Farm-saved seed – a warning

Farm-saved seed – a warning

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

As we move into the period of autumn cultivations, and clients continue the search for ways to cut a cost here and there, some will look in the barn, consider the cost of fresh seed, and decide that maybe this year they’ll take some of their own best sample, have it dressed and save a few pounds.

There is, however, a hidden complication. Most modern seed varieties are, effectively, protected by copyright. The royalties are collected by the British Society of Plant Breeders (BSPB), and last year amounted to over £10 million. BSPB believes that there’s still a significant level of under-declaration.

More detailed information about farmers’ legal obligations on farm-saved seed (FSS) is available on the FAIR PLAY campaign website, but the main issues in law are:

  • All use of farm-saved seed must be declared to BSPB.
  • Farm-saved seed must be produced and saved within a farmer's own holding (i.e. land farmed as the same business).
  • Farm-saved seed rules apply whether seed has been processed or taken straight from the barn.
  • Farmers cannot sell, buy, barter or otherwise transfer farm-saved seed outside their own holding.
  • The use of farm-saved seed from hybrid varieties is not permitted.

Details of eligible varieties and FSS payment rates are published annually by BSPB. Declaration forms are sent out each year in November for autumn plantings and in May for spring plantings.

To share your thoughts about the above, contact me on 0330 024 0888 or email

Stephen Coby

Originally written by David Missen on behalf of MHA MacIntyre Hudson.


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