Are You a Farmer Seed Steward?

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 6.59.59 PMFarmers who save and improve seed are innovators in their own right. Their seed decisions and practices impact the quality and integrity of the food we eat, the health of our environment, and the viability of this invaluable natural resource. Farmers are therefore central to expanding agricultural diversity.

The Farmer Seed Stewardship initiative recognizes farmers as seed innovators. The initiative is a partnership between Organic Seed Alliance and Seed Matters, and advances education, research, and advocacy to support farmers’ ability to save, breed, and produce seed for on-farm and commercial use. The initiative works toward three goals:

  • Promote the role of farmers as seed stewards
  • Protect a farmer’s ability to save and improve seed
  • Propagate seed stewards through education and training

And we want you to join us! Are you a farmer who produces, saves, or improves at least one seed variety on your farm for commercial production or on-farm use? Or do you conduct on-farm research or variety trials? If so, be a part of the growing network of seed stewards. We’ll provide you a choice of seed publications, “pin” you on our map, alert you to educational opportunities in your region, and engage you in timely political actions. We need your good work as a seed steward, and we need your voice on issues pertaining to seed policy. Learn more about the principles governing our approach to seed stewardship here.

Learn more about our other Farmer Seed Stewardship initiative activities here.

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New ‘Seed Fund’ Accepting Applications — March 1st Deadline

urlThe Rodale Institute and Amy’s have launched a “seed fund” to help organic farmers purchase certified organic seed for the 2014 growing season. The “seed fund” is an expansion of Rodale’s Your 2 Cents project that aims to help new and transitioning organic farmers through scholarship support.

Certified organic farms and farmers or farmers in transition to organic are eligible for support from the “seed fund”.

Application deadline is March 1, 2014.

Click here to learn more about the “seed fund” and how to apply.

Questions can be directed to megan.kintzer[at]rodaleinstitute[dot]org.

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Organic Seed Sessions at the Upcoming San Juan Islands Agricultural Summit

Photo by Trav Williams, Broken Banjo Photography, www.BrokenBanjo.netOrganic Seed Alliance is a proud host of the organic seed track at the upcoming San Juan Islands Agricultural Summit to be held March 7 – 8, 2014, on Orcas Island. See below for session details.

The 2014 San Juan Islands Agricultural Summit will offer a two-day program packed with information and inspiration, including a stellar line-up of keynote speakers and session leaders. Participating organizations include Organic Seed Alliance (OSA), Washington State University (WSU) NW Research and Extension Center, NW Agriculture Business Center (NABC), and the WA State Small Farms Team.

REGISTER TODAY

Seed Production Basics
Micaela Colley, Organic Seed Alliance; Nash Huber, Nash’s Organic Produce

On-farm Plant Breeding and Variety Trials 
John Navazio and Micaela Colley, Organic Seed Alliance

NW Regional Seed Systems
Micaela Colley, Organic Seed Alliance; Nash Huber, Nash’s Organic Produce

Seed Production as Part of a Diversified Farm
Nash Huber, Nash’s Organic Produce

Keynote Address by Steve Jones of WSU

Seed Swap
Be sure to bring your seeds for the summit’s seed swap hosted by the Orcas Island Seed Library.

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Who’s Responsible for GMO Contamination?

Hand Holding Black Pen

Contamination is a huge problem for farmers who don’t grow genetically engineered (GE) crops, at times costing them the premium price they receive for their crops as well as costs associated with testing, prevention, and clean-up. Contamination is also a growing burden for the organic and non-GE seed sector.

We have a historic opportunity to fundamentally change the way our government regulates GE crops and to hold the owners of GE products accountable for contamination. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting public comments on “coexistence” recommendations developed by its Advisory Committee on Biotechnology for 21st Century Agriculture (AC21).

Unfortunately these recommendations do not provide meaningful solutions for preventing contamination. We need to tell the USDA that it must focus on preventing contamination to begin with and to place responsibility where it belongs.

Comments are due March 4, 2014.

Submit comments electronically by following this link to Docket No. APHIS-2013-0047.

Submit comments by mail to: Docket No. APHIS-2013-0047, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238

The AC21 recommendations fall far too short for farmers and eaters. Specifically, they fail to:

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Time to Speak Out Against 2,4-D Crops: Deadline March 11

Hand Holding Black Pen

The comment deadline has been extended to March 11, 2014.

USDA has taken a big step toward approving Dow’s herbicide-tolerant corn and soybeans engineered to survive applications of 2,4-D herbicides. In January the agency announced through a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) that it recommends these crops be commercialized. Allowing these crops on the market will drive up use of 2,4-D, an antiquated and dangerous herbicide known to drift to non-target crops and is linked to cancer, reproductive toxicity, and endocrine disruption.

Just as other herbicide-tolerant crops have led to an enormous increase in herbicide use — Roundup Ready crops have led to an increase of 527 million pounds of herbicides being applied between 1996 and 2011 — this next generation of herbicide-tolerant crops will lead to a huge increase in the use of 2,4-D. Numerous studies have shown the toxicity of 2,4-D. It is a chemical that is more volatile and drifts, threatening neighboring crops and creating unnecessary health risks to farmers and rural communities. Research shows that if 2,4-D corn is introduced, we could see more than 103 million pounds of 2,4-D applied to U.S. corn fields by 2019. By comparison, in 2010, about 3 million pounds were applied to U.S. corn fields.

Before USDA’s decision is final, join us in urging the agency to keep 2,4-D seed off the market and out of our rural communities and agricultural landscapes. Tell USDA that we don’t need more seed bred for a companion herbicide. We need more seed bred for low-input systems that are adapted to diverse regions, ecologies, climates, and markets.

COMMENTS ARE DUE MARCH 11, 2014.

If you’d like to submit individual comments, follow this link to Docket No. APHIS-2013-0042.

And if you’re a farmer, please consider signing the farmer statement below by adding your name, farm name, city, and state in the comments section of this blog post. We’ll deliver your name with this statement to the USDA. (Thanks to Pesticide Action Network for the statement.)

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Posted in Agricultural Policy, GMOs, Seed Industry | 3 Comments