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
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.
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
I hope that helps.
Editor’s note: 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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