A new piece of legislation was introduced this week in the House that aims to reinvest in public seed breeding programs. According to the National Sustainable Agricultural Coalition, the Seeds for the Future Act, introduced Wednesday in the House by Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Darren Soto (D-FL), would put more focus on reinvesting in public seed breeding and research programs, and improving coordination across the federal agencies that support these activities.
“For farm businesses to stay viable in today’s economy, they need to be able to overcome a host of obstacles, including increasingly extreme and unpredictable weather patterns, invasive pests, and previously unseen crop diseases,” said Kanika Gandhi, Policy Specialist at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
“Seeds that are bred with today’s diverse farming systems, climate and growing challenges in mind are critical to farmers’ ability to keep their businesses, and their soil, healthy and strong. The Seeds for the Future Act will increase farmers’ access to these 21st century seeds by making much-needed reinvestments in public breeding programs and ensuring that federal agencies work together in an efficient manner,” Gandhi said.
The Coalition says without robust federal investment in agricultural research and seed breeding, the U.S. agricultural industry will struggle to remain competitive with other global powers like China. In 2008, China surpassed the U.S. in total public research funding, and since 2013, China has invested double the amount that the U.S. has in public agricultural research and development.
The Seeds for the Future Act would:
- Ensure that federal investments are sufficient to support farmers and researchers in developing seeds that work for a diversity of farming systems and locations
- Prioritize “farmer-ready” public cultivar development in federal grant programs
- Encourage commitment to seed diversification and regional adaptation
- Increase efficiency and improving coordination across federal agencies
More information on the Seeds for the Future Act Act, including a summary and detailed outline, is available on the NSAC website.