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 Full text 
Thursday, 19 January 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition

Farm input supply chain - Imbalances in the food supply chain (debate)

  John Stuart Agnew, on behalf of the EFD Group. – Madam President, during my farming lifetime, I have seen wheat yields triple, and during my farming lifetime, I have seen sugar beet yields triple. In addition to that, those sugar beet have gone from being randomly monogerm to consistently monogerm, and all that is down to the efforts of plant breeders. They have to be rewarded for the work that they do. They are in great competition with other plant breeders and the farmer, I can assure you, is the most brutal customer of the lot. If he does not like a variety, he will drop it like a stone. The price of failure for a plant breeder is very high indeed: it is 10 years’ work straight down the drain.

Somebody was talking about maintaining seed banks. I can assure you that the seed breeders themselves do that. Actually, seed is one of the farm inputs that farmers have a huge degree of control over, and in the UK, a farmer has three choices. He can either maintain an old variety on which no royalty is payable, or he can multiply up a new variety. He will then have to declare that he has done so and pay a modest acreage royalty. He can expect to be inspected, or he can simply buy a bag of seed where the royalty is part of the price. All of these things he can do. This works well in the UK. I do not see the necessity to call on the Commission to interfere in this in any way at all.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

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