3 May 2001
New group to promote seed issues

By Andrew Blake

TURMOIL in the seed industry has prompted a southern producer group to seek national support to promote British seed issues.

An alleged breeders cartel and a Ministry of Agriculture review of seed certification are key spurs to the launch of the British Association of Seed Producers.

Others include the review of NIAB trialling and Recommended Lists, a 60% cut in UK herbage seed production area since 1999, seed royalty rates and organic aid.

However, leading supplier Dalgety has already decided not to join.

With roots in WHD Seed Growers, operating largely south of the M4, the non-profit making BASP intends to recruit growers and merchants nationwide.

Founder members envisage a round table to resolve problems, with representations from leading industry groups.

We shall take the best aspects of quality seed production, keep, and develop them to the benefit of the farming and the seed industry, said chief executive David Buttle.

I would be disappointed if the major retailers did not recognise that quality producers need to be brought in, said David Neale, seed and crops business manager at Masstock Arable UK, an initial BASP member.

But Dalgety is one merchant to shy away from the venture.

Unless it adds anything that we do not already appreciate, I do not think we shall join at the moment, said national seed business manager, Barry Barker.

Grower membership of BASP is 160/year plus 50p/acre of seed.

Merchants pay 500-600/year with extra funds to come from an undecided levy on all BASP-branded seed, says treasurer and Hants grower Richard Monk.

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