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seed regulatory and testing division

Cover Crops: Agriculture's Hero

Cover crops are the real heroes in the world of agriculture. Their job starts after a field is harvested and ends just before the next season’s crop is planted. Expectations for cover crops are high because if they don’t produce, the next crop may suffer.

After crops are harvested each year, planting fields are left bare. Runoff from rainwater, wind, and other forms of erosion devastate planting fields by stripping essential nutrients from the soil – nutrients needed for the next growing season. In addition to the loss of vital nutrients, the exposed fields are prime real estate for noxious-weed seeds intent on stealing what is left of the field’s nutrients. Replacing the lost nutrients and removing the weedy invaders costs millions of dollars each year for farmers.

Taking the Summer On: AMS Interns Gain Valuable Experience

Without farmers and the agricultural businesses that support them, no one can eat. This is a simple concept, but it implies that people will continue to choose careers in agriculture. Here at USDA, one of the ways that we encourage younger generations to choose these careers is offering grants to institutions that offer agricultural curriculums. 

Through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), USDA enables students to expand their knowledge of the agricultural industry. NIFA provides grants to schools such as the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (UPRM) through the Hispanic Serving Institutions Program. This allows these institutions to offer top-notch agricultural curriculums.

USDA’s Seed Regulatory and Testing Division Offers Services to Assist the Industry

The Federal Seed Act (FSA) is a truth-in–labeling law that regulates the interstate shipment of agricultural and vegetable seed.  The FSA is enforced with the aid of cooperative agreements between the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and each of the fifty state departments of agriculture.  Enforcement of the FSA is one of the responsibilities of the AMS Seed Regulatory and Testing Division.

State seed inspectors, trained by the Seed Regulatory Testing Division and authorized by AMS, obtain official samples of seed which are initially tested by their state seed laboratory.  While state seed laboratories participating in FSA enforcement routinely test official seed samples for mechanical purity, germination and noxious weed-seeds, they often don’t have the ability to test seed to verify varietal labeling.