Relabeling is something that’s irritated farmers for a very long time and turns out for a very good reason.
Labeling laws require seed companies to provide the variety identity on the seed bag tag itself. But it is different from the marketed brand name. However, it sometimes can be difficult for farmers to match which seeds are the same as others. This is a problem Charles Baron with Farmers Business Network calls Seed Relabeling.
Does the phrase “Same seed different bag” sound familiar? It’s something that’s frustrated farmers for years. Companies selling seed under different brand names has been a common practice in the seed industry.
“We started a project trying to decode that. Farmers have now sent us pictures of well over 1,000 tags which have the variety names as well as the trade names. We then cross match all of those variety names and tell each of those members if they are paying in fact planting a duplicate or the same seed twice,” Baron says.
“We found an instance where one brand was relabeling with another in the same state, in the state of Indiana for example, but charging $60 a bag less. That was quite shocking because those farmers were effectively overpaying by almost $30 an acre once you work the math out which is a lot of money to be overpaying for the same genetics from a different branding,” Baron says.
“Fortunately, that number was also my best corn that year,” says Combs.
Varietal popularity can also impact pricing, says LaVigne. “Did they (farmers) come in late (to buy) a popular variety of which there was not a lot of supply left? Those kinds of things can all come into play,” he says.
FBN officials and some FBN members say the report also pierces the opaque world of corn and soybean seed pricing.
“Genetics account for 100% of potential yield,” he says. “Seed production can impact it, for sure, so farmers have to pay attention to that, as well. But at the end of the day, it is good for growers to understand there are similar (genetic) products out there from different companies.”
Still, a handful of companies – Corteva Agriscience, AgReliant Genetics, Stine Seeds, Syngenta, Bayer Crop Science, and BASF – commercialize most genetics and traits, says Jeff Hartz, a seed industry consultant.