The Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) has welcomed the renewal of the EU’s temporary experiment on the inspection of pre-basic and basic crops by licenced inspectors, and the recognition of its importance in the UK by Defra. The move could lead to permanent change.

This temporary experiment, implemented through Commission Implementing Decision EU 2020/1106, became domestic law in England, Wales and Scotland on 1 January 2021. It lasts until 31 July 2027. The experiment allows licensed crop inspectors, as an alternative to officials, to inspect and approve crops entered to produce pre-basic and basic seed of all species except potatoes. Lower crop entry fees will apply.

The AIC lobbied Defra throughout 2020 on the importance of the previous experiment to the industry, stressing the need to carry over any renewed experiment into UK legislation after Brexit. After the experiment ended in 2019, the seed industry had to bear the significantly higher cost of official inspections in 2020.

“I am really pleased that following successful lobbying by AIC, the Animal & Plant Health Agency has announced this renewed temporary experiment,” comments AIC sector chair of seed Chris Guest. “The UK seed sector is a global leader in the delivery of high quality seed to the marketplace. This experiment was well received last time and we look forward to following the outcomes of this latest experiment which will ease the financial and administrative burden on the industry.”

Catherine Barrett, head of arable marketing and seed at the AIC, adds: “This is an excellent result, with Defra recognising the professionalism of the UK seed industry and working to support it. This will be very useful for domestic seed production and use. SASA has confirmed that seed produced in England and Wales under the experiment can be marketed in Scotland.”