22 March 1996

Union approves seed royalty rates

NFU council has adopted the package agreed with plant breeders on royalty rates for farm-saved seed.

The agreement is based on a single payment rate for each crop based on the area grown (News, Mar 15). The NFU said the levy on average yields would equate to about 60p/t harvested.

Royalties are payable only on cereals protected by European plant variety rights and anyone who can prove they had saved a variety before Sept 1, 1994, will not have to pay royalty on that variety until 2001.

Payments will begin for crops sown this autumn after the British Society of Plant Breeders decided to waive its right to collect money for autumn 1995 or spring 1996.

The NFU said royalty rates would be discussed with plant breeders annually with a full review of the scheme in two years time.

An agreement has been reached with the National Association of Agricultural Contractors over royalty collections when farmers are billed for seed cleaning. The NFU said talks were under way with the supply trade body UKASTA to reach a similar arrangement for seed cleaned and processed by its members.

NFU president Sir David Naish said the agreement followed much hard bargaining and he hoped the package would ensure the future of crop breeding in the UK. He added that the union hoped to reach agreement soon on rates for pulses and oilseeds. &#42