Revitalize public seed breeding
New Bill Would Revitalize Public Plant Breeding and Invest in American Farmers
As a member of the National Organic Coalition, PCC Community Markets supported a bill to revitalize public plant and animal breeding. Here is the bill, introduced by Sen. Tammy Baldwin.
Today Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced The Seeds for the Future Act, legislation that would help American farms meet future challenges by reinvesting in our public plant breeding programs with a focus on regional adaptation. This bill is a companion to the House legislation (H.R. 5208) introduced by Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Darren Soto (D-FL) in March.
Historically, our nation’s state land-grant universities have worked directly with farmers in their region to ensure access to diverse plant varieties that are adapted to specific farming systems, soils, climates, and consumer demands. But over the last several decades, the number of public cultivars available to farmers has been shrinking because public plant breeding programs are underfunded. This is an alarming trend – farmers need access to new and improved seed options that deliver on yield and other production traits, are regionally adapted, and meet diverse market demands. Investing in public cultivar development in a diversity of crops and regions will ensure American farmers, and their regions, are competitive.
The National Organic Coalition (NOC) has been a longstanding champion of measures to revitalize public plant and animal breeding activities, with a focus on developing “farmer-ready” seeds and animal breeds that are regionally adapted.
“We are greatly encouraged by the leadership that Senator Baldwin is providing by introducing this bill. This legislation will increase the resiliency and competitiveness of American farms by providing farmers with access to seeds that are adapted to their specific soil, pest, and disease challenges,” says Steve Etka, Policy Director for the National Organic Coalition. “Organic and conventional farmers alike would benefit greatly from having access to seeds that are adapted to their local and regional conditions.”
The Seeds for the Future Act will give farmers access to 21st century seeds by:
- Ensuring that federal investments are sufficient to support farmers and researchers in developing seeds that work for a diversity of farming systems and locations.
- Prioritizing “farmer-ready” public cultivar development in federal agricultural research grant programs.
- Encouraging commitments to seed diversification and regional adaptation.
- Increasing efficiency and improving coordination across different USDA competitive grant research programs.
The goal of the bill sponsors is to have the provisions incorporated into the larger Farm Bill, which will be up for consideration by the Senate soon.
“The decline in public cultivar development in recent years is making our food system more vulnerable,” says Kiki Hubbard, Director of Advocacy & Communications for the Organic Seed Alliance. “We need more genetic diversity, not less, to address future food and fiber needs and to combat challenges related to our changing climate and increased disease and pest pressures.”
NOC looks forward to working with members of Congress in the Farm Bill process to reinvest in agricultural research, the development of 21st century seeds, and to advance organic agriculture. NOC thanks Senator Baldwin and Representatives Pocan and Soto for their leadership and commitment to farmers.
About the National Organic Coalition: The National Organic Coalition (NOC) is a national alliance of organizations working to provide a “Washington voice” for farmers, ranchers, conservationists, consumers and industry members involved in organic agriculture. NOC seeks to advance organic food and agriculture and ensure a united voice for organic integrity, which means strong, enforceable, and continuously improved standards to maximize the multiple health, environmental, and economic benefits that organic agriculture provides. The coalition works to assure that policies are fair, equitable, and encourage diversity of participation and access.