From his seat on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., is looking to revive public seed breeding and research.
Towards the end of last week, Soto paired up with U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wisc., to unveil the “Seeds for the Future Act” to reform federal funds going to farmer and researchers developing seeds, including supporting more feed diversification. The proposal also ensures various federal agencies are on the same page with the program.
“Many American farmers struggle to access seeds that work best for their climate, geography, and purpose,” said Pocan when he brought the bill out. “We must take steps to help secure our diverse seed stocks for years to come and the Seeds for the Future Act will do so by increasing investment in the development of publicly available, farmer-ready varieties.”
“I am proud to work with Rep. Pocan and industry leaders to support farmers and seed breeders in our nation,” Soto said. “In order for our seeds, and consequently our crops, to prosper and remain competitive in the 21st century global market, we must continue robust federal investment in agricultural research and innovation.”
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) threw its support behind the proposal.
“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, a 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. NSAC thanks Representatives Pocan and Soto for supporting American farmers and seed breeders. We look forward to working with these and other leaders in Congress to include the provisions of the Seeds for the Future Act in the 2018 Farm Bill.”
The bill has been sent to the House Agriculture Committee.