By Tom Collins
WOODLAWN — The newest president of the National Farmers Union (NFU) says one of the biggest issues she hopes to champion is a farmer’s right to preserve seeds.
Katie Ward started farming in 2010 when she and her husband began raising sheep and pigs to go along with market gardening at her 100-acre farm at Woodlawn, just west of Ottawa. She joined the NFU in 2011 and was elected as the group’s president in late 2018.
The 39-year-old said that the NFU wants a new seed act for farmers that would allow them to save, reuse, exchange and sell seeds. The group argues the current laws takes power away from farmers and gives it to corporations as non-accredited plant breeders cannot register new varieties and seeds have a patent on them that disallow others from breeding them.
“We want to be able to focus on improving varieties on our farm and we want to make sure farmers are recognized for the contribution they’re making to the genetics of the seed they are using,” she said.