Overwhelming support for continuing seed levy

1 July, 2020

Growers have overwhelmingly supported the continuation of the Non-Proprietary and Uncertified Herbage Seeds Levy order for another six years.

“In fact, from 82 percent in favour at the last levy vote in 2014, support shown during the vote last November had risen to 91 percent,” Federated Farmers Herbage Seedgrowers Subsection Chairperson Hugh Wigley says.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and the rest of Cabinet have approved continuation of the levy, and it will be gazetted this week.

“Grasses and clovers are vital to our sector but contracts for growing from proprietary seed are not always available and are more expensive.  This levy safeguards supply of non-proprietary and uncertified seeds and provides different options to our farmers,” Hugh says.

The Commodity Levies (Non-proprietary and Uncertified Seeds) Order - known as the Commons - was first mandated in 1997 when the responsibility for maintaining these cultivars was transferred to industry from Government.

Levies are collected from the following Commons: Nui, Moata, Manawa, Tama, Ruanui, Huia and Pawera, as well as uncertified ryegrass, red and white clover. 

For the Commons to continue to be publicly available, live nucleus and pre-nucleus seed of each of the Commons must be maintained to make breeders and basic seed available to growers.  It costs an estimated $180,000 for Grasslanz Technology to ensure this base material is available to growers. About 15 to 20 per cent of this material comes from the commercial sale of breeders and basic seed, while the remainder comes from the levy.

The levy is collected on behalf of Federated Farmers by all seed testing stations on the first purity and germination test.  It is set at a fixed per kg cost on the projected harvest of each of the Commons and the estimated kg price received by the grower.  The maximum levy rate is 5 per cent, although it is typically around 1.5 to 2 per cent.

“Federated Farmers doesn’t make any profit from the levy, it’s only about generating enough revenue to pay Grasslanz Technology.  It’s an industry good activity we do for the sector,” Hugh says.

“To have growers affirm support for the levy is satisfying and means that these cultivars will continue to be available for growers over the next six years.”