Farm Saved Seed rules, eligible species for payment and how to declare and make payments online.

Introduction

If you are a grower or farmer, you may use seed that you have saved for your own use to grow and harvest a crop - this is known as Farm Saved Seed (FSS).

Under section 9 of the Plant Varieties Act 1997, farmers must declare all their use of FSS and pay for their use of eligible varieties. These payments support continued investment in improved varieties, bred for UK conditions.

This guide explains which FSS species are eligible for payment, and how growers and farmers can ensure they have complied with the FSS rules. It also explains how to declare and make payments for FSS online.

Plant breeders’ rights

Plant breeding has vastly improved the yield, quality and performance of agricultural crops in the UK. It remains a vital industry to keep Great Britain internationally competitive.

Plant breeders’ rights give the breeder legal rights over the plant varieties they have developed and allow them to charge royalties for using these ‘protected’ varieties. If you are a breeder, this can provide funding for your work.

In the UK, PBR are administered by the Plant Variety Rights Team in Cambridge which is part of the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

FSS is seed planted on a farmer’s own land using seed harvested from their own holding. Your ‘own holding’ may have more than one farm, as long as all holdings are managed as the same business. By law, you cannot market, purchase, transfer or give seed from one business to another for subsequent re-planting.

See the guide on plant breeders’ rights (PBR).

How to comply with the FSS rules

You must declare all your use of FSS to the British Society of Plant Breeders (BSPB) and pay remuneration on eligible varieties.

The legal requirement to declare applies whether the seed has been processed or taken straight from the barn.

If you receive an FSS declaration request from the BSPB, you are legally obliged to make a declaration to provide them with the specified information set out in Regulation 3 of the Plant Breeders’ Rights (Farm Saved Seed) (Specified Information) Regulations 1998. You may do this using the BSPB declaration form or by other appropriate means.

Cereals

Under the Plant Varieties Act 1997, farmers must declare and pay for all eligible varieties of FSS they use to the BSPB.

The BSPB collects royalties on FSS from growers for the following cereals:

  • oats
  • barley
  • triticale
  • wheat

However, the BSPB and the UK farming unions have agreed that you do not need to pay for the genuine use of certain older varieties as FSS. These formerly zero-rated varieties now qualify for a 100 per cent instant refund:

  • chariot (19/12/2015)
  • soissons (1/5/2015)

This refund is subject to verification of the variety’s identity.

See the BSPB website for information on payment rates and eligible varieties for combinable crops.

Certification, marketing, packaging and labelling of cereal seed

If you produce and/or market cereal seed, your seed must be certified by APHA before it can be marketed. If you attempt to market seed that has not been certified, you could face legal action.

To be certified, the seed must be a variety on the UK National List or in the European Community Common Catalogue. Your crop must also be inspected and a sample from your seed lot must be tested. NIAB deals with all the applications for seed certification. You must lodge a crop inspection report with NIAB within one month of receiving it.

You must be registered with APHA before you can market seed covered by the cereal seed regulations. Packages of seed must be properly sealed and labelled, usually by a licensed seed sampler.

See the guide on National Listing of agricultural and vegetable crops.

Fodder plants

Under the Plant Varieties Act 1997, farmers must declare and pay for all eligible varieties of FSS they use to the BSPB.

The BSPB collects royalties on FSS from growers for these fodder plants:

  • yellow lupin
  • field pea
  • field bean

Fodder plant seeds marketing

Your seed must be officially certified by the APHA seed team, if you produce and/or market these fodder seeds in England:

  • fine grasses including annual meadowgrass, brown top, creeping bent grass, festulolium, red fescuse, red top, wood meadowgrass and similar
  • fodder grasses including Alaska brome-grass, cocksfoot, hybrid ryegrass, meadow fescue, tall oatgrass, Timothy and similar
  • small seeded legumes including Alsike clover, birdsfoot trefoil, lucerne, red clover, sainfoin and similar
  • large seeded legumes including blue lupin, field bean, field pea, hairy vetch, yellow lupin and similar
  • crucifers including fodder kale, fodder radish and swede

Your seed will be certified if it meets these conditions:

  • listing - the seed must be a variety or a hybrid on the UK National List or European Community Common Catalogue
  • crop inspection - your crop must be inspected and must meet prescribed crop conditions
  • seed testing - a sample from your seed lot must be tested and must meet prescribed seed conditions

It is permitted to market certain combinations of fodder plant seeds and other species, but you need to be registered to market certified seed. All certified seed, including mixtures, must be packaged, sealed and officially labelled in line with the regulations. APHA maintains a record of all registered seed mixtures and preservation mixtures.

You could face legal action if you do not comply with the regulations.

Oil and fibre plants

Under the Plant Varieties Act 1997, farmers must declare and pay for all eligible varieties of FSS they use to the BSPB.

The BSPB collects royalties on FSS from growers for the following oil and fibre plants:

  • swede rape
  • linseed, excluding flax

Certification, marketing and packaging of oil and fibre plant seed

If you produce and/or market oil and fibre plant seeds, your seed must be certified by Fera before it can be marketed. To become certified, the seed must be a variety or hybrid on the UK National List or in the European Community Common Catalogue.

See the guide on National Listing of agricultural and vegetable crops.

Your crop must also be inspected and a sample from your seed lot tested. You could face legal action if you do not comply with the regulations.

NIAB deals with all applications for seed certification. This includes arranging crop inspections to ensure the crop meets specified standards. You must lodge a crop inspection report with NIAB within one month of receiving it.

If certification is withdrawn from a seed lot, you must notify anyone you have marketed the seed to within seven days of receiving the notice.

If you are marketing imported seed, you must supply APHA with the following details within a month of marketing the seed:

  • species
  • variety
  • category
  • quantity
  • country of production
  • official inspection authority
  • country of dispatch
  • importer

Packages of seed must be properly sealed and labelled, usually by a licensed seed sampler.

Potatoes

Under the Plant Varieties Act 1997, farmers must declare and pay for all eligible varieties of FSS they use to the BSPB.

The BSPB collects royalties on FSS from growers of eligible potato varieties.

FSS potato rates for each eligible potato variety are set by the variety owners. See the BSPB website for information on eligible varieties for potatoes.

Under plant health regulations, potatoes can only be sown as FSS for one generation after certified seed. Growers who have purchased certified seed of potato varieties eligible for FSS payments will automatically receive an FSS declaration form to complete and return to BSPB the following year.

Beet seeds

If you produce and/or market beet seed, your seed must be certified by APHA before it can be marketed. To be certified, the seed must be a variety on the UK National List or in the European Community Common Catalogue. For more information, see the guide on agricultural and vegetable crops: the National Lists.

Your crop must also be inspected and a sample from your seed lot must be tested. NIAB deals with all applications for seed certification. You must lodge a crop inspection report with NIAB within one month of receiving it.

If certification is withdrawn from a seed lot, you must notify anyone you have marketed the seed to within seven days of receiving the notice. You must be registered with APHA before you can market seed covered by the beet seed regulations.

Packages of seed must be properly sealed and labelled, usually by a licensed seed sampler.

You may face legal action if you do not comply with the regulations.

Declaring and paying for FSS

There are several key FSS rules that farmers must follow. As a farmer, you:

  • must declare all the FSS you use, whether it is eligible for payment or zero-rated. You must pay for eligible varieties. However, small farmers - as defined under EU law - are exempt and do not have to pay for their use of FSS
  • can only use FSS that has been produced and saved within your own business - ie land farmed as the same business
  • cannot market, sell, barter or transfer FSS outside your own holding

These FSS rules always apply, whether the seed has been processed or taken straight from the barn.

Reporting FSS use

You can report your FSS use to the BSPB using any of these four methods:

  • send back the declaration form in the envelope provided
  • email the BSPB at fss@bspb.co.uk
  • make an online declaration for combinable crops and/or potatoes on the BSPB website
  • call the BSPB Farm Saved Seed Helpline on Tel 01353 653 209

Who sets the payment rates on FSS?

FSS payment rates for each combinable crop species are published annually by the BSPB. These are based on the terms of an agreement between BSPB and the farming unions. The exception is potatoes where breeders set the rate individually by variety.

Who collects FSS payments and where does the money go?

BSPB collects FSS payments on behalf of plant breeders. Administration costs for the UK system amount to just seven pence per £1 collected, significantly less than equivalent systems in other EU member states. The remaining income is disbursed to individual plant breeders.

How can farmers pay BSPB to collect FSS payments?

There are two ways to pay BSPB for using eligible seed varieties:

  • via your National Association of Agricultural Contractors or BSPB-registered seed processor as a component of the processing invoice at a tonnage rate - most farmers pay this way
  • direct to the BSPB at a hectarage rate - for farmers who have not paid through their seed processor, or who have sown straight from the barn

BSPB publishes tonnage and hectarage rates annually.

See information on FSS declarations and payments on the Fair Play website.

See information about FSS payments on the BSPB website.

Contact BSPB

BSPB is responsible for collecting FSS payments. You can contact the BSPB at the following address:

British Society of Plant Breeders Ltd (BSPB)
BSPB House
114 Lancaster Way Business Park
Ely
Cambs
CB6 3NX

You can also call the BSPB Farm Saved Seed Helpline on 01353 653 209 or email them at fss@bspb.co.uk.