HARRISBURG, Pa. — With grain harvest well under way, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding reminded seed conditioners not to accept seed for processing that does not conform with the Pennsylvania Seed Act, the federal Plant Variety Protection Act or federal patent laws.
The Pennsylvania Seed Act recognizes that some protected varieties have a PVPA certificate, which requires the seed to be sold only as a class of certified seed. It is illegal to sell non-certified seed using those seed varieties.
“Seed companies have invested decades of work into producing plant varieties that grow faster, yield higher and perform better for Pennsylvania farms,” said Redding. “These seed varieties are legally protected, and we, as producers, are obligated to follow the law. This allows companies to continue to breed crops that ultimately benefit farmers and consumers alike.”
Seed conditioners are professionals who clean and blend seed to change the purity or germination of those seeds. They can sell non-certified seeds as well as certified seeds, which are tested by a recognized seed certifying agency, like the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, to ensure labeling accuracy and compliance with seed laws and national quality standards.
Certified seed is sold for a premium. Most wheat varieties and many varieties of other small grains are protected by the PVPA or a federal patent.
Once plant variety protection is granted under the PVPA, the certificate owners have exclusive legal rights to market and to exclude others from selling their varieties. This legal protection for breeders and inventors promotes the development of new varieties that can increase yield and crop productivity, increases farmers’ income and expands trade and economic growth.
Conditioners who condition or store protected seed without the permission of the legal holders of the intellectual property, whether knowingly or unknowingly, may be held liable for infringement. Conditioning farmer-saved seed should be limited to the amount of seed needed to plant a farmer’s own acreage. A written document should be obtained from the grower stating that the seed will not be sold to others for planting purposes and will be only used on his or her own holdings.
Selling seed in Pennsylvania is regulated by the Pennsylvania Seed Act. A seed distributor — the person or company whose name appears on the label — is required by law to obtain a $25 seed license from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, which is renewed annually. Distributors must abide by the rules and regulations established by the law to ensure the sale of quality seed that can be depended on to perform as labeled.
— Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture