June __, 2015
RE: Letter of Support for Proposed Amendment to RUSSL to Promote Non-Commercial Seed Sharing Activities
Dear Mr. Malone,
On behalf of the more than ___ undersigned seed libraries from across the United States and Canada, I write to express my strong support for the proposed amendment to the Recommended Uniform State Seed Law (RUSSL) to promote non-commercial seed sharing activities by exempting them from the labeling and testing requirements under the model law. Seed sharing through seed libraries, at seed swaps, and between individuals is a timeless and vitally important tradition to support locally adapted seeds, promote access to healthy and culturally significant foods, and educate communities on the important skills of saving seeds.
Seed libraries are community-based organizations dedicated to the charitable and educational missions of providing free seed to the public to encourage gardening, promote seed saving skills, and empower people to become food secure by growing their own food. Across the country, more than 300 seed libraries are creating more resilient local food systems by sharing heirloom, open-pollinated seeds within their communities and developing a network of increasingly skilled seed savers in the process. In urban and rural communities, seed libraries exist as hubs for building community, sharing information, and preserving culture.
RUSSL, and the state seed laws it informs, was written with the intent to regulate the commercial trade in seeds. The labeling, permitting, and testing requirements under the law appropriately further that purpose by ensuring that purchasers can rely on the quality of the seeds sold by seed companies. The law, however, never contemplated applying these rules to non-commercial, community-based seed sharing activities like seed libraries. If applied to seed libraries, these rules would create enormous cost and resource barriers for seed libraries that would likely result in seed libraries closing their doors nationwide.
Now, more than ever, we need to encourage, not prohibit, all people to become skilled seed savers and food producers to maintain a strong, sustainable, and resilient food system. Seed libraries offer a practical and responsible path forward in meeting this goal.
Therefore, I respectfully ask that the Association of American Seed Control Officials vote to pass the proposed amendment to RUSSL promoting non-commercial seed sharing activities.