• Q1.

    I have 5 tonnes of farm-saved wheat seed left over. The FSS payment was made when it was processed. Can I sell or give it to my neighbour?


    No, it is against the law to transfer FSS from one holding to another for sowing. Any transaction – whether free, bartered or charged – constitutes a transfer of ownership and this is against the law.


    If the FSS is surplus to requirements or cannot be sown, it may be carried over for planting the following year without further payment, although it is advisable to have seed tested prior to planting as the vigour and germination of FSS can deteriorate over time.


  • Q2.

    Can I have my FSS certified in order to sell or transfer it legitimately?


    No, FSS cannot be certified retrospectively.


    Certified seed must be produced from an officially entered seed crop which has been field inspected by a licensed crop inspector and complies with all legal standards.


    Inspection of the growing crop is a key principle of seed certification, providing an assurance of seed health, purity and provenance, and that the certified seed crop has been produced and inspected in accordance with regulatory requirements.


  • Q3.

    I have several tonnes of dressed FSS in the barn which I was unable to sow. Can I claim a refund on the FSS royalty already paid to the processor?


    You could request a refund for any surplus FSS, although this could result in paying a higher royalty if the seed is sown the following season as payment rates are calculated annually under the terms of the FSS agreement between BSPB and the farming unions.


    If a refund is made but no FSS use is declared the following season, BSPB may seek confirmation that the seed has been disposed of in accordance with the legal requirements for chemically treated seed, for example via the waste disposal note.


  • Q4.

    A contractor is now farming my land. Who should make the FSS declaration?


    Under most contracting arrangements the farmer maintains control of his business accounts, which is where the responsibility and accountability for FSS declaration and payment will lie.


    A farmer can delegate the responsibility for FSS declaration to a contractor by notifying BSPB, but ultimately the owner of the holding and recipient of the single farm payment is responsible for ensuring compliance on all legal matters.


  • Q5.

    Can I ask my processor to clean and treat grain that I have bought in so that I can sow it as seed if I make the FSS payment?


    No, it is against the law to use any bought-in grain to establish a crop. By law, farm-saved seed must be sown by the business that produced the previous crop. Certified seed must have been sown to establish the initial crop.


  • Q6.

    My farm is organic and a processor never puts a dressing on my seed. Why do I have to make farm-saved seed payments to BSPB?


    Payment for FSS use recognises and rewards the genetic value contained in a plant variety and applies whether seed has been cleaned and dressed or taken straight from the barn.


    Royalties on certified seed and farm-saved seed payments support continued investment in the development of improved varieties to meet ever changing disease, pest, climatic and market demands.


  • Q7.

     I drilled a field but ran short of seed near the end and topped up the drill with some grain I had in the barn. What do I need to do?


    If this was grain from your own harvest, simply declare the area sown with top-up seed to BSPB in the usual way. BSPB will then invoice you for the FSS payment for the variety and area sown.


    Please note however, that if the grain in question was bought in, perhaps as livestock feed, it would not fall within the FSS exemption and could not be used for sowing.


  • Q8.

    Can I farm-save seed of a hybrid variety?


    The farm-saved exemption under EU Plant Variety Rights law specifically excludes hybrid varieties.


    Furthermore it makes no agronomic or economic sense to farm-save hybrid varieties because the resulting crop will segregate to produce variable offspring, reduced yields and loss of agronomic characters.


    Any crops grown from FSS of hybrid oilseed rape varieties are likely to be unmarketable as the contract specified by the European oilseed crushers’ organisation, FOSFA – on which virtually all UK oilseed rape is traded – prohibits the use of FSS from hybrid varieties. The same contract also permits only once-grown FSS from conventional varieties.


  • Q9.

    My neighbour and I have grown different wheat varieties. We have each had some treated by our FSS processors for use as farm-saved seed. Surely we can swap some of this, as provided we make the FSS payment the breeders do not miss out?


    It is against the law to transfer FSS from one holding to another whether the FSS payment has been made or not. The legislation is there to establish a balance between the rights of the breeder and the grower, making sure that the breeder is rewarded appropriately and can continue to invest in the development of new varieties. The payment on FSS is approximately half of the royalty paid for a commercial supply of certified seed. Illegal transfer of farm-saved seed therefore erodes breeders’ income and reduces the funding available for reinvestment in breeding. Certified seed also brings a guarantee that the seed is of known provenance and quality and has been tested for germination and purity.


  • Q10.

    I have farm-saved seed to declare but can’t find the name of the variety that I have used on the list of eligible varieties; what should I do?



  • Q11.

    Why do you send out two declaration forms per year?


    The farm-saved seed payment requirement is triggered when use is made of an eligible variety, ie when it is used for sowing. BSPB collects farm-saved seed payments twice a year to capture payments from the two sowing seasons, autumn and spring.


  • Q12.

    Why do I keep getting reminder letters from BSPB with red ink on them?


    The regulations allow 28 days for the return of information from our first request.  When your declaration is three months overdue we will politely remind you of this with a letter, using red ink to draw your attention to the request for outstanding information.


  • Q13.

    Where can I find the payment rates for eligible varieties?


  • Q14.

    I have started contract farming a neighbour’s land. I have a profit share in the final crop – why can I not use my farm-saved seed on this land?


    It is against the law to transfer farm-saved seed from one holding to another for sowing. Any transaction – whether free, bartered or charged – constitutes a transfer of ownership and is against the law.


  • Q15.

    I want to try growing a cover crop. Can I get some pea seed from the farmer next door? It is not going to produce a harvested crop.


    No. Regardless of whether a crop is taken to harvest the seeds regulations and farm-saved seed rules apply. You must use either certified seed purchased from a licensed seed merchant or farm-saved seed produced on your own holding. In the case of farm-saved seed, if you are using an eligible variety the FSS payment will be due on sowing regardless of whether the crop is taken to harvest.


  • Q16.

    I've been declaring my seed but I know that another farmer isn't.


    If you are aware that someone is not playing fair, you can tell BSPB in complete confidence and this will help us to establish a level playing field for all. Please email fss@bspb.co.uk or call us on 01353 653209

  • Q17.

    I process my own seed. Should I have an account set up with BSPB?


    All farm saved seed should  be declared to BSPB regardless of whether you have used the services of a processor, self-processed or used seed straight from the barn. If you don't have an account, please call on 01353 653209 or email us on fss@bspb.co.uk.

  • Q18.

    My modern variety yields no better than a variety I grew 20 years ago. Why should I pay for farm saved seed use of this variety?


    Data from Recommended List trials shows that plant breeders continue to make 1.5% yield gains annually. Plant breeders deliver improved disease resistance and quality characters as well as higher yield, all of which help increase the profitability of farming. Farm-saved seed payments are vital to continue this work.

  • Q19.

    I only ever sow certified seed. Why do I need to make declarations?


    Using certified seed of a protected variety means that you have the opportunity to use FSS of that variety. We contact farmers who have the potential to be farm-saved seed users and treat all equally. We offer several ways to declare; talk to us about the speediest and easiest for you.

  • Q20.

    Do I have to pay for a protected variety if I am using it as a cover crop mixture?


    Farm Saved Seed rules apply regardless of whether a crop is taken to harvest. If your cover crop comprises or includes FSS of eligible varieties, you must declare this to BSPB and make the appropriate payment. Please call us on 01353 653209 if you need advice on making your declaration.

  • Q21.

    I've paid my processor, don't they give you the information?


    Processors who collect farm-saved seed payments for BSPB do not pass on details of work done for individual farmers unless the farmer has opted to pay BSPB directly or if the processor does not collect farm saved seed payments for BSPB. By law, farmers must declare their use of FSS and pay for eligible varieties, whether this has been processed or used straight from the barn.

  • Q22.

    Where does my money go?


    Farm-Saved Seed payments go to the breeder of the variety that you have declared minus a small percentage that BSPB retains to cover our costs of collection. Prompt declaration and payment helps to keep the cost of administration down so that more money can be reinvested in plant breeding.

  • Q23.

    Royalty rates have gone up. How is this fair?


    FSS payment rates for each combinable crop species are calculated annually using a formula agreed between BSPB and the farming unions. The rates are based on the weighted average of the royalty rates for the relevant crop. The rates are therefore influenced by changes to the certified royalty rates, which are set individually and independently by the plant breeders, and by the product mix in the market place.

  • Q24.

    We have a shared farm agreement and I don't manage the arable side. Do I have to talk to you?


    We will need to know the name and contact details for the person responsible for making the declaration and payment for the FSS for your farming business, even if this is not the farmer.

  • Q25.

    I've seen there is a small farmer exemption. Do I qualify?


    A farmer is classed as a small farmer if they grow cereals on an area of land large enough to produce 92 tonnes or less. Small farmers are exempt from payment but not from declaration. If you think you are eligible please contact BSPB.

  • Q26.

    I am using FSS for a whole crop. Does this have to be declared and if so, how?


    The farm saved seed payment is due on sowing and the obligation to declare and pay applies regardless of whether the crop is harvested, sold as grain or used for whole crop.

  • Q27.

    My crop has been totally ruined by slugs in the wet weather. Do I still need to declare the farm-saved seed that was used?


    Yes, a declaration and payment must be made to BSPB for any farm-saved seed used. Payment for the use of farm-saved seed applies at the point of sowing (unless already paid via a processor), regardless of the outcome of the crop.



Members of the BSPB farm-saved seed team at Ely are on hand to help with any queries on seed use and the FSS payment process.



© BSPB 2015 | The British Society of Plant Breeders Ltd. Registered in England No.876811. Registered Office BSPB House, 114 Lancaster Way Business Park, ELY CB6 3NX