Seed World

ASTA Weighs in on USDA Climate-Smart Ag Strategy

food insecurity

The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) submitted comments in response to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) request for public comment on a climate-smart agriculture and forestry strategy. ASTA’s comments focused on the crucial role of plant breeding innovation and variety development in addressing climate change and creating new economic opportunities along the agriculture and food value chain.

“Public-private sector collaboration in the research and development of new and improved plant varieties is critical to advancing climate-smart agricultural and forestry practices,” says ASTA President & CEO Andy LaVigne. “Appropriate policies can incentivize investments in plant breeding innovation, creating new jobs and market opportunities, and boosting sustainability along the entire food value chain.”

The success of America’s farmers is directly tied to the health of the land and natural resources, and farmers understand the critical importance of protecting the environment. ASTA advocates for investments in flexible and efficient conservation programs that provide producers with the financial and technical assistance needed to conserve our nation’s most precious resources. One important tool is the use of quality cover crop seed.

“Significant use of cover crops in production agriculture is one of the most promising practices to address both the stewardship of our soils and nutrient reduction in our environment,” says LaVigne. “To ensure success, USDA conservation programs should encourage the use of professionally produced quality seed.”

In addition, ASTA encourages USDA to recognize the essential role of professionally produced, quality seed when developing policies and programs around wildfire mitigation and restoration efforts. The conservation and native seed industry plays a pivotal role in meeting demand for the right seed at the right time following wildfires and other natural disasters. This in turn supports healthy landscapes, stable ecosystems and economies, and provides critical erosion-control and biodiversity benefits.

ASTA and its members look forward to working with USDA, the Biden administration and Congress to advance critical initiatives to tackle climate change and other environmental challenges threatening the future of farming and food. Read the association’s full comments here.