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New NSA Officer Slate

Wednesday, January 2, 2013
filed under: Marketing/Risk Management

Sunflower sometimes seems like the best-kept secret, and the newly elected president of the National Sunflower Association, Kevin Capistran, would like to change that.

The NSA Board of Directors recently met in Bismarck to set the coming year’s budget and elect officers. Capistran, a farmer from Crookston, Minn., was chosen to serve as president for 2012/13. He takes over from South Dakota farmer Tom Young, who had served as the association’s president for the past two years. Capistran had previously served as NSA’s first vice president.

Capistran, who joined the NSA board three years ago, moved quickly into the executive ranks looking to make an impact. At his first meeting in 2010, he took part in the association’s vote to designate $100,000 toward what is called the SNP project, giving sunflower breeders the funding and tools they need to develop gene sequencing and DNA markers to find solutions to disease and insects as well as increase yield potential. “Through the SNP Consortium, we have the ability to equip sunflower breeders with the latest genetic tools,” he says. “It is an ongoing investment that we expect to bring results that growers will see.”

With that vote and commitment to further development, Capistran is confident the industry and the association are on the right track. “It may take a little longer to get there using traditional methods of breeding versus GMO crops, but it’s obvious that our current hybrids have come a long ways,” he says. Sunflower has been a part of the Capistran operation since the late 1970s, but the family farms in an area (northwestern Minnesota) where there currently aren’t as many acres devoted to the crop as there used to be.

“We have to find ways to stay competitive with other crops other than just looking for higher prices, so yield has to be the number one priority,” Capistran says. “The challenge is that different areas of the country have different limiting factors. We need to find the right solutions for the right areas. Where I farm, controlling diseases is the key. Other areas that don’t have much disease concern may be battling blackbirds or insects, though.”

In the near future, Capistran sees sunflower production expanding to new areas such as Wyoming and Montana, with the need for the association to spur that growth. Another top agenda item is to communicate with the customer to make sure sunflower isn’t the best-kept secret. “We need to be receptive to what consumers want, but at the same time make sure they hear our message about sunflower and get the right information. Our association needs to make sure we’re continually promoting our products.”

The NSA board of directors also voted to advance Dickinson, N.D., farmer Art Ridl to the position of first vice president. Ridl likewise serves as chairman of the North Dakota Oilseeds Council. Elected second vice president was Lindsborg, Kan., farmer Karl Esping, a member of the NSA board since 2010. Tyler Schultz of Cargill, Inc., West Fargo, N.D., was elected secretary-treasurer.

The National Sunflower Association is a farmer and industry organization working to improve the profitability of sunflower for all sectors. Contributions by the High Plains Committee, private seed companies, state checkoff councils/commissions and state ag research funds are part of the overall sunflower research picture. The board of directors is comprised of farmers and industry members representing the major U.S. sunflower production regions. NSA offices are located at Mandan, N.D.
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