AGREEMENT has been reached between the British Society of Plant Breeders and UK farm unions which will allow farmers continued free use of farm-saved seed on older UK-listed varieties of combinable crops.
The agreement is seen by the unions as a breakthrough for farmers. Earlier this year, when the UK plant varieties Bill entered parliament, it looked like growers would lose their royalty-free status on older cereal varieties, licensed before Sept 1994, from June 2001.
Anthony Keeling, BSPB chairman, said the agreement had been reached following long talks. "It will allow farmers to continue using varieties such as Chariot spring barley, Riband winter wheat and Solara combining pea into the new millennium without farm-saved seed payment."
Phil Hudson, NFU cereals specialist, said he was entirely happy with the result.