The Illinois Senate has passed legislation to protect the ability of gardeners to share seeds without dealing with unnecessary bureaucratic red tape.
Sponsored by State Sen. Sam McCann (R-Plainview), Senate Bill 3130 would exempt free-to-use seed libraries from regulations developed for large-scale commercial seed companies for seed testing, record keeping, and labeling.
“We haven’t had any issues with our Department of Ag here in Illinois, but this is a proactive step to protect seed libraries from onerous regulations designed for large-scale seed companies,” said Sen. McCann.
Governments in two other states had recently attempted to apply regulations designed for large-scale seed companies to small non-profit seed libraries. These requirements can include testing large amounts of each seed variety – with the tests requiring more seed than the libraries keep on hand. Those rules can force the seed libraries to shut down.
“We need to clarify the law to ease the concerns of gardeners who became alarmed after government overreach in two other states,” said Rebecca Osland of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance. “This will help preserve bio-diversity and locally-adapted food varieties for the future. It will encourage gardening and help people to develop new skills and reduce their food bills.”
Due to concern from the Illinois Department of Agriculture, Sen McCann added an amendment stating that “Seed Libraries MAY adopt labeling/recordkeeping standards, but SHALL provide this information at the request of the Department if an investigation into an alleged violation has occurred.”
“I believe this bill protects our gardeners without increasing the threat of any new weeds spreading,” said Sen. McCann. “I hope this will encourage new seed libraries to open without fear of government overreach.”
The legislation is now headed to the Illinois House for consideration in that chamber.