17 August 2001

FSS scare stories sowing seeds of doubt, says NFU

only be planted on the holding it was grown on, even if there is more than one holding on the IACS form.

The BSPB argued that this is the case with all FSS. It believed that farmers with more than one holding were not allowed to produce any FSS on one holding for use on another.

Roger Turner, BSPB chief executive, denied that misleading information was going out to producers from his organisation.

But he said efforts were being made to remind growers of the rules of the scheme.

Jim Reed, UKASTA chief executive, said government agencies and the industry had a responsibility to make the rules clear to growers.

A spokesman for DEFRA said there had been no change in the legislation and the department was confident it was operating the schemes correctly. &#42

By Isabel Davies

ACCUSATIONS are flying that misleading information is being used to scare producers away from using farm-saved seed (FSS).

The National Association of Agricultural Contractors and NFU are both complaining that farmers are being led to believe that using FSS could put their arable area payments at risk.

They said companies and bodies with an interest in selling certified seed were implying that the process had become more difficult and that there were complicated legal implications.

But the NAAC said there were no new rules affecting farm-saved seed this year and arable farmers should not be put off by these suggestions.

Jill Hewitt, NAAC executive officer, said: "Farm saving seed is a simple process and producers can save 25-50% of costs by using FSS as opposed to certified seed, even after royalty collection. Provided seed has been grown on the farmers own holding and is kept planted within the holding number… he is doing nothing wrong."

Paul Ibbott, chief arable adviser for the NFU, said farmers had to pay royalties, but the union was concerned by statements from the British Society of Plant Breeders and merchant organisation UKASTA which implied that failure to pay them could put area payments in jeopardy.

There was no mechanism in place for this to happen, he said. "They are alarming people by suggesting that they will lose payments. We think it oversteps the mark in creating unnecessary anxiety."

Mr Ibbott said the union was seeking clarification on one potential problem area which was the exact definition of a holding in relation to saved seed.

Rules for farm-saved oilseed rape make it clear that seed must only be planted on the holding it was grown on, even if there is more than one holding on the IACS form.

The BSPB argued that this is the case with all FSS. It believed that farmers with more than one holding were not allowed to produce any FSS on one holding for use on another.

Roger Turner, BSPB chief executive, denied that misleading information was going out to producers from his organisation.

But he said efforts were being made to remind growers of the rules of the scheme.

Jim Reed, UKASTA chief executive, said government agencies and the industry had a responsibility to make the rules clear to growers.

A spokesman for DEFRA said there had been no change in the legislation and the department was confident it was operating the schemes correctly. &#42