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Seed relabeling report highlights transparency gap

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In the agriculture industry, most farmers are aware of seed companies relabeling the same variety under multiple brand names. However, according to Farmers Business Network’s Seed Relabeling Report, farmers do not realize how often it is actually happening. 

Today, FBN released its seed relabeling report, which found that most seed farmers purchase is relabeled. Without labeling transparency, farmers are at risk of overpaying for seed — one of the largest expenses for their operation — and potentially also risking a lack of genetic diversity in their seed mix.

The Growers from FBN’s network contributed more than 35,000 seed tags, representing over 8,000 unique seed products, primarily corn and soybean seeds. FBN analyzed these seed tags alongside more than 60,000 unique seed invoice records, sold by 270 different seed companies. This data paints a picture of how pervasive the practice of seed relabeling is, even though many farmers are not aware of it.

“The practice of seed relabeling means that farmers may pay vastly different prices for the same seed and is a good example of the lack of transparency in agriculture that Farmers Business Network is working to change,” said Amol Deshpande, CEO and Co-Founder, FBN. “This report shows the power of the FBN network of farmers who, by sharing information, empower each other and create the potential to transform agriculture.”

Image courtesy of FBN

A survey conducted by FBN in September found 31 percent of FBN farmer members think they plant seed that has been relabeled, while, according to member contributed data and analysis in the FBN Seed Relabeling Report, 73 percent of FBN members actually did plant seed that had been relabeled — indicating this problem is much greater than most farmers realize. 

The report also found that:

  • Some companies relabeled up to 77 percent of their corn products, and up to 80 percent of their soybeans.
  • 57 percent of soybean seed browns were relabeled.
  • 49 percent of corn seed products were relabeled.
  • 73 percent of FBN farmers planted relabeled seed products.
  • 6 pernce FBN members who bought the same seed from multiple companies

According to FBN, seed companies relabel their products for various reasons. They may want to increase their product offerings, but lack the ability or financial capacity to develop breeding programs. Some seed companies use relabeling as a branding and pricing strategy. However, seed relabeling itself is neither good nor bad, but farmers deserve a more transparent purchasing system. 

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