Seed labeling law plants security

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SALEM, Ohio – Ohioans will soon see more specific and accurate information on seed labels.

The Ohio House and Senate both passed a bill recently that modifies old laws and adds new ones regarding agricultural, vegetable and flower seed labeling practices.

The bill awaits Governor Bob Taft’s signature. If signed, it will take effect in 90 days.

Primary sponsor. James Aslanides, representative of Ohio’s 94th district, sponsored the bill.

Ohio’s 50th district representative, John Hagan, co-sponsored the bill along with several other House members.

According to Hagan, the changes and modifications were made to “level the playing field” among seed labelers.

He said this bill requires seed labelers to stay current with changing technologies. “Most of this is about just getting everybody up to speed on the technology,” he said.

Consumer protection. Hagan said the bill is also about consumer protection issues because it is important for consumers to know what they are buying.

Even small consumers would be able to see the effects of these new requirements, not just those who purchase large amounts of seed.

No opposition. The bill passed unanimously in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources committee and on the House floor.

The Senate Agriculture committee reviewed the bill and passed it with no changes. The Senate approved the bill with no dissenting votes.

Ohio Senator Larry Mumper, chair of the Senate Agriculture committee, said the bill would bring seed labeling rules and regulations up to date. He added that flower seed labeling did not previously have many guidelines, but this bill would provide uniform regulations for it.

He expects the governor will sign the bill soon.

Ohio’s first seed labeling law was passed in 1953. It was revised in 1966, and again in 1974.

Testing. The bill would prohibit the inclusion of specified information on a seed label unless the seeds have been through testing to prove the information accurate.

It also revises the requirements for percentage of germination tests for certain seed.

People who sell incorrectly labeled seed packages are no longer exempt from criminal penalties under the new law, even if steps are taken to correctly identify the seed.

Additional information would be required on the certification label on each container of each lot of seed.

New standards. The Ohio Seed Improvement Association will create standards and procedures for seed certification requirements.

Anyone who has a valid seed labeler permit and sells agricultural, vegetable or flower seeds will have to keep sales records for 18 months.

Permits. Anyone who labels agricultural or vegetable seeds in Ohio must obtain a seed labeler permit. Also, those who label flower seeds will also need a seed labeler permit. The bill revised fees for permit holders, as well.

Money. If signed, the bill would establish a seed fund. Money collected under the Agricultural Seed Law will go to the seed fund and be used to enforce seed laws.

Changes. When introduced to the House in March, the bill contained a clause eliminating the Ohio Seed Improvement Association.

However, the House Agriculture and Natural Resources committee amended the measure to give the association different responsibilities rather than eliminating it.

Not a burden. John Armstrong, Ohio Seed Improvement Association secretary/manager, said the adjustments to modernize the bill will not be a hardship for seed producers.

“The impact on the industry is really minimal from the standpoint of any additional requirements,” he said.

Even small companies will be able to meet the new regulations without difficulty, said Armstrong.

About the Author

Former reporter Janelle Skrinjar wrote for Farm and Dairy from 2005 to 2009. More Stories by Janelle Skrinjar

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