Angry Farmers Will Protest “Dangerous" Seed Law
SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - June 24, 2015 - In support of small farmers and consumers the California Grange will sponsor Seed Freedom Day on July 1, 2015.
Seed Freedom Day will celebrate our agricultural heritage and raise objections to an amendment to California’s “Seed Law”, enacted by state legislators last August.
California Assembly Bill 2470 (AB 2470) is bad law that seriously impairs the right of farmers to share and sell their seeds, gives the Secretary of Agriculture authority to decide what can and cannot be grown in California counties and cities, and gives corporations the same legal rights and protections as people.
“Farmers and consumers should be angry. AB 2470 is dangerous law,” warns California Grange President Bob McFarland.
“AB 2470 is disguised as a weed abatement measure. But in black & white, the bill goes far beyond that purpose and puts more onerous regulations on the backs of small farmers already struggling to make a living and preserve their unadulterated heirloom seeds. This unjust bill does little more to prevent the spread of weeds, but it certainly exterminates beneficial seed sharing traditions that have been practiced by humankind for more than 10,000 years.”
AB 2470 makes it illegal for a farmer to “offer for sale, expose for sale, possess for sale, exchange, barter or trade” their seeds beyond an arbitrary three mile limit from their farm to “neighbors”, unless they adhere to a strict and onerous packaging process. Under this law a farmer is not allowed to share seeds at a swap meet over three miles from their farm, or exchange seeds with a friend who lives more than three miles down the road, without jumping through the same regulatory hoops designed for giant commercial seed retailers, like Monsanto. AB 2470 creates unfair competition and threatens the distribution of organic seeds, favoring genetically modified (GMO) seeds. Farmers are crying “FOUL!”
Another ominous provision under AB 2470 provides that any ordinance adopted by a county or municipality after January 1, 2015 that would restrict the production of GMO crops is subject to a veto by the California Secretary of Agriculture. Even though representatives of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) have hinted that Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross will make “administrative regulations” promising this authority will not be exercised, the language of the bill remains unchanged. Farmers are rightfully concerned that any future Secretary of Agriculture may not be as lenient. The solution is to change the language of the law or repeal it.
On July 1, the California Grange will sponsor Seed Freedom Day. Farmers and consumers across the state will celebrate our agricultural heritage. As an act of protest, farmers will draw a white line marking three miles from their farm and stand inside that line holding seeds they’ve produced. At exactly twelve noon, farmers and supporters will simultaneously step across the line with seeds in hand, defying the unfair provisions of AB 2470.
For more information and to participate in Seed Freedom Day, go to: www.californiagrange.org/seeds, or phone the office of the California Grange at (916) 454-5805.
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