In 2014, several states began cracking down on small seed libraries, claiming that these free, public seed exchanges were required to comply with commercial seed laws and seed testing requirements, regulations that would make it virtually impossible for the seed libraries to continue to operate. Seeing this happen in other states, several seed libraries in Illinois contacted Illinois Stewardship Alliance to see what we could do about preventing such over-regulation from shutting down libraries in our own state. Since then we have written and championed legislation with the purpose of clarifying the Illinois seed law in order to ensure that seed libraries and other non-commercial seed swaps are free from overbearing regulations. While at first glance it seems like it should be non-controversial that people should be able to save non-patented seeds and exchange them with their neighbors as they’ve been doing for thousands of years, we’ve run up against some major opposition from powerful institutional interests and regulators. These institutions would prefer to have control over free seed exchanges and keep lists of who is sharing seeds and when they are sharing them.
If you think it’s your right to freely save and share heirloom and open-pollinated seeds, then let your state senator know. Ask your state senator to support SB3130 by filling out this simple form. It will shoot an email straight from your email account to their inbox and it only takes 2 minutes! Don’t know who your senator is? No worries, the form will use your zip-code to automatically look up the senator for your area. And then if SB3130 passes later this month, you can brag to your friends that you were part of changing the law! That’s powerful stuff friends. You’ve got the power, use it.
If you want to learn more about exactly what this bill does and doesn’t do, then check out the flyer below and share it with your friends. In order to pass this bill we need as much support from the Illinois community as we can get. You can also share the automatic email form, just copy and paste onto Facebook, twitter, or whichever social media platform you fancy: http://bit.ly/Seed-Libraries
Note: In early 2016 the two states (Minnesota and Pennsylvania) that began cracking down on seed libraries reversed course and passed new legislation to exempts seed libraries and free seed exchanges from complying with commercial seed regulations. Nebraska also did the same. If they can do it there, we can do it here!