Early discussions of animal breeding and selection always grouped producers into three types, which were the breeder, multiplier and commercial producer.
Generally portrayed as a pyramid, the base represented the large group of commercial producers who are in the business of producing products for the consumer. These producers would obtain breeding stock from the second level within the pyramid.
The second level represented those producers who specialized in expanding the population of breeding males and females. Their principle source of income was selling sires and replacement females to the commercial producer. As a general rule of thumb, commercial producers would neuter all male offspring and, in some cases, even sell all the female offspring.
As one would climb the pyramid, the top represented the elite breeders, those breeders who offered breeding stock to seedstock producers for propagation. Our agricultural friends use the same process because crop producers may be involved in or have access to breeder, foundation, registered or certified seed.
At the top of the pyramid is crop breeder seed, which is the product of an intense selection regime that commonly is referred to as the first generation.
The seed is kept under close supervision to allow for appropriate regeneration to assure a source of the seed. As the seed is further prepared for distribution, foundation seed is produced or maintained to assure adequate preservation of the genetic traits and associated purity of the seed.
As a genetic line of seed expands to commercial production, just like cattle, there needs to be a level of production that focusses on the distribution of the traits unique to the seed and provides assurances that those traits are maintained and available in the purchased seed.
Thus, the production of registered seed, which is seed that is the progeny of foundation seed and bears a high probability that the goals of the original breeder are met. Still not at the volume needed for commercial production, certain producers become certified seed producers to produce certified seed.
These producers go to great efforts to assure certifying agents and their customers that they have met a satisfactory expectation and their seed contains the genetic traits the original breeder desired to offer to the industry. There is the assurance that the seed is pure and not significantly modified from the original stock.
This process has been going on for more than a century in livestock and plants with the expectation of producing copious amounts of food to feed people.