Publication - Consultation paper

Consultation on fees for seed testing, seed certification and associated seed functions

Published: 10 Mar 2017
Agriculture and Rural Economy Directorate
Part of:
Farming and rural

Consultation on Scottish Government's proposal to increase certain fees for seed testing, seed certification and associated seed functions.

37 page PDF

1.4 MB

37 page PDF

1.4 MB

Consultation on fees for seed testing, seed certification and associated seed functions
Part I - About This Consultation

37 page PDF

1.4 MB

Part I - About This Consultation


Seeds regulations in Scotland, which implement European law obligations, provide that certain kinds of seeds can be marketed. Only after the examination (official or under official supervision by licensed individuals), and the seed being certified as meeting specific minimum seed quality standards, can a seed lot be marketed. This arrangement ensures that farmers and growers receive seed of a minimum known quality.

In their role as an official service provider/supervisor for seeds marketing, Scottish Government has an obligation to ensure full-cost recovery for all the services it provides, which includes field inspection of crops, testing of seed and the training and examination of people who undertake these activities. Within the Scottish Government, Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture ( SASA) and the Rural Payments Inspection Directorate ( RPID) are responsible for carrying out the technical and administrative work associated with seed certification.

Scottish Government's standard approach to setting charges for public services is full cost recovery, in doing so it avoids unnecessary public expenditure. Charging also provides an incentive to use goods and services economically, efficiently and effectively.

Fees for seed testing, seed certification and associated functions ( supervision of licensed, Professional Seed Operators, licensed crop inspectors, licensed seed samplers, licensed seed testing stations ( LSTS)) and courses and exams are all required to be reviewed annually to ensure that the costs of the services provided by Scottish Government are met by the businesses benefiting directly from them and that it is cost neutral to government.

Purpose of consultation

This consultation is on Scottish Government's proposal to increase certain fees for seed testing, seed certification and associated seed functions.

During the last review, Scottish Government were able to apply a number of cost-efficiency measures to keep increases down and in some cases allow no increase to be applied to seed testing, seed certification and associated functions in July 2016. We are continuing to review the services we provide in an attempt to keep costs down and with a large scale review now underway; we plan to hold a series of workshops later in the year to share our findings.

The purpose of this consultation is to explain reasoning behind the proposed changes to fees which will come into force on the 1 July 2017.

Scope of consultation.

Certification - Official or Licensed

EU legislation only allows seed that is listed either on a Member State's National List or EU Common Catalogue and has met the seed and crop standards to be freely marketed, having first been certified.

Although Scottish Government has overall responsibility for certification, there are various functions within the process that can be done either by Government Officials or Licensed individuals or companies. Provided that an individual can demonstrate that they have the knowledge and expertise, Scottish Ministers will license them to undertake crop inspections, seed sampling and/or seed testing. Those wishing to market, process, and package seed are required to have the appropriately qualified personnel, equipment, and premises in which to carry out this work.

In order to allow some of the certification work to be done by Licensed individuals / companies, Scottish Government is required to supervise and check at least 5% of all the work done under licence.

SASA, who are part of Scottish Government, take responsibility as the Certifying Authority ( CA) for Scotland, working with the Official Seed Testing Station ( OSTS) for Scotland and RPID, co-ordinating all the official areas of certification.

Costs and Fees

Through a number of cost efficiency measures, SASA have been able to keep some costs down in 2016/17. However, this year's review has shown a deficit of £13 k and in order to bridge this and ensure full cost recovery in 2017/18, Scottish Government propose a 1.8% increases for fees. The schedules attached in Annexes A - C provide more details of the services and the costs.

Options under consideration

Option 1, the option of no change will not achieve full cost recovery and any deficits will continue to rise.

This is not an option. Scottish tax payers should not be subsidising services that should be covered by the industry using it.

Option 2, Increase fees by 1.8% to achieve full cost recovery in financial year 2017/18.

This option would deliver the Scottish Government's aims to recover the full cost of the services provided. Fees would increase so that those who benefit from the services ( i.e. the seed industry) would be required to meet the true costs of providing a Scottish seed certification scheme.

A Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment ( BRIA)

A BRIA has been attached providing a more extensive view of the options being proposed.

Geographical extent of consultation

This consultation applies in Scotland only. England and Wales last increased their seed certification fee on 1 January 2014. After a recent procurement exercise, a Contractor has just been secured to provide certain seed certification and seed testing duties in England and Wales. Once finalised, APHA will undertake a similar review of their fees


Anyone may respond to this consultation. The Scottish Government would like to

hear from anyone with an interest, including Professional Seed Operators (seed merchants, seed processors, and seed packers), licensed crop inspectors, licensed seed samplers, Licensed Seed Testing Stations, farmers and interested members of the public.

Body responsible for this consultation

The Scottish Government's Plant Health, Horticulture, Seeds and Potatoes Branch are responsible for seed marketing policy and this consultation. Within the Scottish Government, Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture ( SASA) is responsible for certification and seed testing and have been involved in the preparation of this consultation.


  • This consultation started 3 March 2017
  • This consultation closes on 26 May 2017
  • A consultation period of 12 weeks applies

How to make an enquiry

If you have any queries relating to this consultation please contact Carol Scott on 0300 244 9504.

The Scottish Government Consultation Process

Consultation is an essential and important aspect of Scottish Government working methods. Given the wide-ranging areas of work of the Scottish Government, there are many varied types of consultation. However, in general, Scottish Government consultation exercises aim to provide opportunities for all those who wish to express their opinions on a proposed area of work to do so in ways which will inform and enhance that work.

The Scottish Government encourages consultation that is thorough, effective and appropriate to the issue under consideration and the nature of the target audience. Consultation exercises take account of a wide range of factors, and no two exercises are likely to be the same.

All Scottish Government consultation papers and related publications (eg, analysis of response reports) can be accessed at: Scottish Government consultations (

The views and suggestions detailed in consultation responses are analysed and used as part of the decision making process, along with a range of other available information and evidence. Depending on the nature of the consultation exercise the responses received may:

  • indicate the need for policy development or review
  • inform the development of a particular policy
  • help decisions to be made between alternative policy proposals
  • be used to finalise legislation before it is implemented

Final decisions on the issues under consideration will also take account of a range of other factors, including other available information and research evidence.

While details of particular circumstances described in a response to a consultation exercise may usefully inform the policy process, consultation exercises cannot address individual concerns and comments, which should be directed to the relevant public body.

This consultation, and all other Scottish Government consultation exercises, can be viewed online on the consultation web pages of the Scottish Government website at

The Scottish Government has an email alert system for consultations, This system allows stakeholder individuals and organisations to register and receive a weekly email containing details of all new consultations (including web links). It complements, but in no way replaces SG distribution lists, and is designed to allow stakeholders to keep up to with all SG consultation activity, and therefore be alerted at the earliest opportunity to those of most interest. We would encourage you to register.

Responding to this consultation paper

We are inviting responses to this consultation paper by 26 May 2017.

You should send your completed Respondent Information Form (see "Handling your Response" below) to:

Carol Scott,
Plant Health, Horticulture, Seeds and Potato Policy Branch
The Scottish Government, D Spur, Saughton House,
Broomhouse Drive, EH11 3XD


Handling your response

We need to know how you wish your response to be handled and, in particular, whether you are happy for your response to be made public. Please complete and return the Respondent Information Form as this will ensure that we treat your response appropriately. If you ask for your response not to be published we will regard it as confidential, and we will treat it accordingly.

All respondents should be aware that the Scottish Government are subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and would therefore have to consider any request made to it under the Act for information relating to responses made to this consultation exercise.

Next steps in the process

Where respondents have given permission for their response to be made public and after we have checked that they contain no potentially defamatory material, responses will be made available to the public in the Scottish Government Library. (see the attached Respondent Information Form) in due course.

What happens next?

Following the closing date, all responses will be analysed and considered along with any other available evidence. This information will be used to advise Scottish Ministers of the views of stakeholders affected by the proposal.

A summary of the responses will be published within 12 weeks of closure of the consultation on Scottish Government's website at:

Comments and complaints

You may send any comments that you may have about how this consultation exercise has been conducted to -

John Speirs,
Branch Head,
Plant Health, Horticulture, Seeds and Potato Policy Branch
The Scottish Government, D Spur, Saughton House,
Broomhouse Drive, EH11 3XD


Email: Carol Scott