The Kansas Department of Agriculture recently hosted two meetings on August 18 in Hays, KS and August 23 in Manhattan, KS to discuss changes to the Kansas Seed Program. Jeff Vogel and Scott Marsh, both with KDA, talked about challenges facing the Seed Program and potential changes to meet the needs of seed customers and seed industry stakeholders.
With the current reorganization occurring in the Department of Agriculture, the Seed Program is in the process of moving from the Agricultural Commodities Assurance Program (ACAP) to the Plant Protection and Weed Control Program (PPWC). Currently there are five inspectors across the state employed by PPWC with talks of hiring an additional inspector in North Central Kansas to help with the increased work load that the Seed Program will bring.
Under the PPWC, seed inspectors for the Seed Program will be making 300 random visits statewide to inspect seed labels for compliance with the seed law. They also will be collecting one sample of seed at each location to be sent into the Kansas Crop Improvement Association for analysis. Seed inspectors would follow up with non-compliant labels and seed analysis violations and can order a “stop-sale” all the way up to a license suspension for that individual or business. Seed inspectors also plan on following up with complaints received against seed industry stakeholders.
At both meetings, a consensus among the seed industry stakeholders in attendance was to not open the Kansas Seed Law. Stakeholders felt that opening the Seed Law could lead to negative consequences from outside organizations that would outweigh the changes the seed industry would like to make. Therefore, KDA focused on changes to the Seed Regulations that they could make without opening the Seed Law.
State Weeds Specialist, Scott Marsh discussed proposed changes to the seed regulations. One major change to the seed regulations was the addition of a minimum germination standard for both crop seed and grass seed in Kansas. As of now, no standards have been set for the kinds of crop and grass seed and would only be set with comments and feedback from seed industry stakeholders. However, most people in attendance at both meetings felt that a minimum germination standard may be hard to set and enforce and ultimately is not needed at this time.
Seed inspection funding challenges were brought up by Jeff Vogel. Under ACAP, the Seed Program received additional funding from outside fees to help cover seed inspection costs. Under the Plant Protection and Weed Control Program, the Seed Program will be expected to fully fund itself from its own license fees. Current costs in the program for salary and wages, seed analysis contract with KCIA, vehicle, IT and sampling equipment, and overhead is around $130-135,000 with current revenue from license fees around $75,000. Jeff Vogel felt that one possible solution to address the budgeting shortfall is to increase state seed license fees. Most people in attendance at both meetings were supportive of the increase in fees Vogel was proposing as long as it meant that the Seed Program and seed inspectors did their inspections adequately and followed up and investigated illegal seed matters more thoroughly.
If you would like more information about the Seed Program, the Plant Protection and Weed Control Program, or provide feedback over what was discussed at both of these seed meetings contact Scott Marsh or Jeff Vogel with the Kansas Department of Agriculture at (785) 564-6697.