We just released our first five-year update today on the status of organic seed. The report, State of Organic Seed, 2016, is part of an ongoing project to measure progress in increasing farmer access to organic seed in the US.
Organic farmers produce food differently, and that means they need different seed for the crops they grow: seed developed to thrive without synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and adapted to their local climate and soil conditions.
“Organic seed adapted to our region is of highest importance to our success as an organic farm,” says Richard Moyer of Moyer Family Farm. “Our growing conditions in the Southern Appalachians are very different than other parts of the country and even other parts of the Southeast in terms of humidity, variable temperatures, and the crops we can produce.”
Organic seed is also a regulatory requirement. The USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) requires the use of organic seed when commercially available. As demand for organic food grows – sales in 2015 reached $39 billion – so does demand for organic seed. State of Organic Seed, 2016 shows that supply gaps remain, as most organic farmers still rely on seed that isn’t organic.
But the situation is improving. OSA arrived at this and other conclusions through a number of surveys targeting stakeholder groups, a detailed analysis of organic seed research investments, and listening sessions at organic farming conferences in 2014 and 2015.