Agri-Pulse | USDA Warns Seed Companies to Adhere to Labeling Requirements

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An Agriculture Department letter warning the largest makers of corn, soybean and cotton seeds to double-check their compliance with labeling requirements is being welcomed by some groups as a step toward the agency’s goal for a fairer seed marketplace, while others would rather see the agency tackling other seed competition issues.

The Nov. 8 letter — sent by Agricultural Marketing Service Director Bruce Summers to the top six companies by market share in the corn, soy and cotton seed markets — says brand names “must be clearly identified as not being” a seed’s kind or variety name, and brands should not falsely claim to “add diversification” for growers. Labels also should not imply that a seed mixture is only a single or known variety. It also suggests that companies and their boards of directors establish “best practices” to ensure the requirements are met. 

The Economic Research Service estimates that Bayer, Corteva, AgReliant, and Syngenta collectively represented 83.4% of corn seed sales between 2018 and 2020, while Corteva, Bayer, Syngenta and AgReliant constituted 78.1% of soybean seed sales. BASF, Corteva, Americot and Bayer represented 93.6% of cottonseed sales in those years, ERS researchers said.

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