Testing can provide the vital information needed when deciding what cover crop seed to purchase. Pictured here is AMS Botanist Elizabeth Tatum identifying a weed seed. (AMS photo)
Cover crops are the real heroes in the world of agriculture. Their job starts after a field is harvested and ends just before the next season’s crop is planted. Expectations for cover crops are high because if they don’t produce, the next crop may suffer.
After crops are harvested each year, planting fields are left bare. Runoff from rainwater, wind, and other forms of erosion devastate planting fields by stripping essential nutrients from the soil – nutrients needed for the next growing season. In addition to the loss of vital nutrients, the exposed fields are prime real estate for noxious-weed seeds intent on stealing what is left of the field’s nutrients. Replacing the lost nutrients and removing the weedy invaders costs millions of dollars each year for farmers. Read more »
Montana is a leading producer of certified organic wheat, dry peas, lentils and flax. MOA provides the state’s organic community with valuable education, information, support, assistance, promotion, and representation. Pictured here is an organic grain operation in Montana. USDA photo courtesy of Betsy Rakola.
This is the twenty-third installment of the Organic 101 series that explores different aspects of the USDA organic regulations.
According to a 2014 USDA Economic Research Service report, consumer demand for organically produced products continues to show double-digit growth. This year, the Montana Organic Association’s (MOA) annual meeting highlighted the sector’s ongoing growth with its theme of Organic Business: Benefitting Producers and Consumers. As USDA’s Organic Policy Advisor, I represented USDA at MOA’s conference and presented information about USDA’s support for the growing organic community.
MOA’s mission is to advocate for and promote organic agriculture for the highest good of the people, the environment and the state’s economy. The conference brought in over 200 people, a large number in a rural state with just over 200 certified organic operations. MOA President Nate Brown noted, “The Montana Organic Association annual conference is our biggest event of the year and has been the lifeblood of the organization for the past 12 years. We feel the conference is a great way to bring together Montana’s organic community every year for a weekend of learning and socializing in order to keep up with the growing organic market in our state.” Read more »
Gardeners, farmers and dreamers are finding it’s a good time to think about the variety of seeds and plants for spring. AMS Plant Variety Protection Office (PVPO) grants certificates of intellectual property protection to encourage the development of new varieties of plants. Photo courtesy of Stacey Shintani.
While most of the country is braving cold and blustery winter conditions, farmers and gardeners are busy looking ahead to the spring. They are contemplating the variety of seeds or the plants that they will use. The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) increases the options for our farmers, gardeners, and plant breeders by making sure there is an abundance of varieties available.
We do this through our Plant Variety Protection Office (PVPO), which grants certificates of intellectual property protection to developers of new plant varieties. These certificates enable breeders to market their variety exclusively for 20 years. The protection is an incentive for the development of new and improved varieties. Read more »
Like other organic products, seeds used in organic agriculture cannot be genetically engineered or be treated with prohibited substances.
This is the twenty-second installment of the Organic 101 series that explores different aspects of the USDA organic regulations.
The fall harvest is in, and organic farmers are already looking forward to planting their spring seedlings. Organic farmers rely on organic seeds to meet the growing demand for certified organic products. These seeds are essential to the integrity of the supply chain for quality organic food, feed and other products. All organic producers must use organic seeds, annual seedlings and planting stock unless organic varieties are not commercially available.
To meet the increased demand for organic seeds, the National Organic Program (NOP), part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service is collaborating and sharing information with the Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) and its partner, the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA), to better understand the organic seed market and to help farmers locate seed producers and supplies. Read more »
AMS’s Seed Regulatory and Testing Division scientist conducts a test to detect the presence of harmful pathogens in grass seed. USDA photo.
Before the late 1800’s, there weren’t any standards or laws overseeing the seed trade. This allowed individuals to take advantage of the unorganized seed market by selling low quality seed to buyers. In some instances, what was sold wasn’t even seed at all.
Unfortunately, even the most seasoned seed buyers can’t always tell what they will get when purchasing seed. Will the seed grow? If it does grow, what will it grow into? Will these seeds contain a disease that will hurt my other crops? Will the packet contain other unwanted weeds that will reduce my yield, hurt my animals, or destroy my land? The worst part is that the outcome of your purchase won’t be known for months after you buy and “try” to grow them. In the late 1800’s, these questions asked by millions of people around the world led to the rapid development of laboratories tasked with using science to predict seed quality. Read more »
The international seed trade plays an intricate role in what we call the American way of life, providing us the products we know and love.
Did you know that corn and soybeans account for 50 percent of the harvested acres in the United States? Together, these two commodities had $106 billion in sales in 2012—not bad for products that start off as humble seeds. The U.S. seed industry is valued at more than $7 billion, and accounts for 34 percent of the world’s international seed trade. Our top seed exports are corn, soybean and sunflower seeds. And the international seed trade plays an intricate role in what we call the American way of life, providing us the products we know and love.
In today’s global market, limitations in manufacturing capabilities, shifts in climate, or simple geography all impact a country’s ability to satisfy all of its own needs. This means economies and agriculture systems around the globe are interconnected. Through trade, countries are able to market their resources to boost their economies and ensure access to a stable supply of food and products. Read more »