I'm a student at Iowa State University. I'm doing research
on organic soybean farming, and I was wondering if you might
answer a question for me. What are the main ways organic soybean
farmers get their seed? For example, do most of them go through
local distributors, or order them directly from the dealer,
etc? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
I'm always glad to hear from students working in the area
of organic research. I'll try to answer your question completely,
but if you need more information please do not hesitate to
email me back.
As of October 2002, the federal rule for organic agriculture
took affect. In this rule, it states that farmers need to
use organically produced seed whenever and wherever it is
commercially available. (View
the entire rule here) If organic seed is unavailable—and
a documented search must be made available to the certifying
inspector—untreated conventional seed may be used. Under
no circumstances can treated seed be used.
Most farmers use seed purchased through normal seed channels;
this includes dealers, distributors, or brokers. There are
certain seed companies that are specializing in organic seed
production, such as NC+ Organics in Nebraska and Great Harvest
Organics in Indiana. A farmer can use any seed supplier provided
he or she uses untreated seed and can demonstrate that they
have performed a search to find it organically. Some farmers
save their own seed if they are planting non-hybrid seed or
buy from another farmer that produces seed for sale.
I hope that helps.
Look for an upcoming New Farm feature to learn how some
seed companies, nonprofit organizations, and publicly funded
universities are working together to increase the number
of regionally adapted varieties of cash crops for which
organic seed is available.
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