Senate Bill 155 is part of a national strategy to eliminate the authority of local government over one of our most valuable natural resources: seed. The bill restricts Montana farmers’ control over seed through a top-down corporate solution in search of a problem.
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What does SB 155 do? The bill prohibits local government regulation of agricultural seed through sweeping preemption language that is taken from model text developed by the American Legislative Action Council (ALEC). The language specifically prohibits local government from exercising any power to regulate the cultivation, harvesting, production, processing, registration, labeling, marketing, sale, storage, transportation, distribution, possession, notification of use, use, and planting of agricultural seeds or vegetable seeds.
ALEC is an industry front group funded by some of the largest corporations in the world, including Monsanto and Bayer. These two firms enjoy monopoly power over segments of the seed and chemical markets, and may soon merge to sell nearly one-third of the world’s commercial seed and a quarter of all pesticides. ALEC has also led efforts across the West to privatize public lands, advocating for the transfer of federal and public lands to state and private interests.
Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) and EcoFarm will host a one-day symposium in Pacific Grove, California, on January 25, 2017. The gathering will bring together farmers, chefs, grocers, wholesalers, plant breeders, and seed growers who have partnered to create new vegetable varieties that fill seasonal gaps, thrive in the field, and shine on the plate. A tasting featuring a range of these vegetable varieties will follow the discussion.
This is a unique opportunity for the entire organic seed supply chain – from field to plate – to learn what the vegetable variety needs are in the field and marketplace. For example, farmers will relay which varieties perform well for them, which are in need of improvement, and which can’t be found in a certified organic form (organic seed is a requirement in the organic rules).
This piece was written by Harwood D. Schaffer and Daryll E. Ray of the Agricultural Policy Analysis Center in Knoxville, TN, and re-published with permission.
In early December 2016, President-Elect Trump’s transition team sent a 75-item questionnaire to the US Department of Energy (DOE) that stirred up concern among the department’s employees and contractors (http://tinyurl.com/h3a63s4). Question 13 asked, “Can you provide a list of all Department of Energy employees or contractors who have attended any Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon meetings? Can you provide a list of when those meetings were [held] and any materials distributed at those meetings, emails associated with those meetings, or materials created by Department employees or contractors in anticipation of or as a result of those meetings?”
We’re happy to announce the release of our most recent regional seed needs assessment. This new report details the organic seed needs of vegetable growers in Montana. The findings are based on a statewide survey conducted earlier this year as part of a bigger project to advance collaborative research, education, and outreach that results in more organic seed options for Montana’s growers.
Organic acreage in Montana continues to increase alongside the national demand for organic products. In a five-year period (2007-2011), organic vegetable acreage in Montana experienced a five-fold increase. The National Organic Program requires that certified producers use organic seed when available. Although the organic specialty seed industry is growing, the supply is still insufficient to fully meet the diverse and regional needs of all growers.
“The supply is especially limited for vegetable seed adapted to Montana’s climate and environmental conditions,” says Karl Sutton, owner of Fresh Roots Farm in Polson. “This reality is a challenge, but also a tremendous opportunity for farmers who want to grow seed organically for their farm or the commercial market.”
Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) released a report today that details variety trial results for storage cabbages, storage onions, overwintering chicories, and overwintering purple sprouting broccoli. The trials were grown in multiple locations on the Olympic Peninsula from 2014 through 2016, with the goal of identifying which of these crop varieties perform best in this Washington region. The trial evaluations focused on agronomic, storage, and culinary qualities.
Washington agriculture excels in producing high-value specialty crops, especially vegetables, during the prime growing seasons, but the organic produce industry remains dependent on imported crops during the winter and early spring months. Farmers are eager to expand their production of overwintering and storage crops to retain customers throughout the winter. Chefs, produce retailers and the general public increasingly demand locally grown vegetables with exceptional flavor and culinary qualities all year long. The off-season represents a significant market opportunity to expand regional production of key vegetable crops.