Seed relabeling creates problems for farmers in two ways. Farmers overpay for seeds when they purchase varieties that other brands sell for a lower price, and farmers fail to genetically diversify when they inadvertently purchase the same variety from multiple brands.
We examined both of these issues—overpaying for seed and lack of genetic diversity—to quantify how often, and to what extent, they impact farmers.
1. Overpaying for seed
Since different brands often sell the same variety for very different prices, some farmers significantly overpay, perhaps not realizing that other brands sell the same variety at a lower price. We combined our seed relabeling dataset with our dataset of farmer-contributed seed invoices, which contains more than 23,000 seed price records, to estimate how much money seed relabeling costs American farmers.
For every relabeled variety with corresponding price data, we calculated the average price per bag (after discounts, but before treatments) for all the brands selling that variety.
2. Lack of genetic diversity
When the same variety is sold under multiple brand names, it is easy for farmers to unknowingly purchase the same variety from multiple brands, though they may think that they are buying a unique variety from each brand. This can lead to a failure to establish the genetic diversity that many farmers strive for when selecting their seed lineup.
Several FBN network members were unaware that they had purchased the same variety from several brands, and expressed concern when learning that their attempt to achieve genetic diversity on their farm was, in reality, just purchasing the same genetics under different names.
Twenty-one percent of acres in the FBN network were planted with relabeled varieties. This concentration of genetics across such large acreages also creates unnecessary disease, pest and weed resistance.
Six percent of farmers who contributed seed tag data had purchased the same variety from multiple brands. Most purchased the same variety from two brands, but a handful purchased the same variety from three brands.
We’ve updated the industry’s first and only report on seed relabeling, now with more seed tags, more brands and new data.
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