General Trade Summary
U.S. planting seed exports during July 1998 (the first month of the marketing year) totaled 59,556 metric tons and were valued at $37.1 million. U.S. exports are 292 percent in volume and 7 percent in value greater than revised figures for July 1997. The sizeable increase in volume occurred primarily in field crop seed exports and suggests that some grain and oilseed exports may be incorrectly coded as planting seed on Shippers Export Declarations.
The following are highlights from recent U.S. agricultural attache reports and are available on the FAS homepage:
Spain (Report number SP8035): Spain imported $142 million in planting seeds during calendar year (CY) 1997. U.S. seed imported by Spain totaled $21 million in CY 1997, up from $18 million in CY 1996. This 17-percent jump in trade is primarily due to Spains increased imports of U.S. corn seed.
Spains corn seed imports from the United States increased from $4.9 million in CY 1996 to over $8.2 million in CY1997. U.S. corn seed captured 40 percent of Spains corn seed market, up from 30 percent in CY 1996. This increase occurred during a period when Spains total corn seed imports declined by 6.5 percent to $27.4 million from $29.3 million the year before.
During CY 1997, farmers in Spain planted 452,000 hectares to corn, 7-percent less than in CY 1996. The decrease in planting was due primarily to penalties for exceeding area quotas set by the Common Agricultural Policy for CY 1996. The increase in U.S. corn seed imports may in part be due to farmers preference for long-cycle corn seed that is found in the United States.
Planting seeds must be registered in either the European Union catalogs or in the Spanish Commercial Variety Register in order to market seed in Spain. To produce a variety in Spain, it must be registered on the Spanish Commercial Variety Register. Recently, the Government of Spain approved two biotech seed varieties for use in Spain. Novartis BT-Corn Varieties 950242 COMPA CB and 950243 JORDI CB are now listed on the Spanish Commercial Seed Variety Register.
South Africa (Report number SF8024): During CY 1997, the South African seed market grew to $200 million from $153 million in CY 1996. South Africa is able to fulfill about 80 percent of its yearly seed demands with domestic production. Seed imports from the United States grew from $6 million in CY 1996 to about $11 million in CY 1997, its highest level in over 25 years. Recent restructuring of the South African seed industry may be responsible for some of the tremendous growth the seed industry is experiencing.
The South African seed industry continues to be in a state of transformation resulting from the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1997 (AMA). The AMA exposed the seed industry to the free market, creating some confusion and distrust within the industry.
The South African Seed Industry Organization (SANSOR), which represents the seed industry and comprises 55 private companies and agricultural cooperatives, has appealed to its members to supply trade information so that it may monitor seed imports and promote an organized seed industry worldwide. Some seed companies have been reluctant to share trade information with SANSOR believing that such information may be given to competitors. SANSOR administers and coordinates seed certification, legislation, seed testing, and licensing for the Government of South Africa. However, the Directorate of Plant and Quality Control is the official and final authority for issuing phytosanitary certificates.
The South African seed industry is attempting to familiarize farmers and producers with the merits of biotechnology. Field testing protocols for plant varieties have been in place since 1990 and the first number of evaluations led to limited commercial release of a few cultivars. There are also active programs to advise farmers and consumers of the policy and procedures necessary for a healthy biotechnology industry.
Austria Adopts Requirement for Seed Imports. Beginning November 1, 1998, Austria will fully implement European Commission Directive 77/93 regarding phytosanitary measures governing the importation of seed. As a result, imports of certain seed will require a phytosanitary certificate from the exporting country and be subject to testing by the Austrian Federal Office and Research Center for Agriculture (AFORCA). AFORCA suggests that importers submit seed samples to AFORCA for testing at least three weeks in advance of importation. Failing to do so may result in detaining seed shipments in bond at the importers expense until testing is complete. Once an import approval is issued for the tested variety, it will be valid for the planting season.
For more information on U.S. Planting Seed Trade you may contact Mark Rasmussen at (202) 720-9497