28 July 1995

Seed royalty rate bargain say breeders

PLANT breeders have hit out at NFU opposition to farm-saved royalty rates, claiming a 70% rate, discounted for two years, is a bargain.

Mobile seed cleaners also joined the row, giving their support to the NFUs argument that the planned phased rate set by UK breeders is not "sensibly lower" than the C2 rate.

The National Association of Agricultural Contractors mobile seed cleaning section also confirmed it would offer moral support to farmers prepared to contest breeders "excessive royalty demands" in the courts.

The British Society of Plant Breeders warned that a rate of 30%, backed by the NFU and the European Parliaments agriculture committee, would undermine the UKs plant breeding effort.

BSPB chief executive Don McNeil said the 70% rate, discounted in the first two years, equates to about £2/acre rising to about £3/acre.

"Thats a bargain for the farm saver and the NFU knows it," he added.

Mr McNeil said NFU leader Sir David Naish says he wants an all industry solution. "If he means it, then he should address the fundamental truth about what a 30% rate will fund. It isnt sensibly lower, its disastrously lower and based on a number plucked from the air."

But the BSPBs planned collection scheme also came under fire from the mobile cleaners. They say breeders plan to force them to hand over client files to compile a hit list of farmers using saving seed. Les Peck, chairman of the NACC mobile seed cleaning section, said this was "totally unacceptable".

BSPB vice-chairman Anthony Keeling said breeders were within their rights, under EU rules.

Liz Mason

to ask cleaners to provide details of their work. The notice to processors would require them to detail the clients holding and the seed processed.

Separate provisions for information existed under EU law for farmers, he said. They would be required to notify BSPB of their use of farm seed of those varieties liable for royalty payments.

&#8226 Royalty rates for re-using certified seed will be determined nationally, the European Commission has officially agreed.