The centuries-old practice of sharing seeds is one step closer to receiving new protections from government overreach, thanks to legislation filed by State Sen. Sam McCann (R-Plainview).
Senate Bill 3130 would exempt non-profit, cooperative, and governmental seed libraries from regulations developed for large scale commercial seed companies for seed testing, record keeping, and labeling.
“I’ve always said that good, limited government should only be as big as absolutely necessary, and not one ounce larger,” said Senator McCann. “Our state government should not be attempting to regulate home gardeners and small seed libraries the same way as large agribusinesses.”
Seed libraries are typically set up by communities, gardening clubs, schools, and even traditional libraries for the purposes of sharing seeds with other non-commercial growers.
In recent years, some other state agriculture departments had started interpreting regulations designed for commercial seed production to include small seed libraries. These may include testing thousands of seeds for purity and variety, greatly exceeding both the financial and seed resources of the small libraries. These onerous requirements are effectively forcing them to shut down. McCann’s legislation is designed to preemptively prevent the same type of government overreach in Illinois.
“I’ve been told that several communities are interested in starting libraries, but are worried about future action by the state,” said Senator McCann. “This will help those projects move forward and keep government regulators out of our gardens.”
The legislation passed the Senate Agriculture Committee, but Senator McCann has promised to return with an amendment to ensure adequate protections are in place against noxious weeds and contaminated seeds.
| Senator Sam McCann is joined by proponents of the legislation on the Illinois Senate floor. Pictured from left to right, Andy Heck (Illinois Stewardship Alliance), Senator McCann, Rebecca Osland (Illinois Stewardship Alliance), Jen Dillman (genHkids).