Website monitoring aims to ensure variety labeling requirements.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it is implementing new measures to increase transparency and competition within the U.S. seed industry through its Farmer Seed Liaison Initiative. This USDA said this initiative was designed to amplify the voices of farmers, small- and mid-sized seed companies and independent plant breeders in policy-making processes to enhance competition, choice and fairness in the seed market.

The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced the launch of a nationwide Website Monitoring Program in a recent news release. This program will ensure compliance with the Federal Seed Act’s brand and variety name requirements. Regulatory specialists will conduct website reviews, including links to scanned pamphlets and PDFs that advertise seeds regulated by the Federal Seed Act. The AMS said it will use a risk-based approach for these reviews and any subsequent enforcement actions, considering the severity and scope of any violations and the efforts made by the website’s owners to comply with the regulations.

The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) is closely watching recent events and submitted comments about the USDA’s measures to Seed World. 

SW: The USDA recently announced it will implement new monitoring measures regarding variety name requirements.  What is ASTA’s take on this announcement?

ASTA: The companies that make up the American seed industry strive to comply with state and federal seed laws and the labeling requirements set forth by the Federal Seed Act. ASTA’s members, large and small, build long-term, trusted customer relationships with their farmers so that the seed they provide is of the highest quality possible. Each year, farmers rely on transparent and clear information to make crucial seed choices that support successful harvests and provide for an increasing world population in a sustainable fashion while protecting the environment. We appreciate USDA’s continued efforts to promote the Federal Seed Act’s varietal labeling requirements for seed, and for highlighting the importance of establishing best practices. ASTA will work with its partners in the seed industry to coordinate an industry information session so interested parties can learn more about USDA’s efforts.

SW: Will new USDA regulatory actions enhance transparency and fair competition in the seed industry?

ASTA: As far as we understand it, these are not new regulatory actions by the USDA. This is simply an enhancement of the processes USDA has had in place for years,

SW: How do you foresee the increased enforcement, education and outreach efforts of the AMS impacting the seed industry as a whole?

ASTA: The companies that make up the American seed industry have always strived to comply with state and federal seed laws and the labeling requirements set forth by the Federal Seed Act. This announcement does not change that.

SW: What challenges do you anticipate in the updated varietal labeling requirements? 

ASTA: We are working to better understand the USDA’s efforts so we can relate that information to the seed industry to ensure companies continue to remain in compliance. 

SW: How do you think these USDA actions will impact consumer trust and confidence in the seed industry?

ASTA: We are confident that America’s consumers-across the board from farmers to homeowners- trust the American seed industry to supply them high-quality, professionally produced seed. 

These initiatives are part of the USDA’s ongoing efforts to improve transparency and provide farmers with clear information at the point of sale. They follow the letters sent by the USDA to executives of major seed companies in November. Additionally, the USDA plans to increase its outreach efforts, including hosting a webinar to educate producers about labeling requirements and participating in industry meetings. This webinar will build on a similar one previously produced in collaboration with the American Seed Trade Association.

For further details on the Farmer Seed Liaison Initiative, visit the USDA Seed Liaison webpage.



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