:

  • Expectations about diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), and overall fairness within the workplace are changing. "Most small businesses do not have the internal bandwidth to have a designated person working on equity efforts within their organization," she said. Still, there are things they can do. "Small businesses can hire a DE&I consultant to work on an hourly basis, or can dig into books containing actionable tips on creating equitable and fair workplaces."
  • Demographics and desires are also changing. "An increasingly activist and diverse workforce has a very low tolerance for issues related to misconduct such as sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation," she said.
  • Safety and health are top of mind. "Employers must be intentional about respecting employees' comfort levels with respect to health and working conditions," Roberts said.
"The last year has left many employees shell-shocked and sensitive about crowded or cramped working conditions, or about being in person at the office daily."

"Today's talent market is hard," said Jonathan Heiliger, a partner with Vertex Ventures who helped create VC Open Door, offering counsel and support to underrepresented founders and entrepreneurs of emerging companies. "As hiring bounces back post-pandemic, competition is fierce," he said. "Early-stage companies are struggling to find and hire the next level of leader in functions like sales, marketing and product."

Tackling a Tough Talent Market
There is one interesting impact on small companies that has taken many employers by surprise, said Steven Rothberg, founder of job search site College Recruiter. Employees are taking into consideration "how well prospective employers protected their employees over the past year," he said. "Did the employer immediately lay them off last March without doing everything possible to avoid that? Did the employer insist that customers coming into their premises be masked? When employees got sick from COVID-19, did the employers ensure they suffered no financial hardship from lost wages? Did the employers provide paid time off for employees to get vaccinated?"

Employers' actions during the pandemic send a strong message to potential candidates about the type of employers they might be.

Fortunately, Rothberg said, "many small businesses can and should be proud of how well they took care of their employees, even if that was detrimental in the short term to the owners." But, he said, many have not been vocal enough in telling their stories. They have an opportunity to do that and to leverage the goodwill they may have generated now that they're ramping back up. "It is these employers who are poised to capture the best talent as the economy continues to reopen," Rothberg said.

Another obvious challenge that small companies face when it comes to the war for talent is the ability to compete with organizations that have better budgets and the ability to offer far more attractive wage and benefits packages. "Emerging companies are competing with the open wallets of well-funded startups and public companies," Heiliger said. But there are ways they can compete. "They can combat this by offering appropriate equity, sharing a compelling vision and creating an inspiring role for the candidate."

Small companies must also consider both the talent and skills they need now, and what they will need in the future.

Understanding What Good Candidates Look Like
Heiliger said seed-stage companies need to hire more "cooks" than "chefs." They're at a stage in their life cycles where they need people to actually do the work. Ideally, of course, they would want these people to be able to "flex into leadership roles over time." Startups, he said, "can struggle with how to manage the person who has been a great employee so far but won't take the company five times further, especially first-time founders who haven't managed many people."

While the adage "hire slow, fire fast," may be easy to say, Heiliger said, it's "nearly impossible to implement." It can be hard to see when a job outpaces a person in a high-growth company, he added.

To solve for this, he recommended setting "measurable, objective targets and monitoring the employee's output, ability to handle stress, and to delegate to new peers or build their own team."

Career ladders also can help, Heiliger said. Career ladders are important and something for small firms to consider. They can be used "not only to show skill progression from individual contributor to manager, director and VP, but also as an overall indicator of ability," he said.

There can be a tendency for smaller organizations to focus more on what might make them less appealing than larger organizations. However, especially in this shifting workforce landscape, they can also take advantage of some unique opportunities they may be perfectly poised to offer.

(source: InterWest Insurance Services LLC News: Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM))

Working Smart: Keys to Reducing Cybercrime Losses

While it can be challenging to establish accurate statistics on cybercrime and the losses businesses suffer because of it, there’s no doubt that enormous sums of money are involved. We also know that cybercrime is on the rise. According to the 2019 annual report from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), total recorded losses over the last five years were $10.2 billion, but $3.5 billion of that was stolen last year alone.

The IC3 figures tend to be conservative, and there’s no telling how many scams go unreported, either because they’re not uncovered or because the victim is too embarrassed. Cybercrime is complex, and there’s a roaring black-market trade in stolen data that enables criminals with different skill sets to exploit and monetize stolen bank details, account logins and other kinds of information.

Defenses can take many forms, from software and systems to security awareness training for staff to expert consultations. However, several strategies are frequently overlooked, particularly by mid-sized and small businesses: establishing security rules with banks and financial services and obtaining proper insurance against online fraud.

Working with your bank
You may assume that your bank has stringent security measures in place as a matter of course, but that could be a dangerous assumption to make. Many fraudulent funds transfers are unwittingly processed by banks every day, and it is incumbent on commercial customers to thoroughly check into any prospective bank’s standard security measures.

Here are some desirable features to look for:

  • Multi-factor authentication — This should be a requirement to authorize all online funds transfers to new beneficiaries or for large sums. All good banks distribute security tokens for this purpose.
  • Regular transfers review — Your bank should examine your normal funds transfer activity to establish a baseline so that any unusual activity, or transfers that exceed a certain value you have decided upon, always trigger a challenge.
  • Confirmation procedures — With normal activity and a value limit set, your bank should confirm any large transfers or unusual transfers before processing them, either via phone, SMS or encrypted email.
  • Specify IP addresses — You can register specific IP addresses with your bank that are authorized to order funds transfers. Any address not registered should trigger a confirmation call before being processed.

Ensuring that your bank has all these security protocols in place will help reduce the threat of fraudulent bank transfers going through successfully. Insist that your bank adheres to everything listed here or consider switching to another that does.

Further steps to protect company finances
The above list is a good start, but it should be considered the bare minimum. There are additional steps you can take to safeguard company funds to make theft more difficult.

  • Consider setting up a separate user account on your system used solely for funds transfers. Even better, designate a single computer for funds transfers and nothing else.
  • Ensure that you have comprehensive anti-malware software installed on any machine used for funds transfers. This should include antivirus, antispyware, a firewall, anti-rootkit and more with continuous scanning scheduled.
  • Consider establishing a regularly scheduled phone call to your bank listing funds transfers and amounts for the day. Choosing specific days and times and pre-authorizing with the bank by phone could prevent any fraudulent transfers.
  • Draw up a list of recipients for funds transfers and set maximum amounts for each one, then share this list with your bank as a reference guide. Anything that doesn’t fall within the parameters on the list should trigger an investigation and require the bank to contact designated staff to get approvals.

Now that we’ve run through some important measures to help prevent the loss of funds to cybercrime, let’s discuss what happens when fraud is successfully perpetrated against your company. No matter how good your defenses, there is always some risk that criminals will find a way around them.

Assessing fraud insurance
Because the potential impact of a successful attack on an organization is so devastating, large businesses almost always take out insurance policies. The perception that these are an expensive and possibly unnecessary expense is common enough that small- and mid-sized businesses often eschew them entirely. This is a mistake.

Cyber liability policies may not be as expensive as you think. At the very least, you should talk to some insurers about what benefits the right policy could offer and precisely how much fraud insurance would cost for your business. Good insurers will tailor policies for your specific circumstances and help tighten up your defenses and reduce your potential exposure.

Ultimately, successful fraud has the potential to close your business down for good, and that’s an unacceptable risk.

While there is still some complacency, forward-thinking banks and insurers are cognizant of the need for security measures and policies that protect small- and mid-sized businesses without prohibitive pricing.

Find the right partners, and you can minimize the risk of losses and reduce your potential exposure dramatically.

(source: InterWest Insurance Services LLC News)

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