Seeds for the Future Act

Sprouting seedlings. Photo credit: USDA.

The Seeds for the Future Act

H.R. 5208/S. 2964

The Seeds for the Future Act of 2018 (H.R. 5208/S. 2964) was introduced on March 7, 2018 by Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Darren Soto (D-FL) in the House, and introduced on May 24, 2018 in the Senate by Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). This bicameral bill will help to secure our diverse seed stocks for years to come by increasing investment in publicly available, farmer-ready cultivars. It also works to ensure that grants for seed breeding projects provide researchers the appropriate amount of time to finish their work, so that they can accomplish cultivar goals such as providing farmers with seeds that work for a diversity of farming systems and locations. The bill will also re-authorize crucial seed-breeding programs and enhance public research by coordinating projects across agencies.

Specifically, the bill will:

Empower and address the needs of farmers and stakeholders:

  • Require that at least $50 million annually go to farmer-ready public cultivar development
  • Prioritize projects based on regional and national listening sessions and identifying/addressing problems across stakeholder areas
  • Address farmer needs for more regionally adapted cropping systems choices

Ensure that funding is going to projects that focus on farmer-ready cultivars:

  • Securefunding for seed breeding programs across all competitive grants under the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) within the USDA
  • Ensure that funding reaches intended projects by clarifying the definitions of “public cultivar” and “conventional breeding” in statute

Make existing programs more efficient: 

  • Assign designated personnel, who report to the Secretary, to coordinate breeding efforts within USDA’s Office of the Chief Scientist
  • Require that reporting on competitive grant programs outline 1) progress in meeting targets, 2) lists of cultivars developed, 3) gaps in breeding, and 4) future public cultivar research investments needs

Encourage commitment to seed diversification and regional adaptation:

  • Reauthorize the National Genetics Resources Program with the specific charge of establishing a national strategic germplasm collection assessment and utilization plan; ensure that the plan includes specific recommendations on USDA funding levels for revitalization of national germplasm collections and public cultivar development

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Take Action Today

  • Check out our Take Action! page for ways to get involved in the 2018 Farm Bill process