OSA continued to support organic priorities in the farm bill this year, in addition to educating members of Congress, and leadership within USDA, on the importance of classical plant breeding and public cultivar development. We again collected more than 100 signatures on a letter in support of a farm bill amendment to reinvigorate classical breeding that supports the diverse and regional seed needs of farmers. We were also invited to speak at a USDA Plant Breeding Working Group listening session where stakeholders came to discuss the needs and challenges of the plant breeding community. OSA met with the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture on the topic of public plant breeding as part of a National Organic Coalition meeting earlier in the year. We had the privilege of meeting with the Secretary of Agriculture a second time in August about a genetically engineered (GE) wheat contamination event in Oregon. As part of this meeting, OSA brought a delegation of farmers and other seed stakeholders to meet with the Secretary to ask for improvements in the USDA’s oversight of experimental GE crops. OSA organized around other policy priorities, including the National Organic Program’s guidance on “Seeds, Annual Seedlings, and Plant Stock in Organic Crop Production,” a comment period on the recommendations coming out of the Advisory Committee on Biotechnology for 21st Century Agriculture (AC21), and decisions around canola planting zones in Oregon.
Kristina (Kiki) Hubbard is the director of advocacy and communications for Organic Seed Alliance. She currently leads efforts to promote policies and actions that support organic seed systems, including managing OSA’s State of Organic Seed project.