Farmers Harmed by Decline in Nation's Public Seed Supply


| 11/7/2014 1:47:00 PM


Tags: Seed Breeding, Seed Diversity, Genetic Diversity,

Seeds Sprouting from Dirt 

Everything starts with seeds.  Whether you’re an organic farmer looking for seeds that will work with your specific organic growing practices or looking for wheat varieties adapted to your specific growing climate, seeds are the foundation of every piece of food we put on our plate and central to everything crop farmers do.

The continued growth of sustainable and organic agriculture and local, healthy food systems across the country – along with farmers’ ability to meet the challenges of climate change and food security – depends on this critical first building block.

That’s why NSAC is very excited about a much-anticipated analysis of the state of our country’s plant and animal breeding infrastructure and seed supply that was released today, marking the first such analysis in over ten years.  The proceedings from the Summit on Seeds and Breeds for 21st Century Agriculture were published today by the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI), a farmer-based non-profit organization based in Pittsboro, NC and an NSAC member group.

In the proceedings, RAFI and other key stakeholders within the agricultural research community express their increased concerns about farmers’ limited access to seed, the narrowing of our country’s agricultural plant and animal genetic diversity, consolidation within the seed industry, the decline in public cultivar development (i.e. developing new crop varieties for the public good that can continue to be shared and improved by farmers and researchers), and how these trends are impacting farmers’ abilities to confront the unprecedented challenges of climate change and global food security.

There has been a steady decline in our nation’s public investment in public sector breeding programs housed primarily within our nation’s land grant university system and USDA research facilities.  Over the past 20 years alone, we have lost over a third of our country’s public plant breeding programs.  This slow atrophy of public funding to support improved plant varieties means that farmers have been left with fewer and fewer seed choices over the years and are ill-prepared to meet 21st century needs.




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