2 June 1995

NFU slam breeders royalty pay-outs

NFU officials have slammed European plant breeders plans to collect 80% royalty payments on farm-saved seed.

John Malcolm, NFU arable director, said 80% was "a wholly indecent rate". But UK plant breeders claim 80%, phased in over three years, is not excessive (Arable, p49).

Mr Malcolm said the Brussels standing committee, responsible for passing the EU farm-saved rules, is close to accepting the latest version of the implementing regulation. He added that it was "a very great improvement" on earlier drafts, which would have required an excessive amount of information from farmers. But it was still unlikely to set a payment rate.

The NFU remained willing to discuss the issue with British breeders in the hope of reaching an agreement both sides could accept, said Mr Malcolm.

But the "gung-ho approach" of the European breeders group COMESO, who walked out of the last meeting, was unhelpful.

Having demanded 80% the group believed the regulations would give them the right to collect 80% and their official position was "see you in court", he added.

Euro-MPs from all parties last week called on the standing committee responsible for the implementing rules to set a rate and they backed the NFUs call for a modest rate of between 35%-40%. But Mr Malcolm was not optimistic that this would be accepted by the committee. &#42