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ACGA endorses seed saving legislation

(Saturday, July 10, 2004 -- CropChoice news) -- From an ACGA news release:
Larry Mitchell, CEO of the American Corn Growers (ACGA) announced his organization's support for a bill by Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, to decriminalize the act of saving patented seed.

"The ACGA supports efforts by Congress to amend the patent law to allow farmers to save seed for their own use," said Mitchell. "Moreover, ACGA believes it was never the intent of Congress, nor of the founding fathers upon providing for patents in the Constitution, that farmers ever lose their age-old right to save seed for their own use."

The Seed Availability and Competition Act of 2004 (H.R. 4693), introduced on June 24 by Representative Kaptur, would require persons who seek to retain seed harvested from the planting of patented seeds to register with the Secretary of Agriculture and pay technology fees set by the Secretary for retaining such seed. The U.S. Department of Agriculture would then pass the technology fees on to the appropriate patent holders.

The Seed Availability and Competition Act will also impose tariffs on any imported crops, raised from patented seed exported from the U.S., from countries where comparable technology fees are not charged. The tariff would be in addition to any duty that otherwise applies, in an amount that recovers the difference between the fees paid by purchasers of the seed in the U.S. and purchasers of the exported seed in that country.

"This bill will allow farmers to save patented seed as long as a producer reports the quantity and type of seed retained and pays a technology fee to USDA," added Mitchell. "This improvement in the law will restore a farmer's fundamental right to save and exchange seed. It also improves economic equity for U.S. farmers in the highly competitive international market."

For several years, ACGA and other grassroots organizations have been working with Missouri State Rep. Wes Shoemyer on similar state-level initiatives. Shoemyer's House Bill 829 is currently pending in the Missouri House of Representatives. Other similar initiatives are pending in Ohio.

The American Corn Growers Association represents 14,000 members in 35 states. See http://www.acga.org
Contact: Larry Mitchell (202) 835-0330