The pilot program launched by the seed industry left wheat and barley commissions across the Prairies with questions
The Canadian Plant Technology Agency (CPTA) and the Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA) announced a Seed Variety Use Agreement (SVUA) pilot program and working group Feb. 25.
Plant breeders and their seed distributors will select varieties to which the SVUA will apply. When producers purchase one of these varieties and then keep some of that seed after harvest to use the next planting season, they will be invoiced a Seed Variety Use Fee (SVUF). This fee will be invoiced every time that farm-saved SVUA seed is grown. This arrangement is also known as a trailing royalty.
This pilot program will involve certain seed varieties in the 2020 planting season.
“The pilot program is good news for our industry, and we are supportive of the process. We look forward to testing and evaluating the system,” said Chris Churko, CEO of FP Genetics and chair of CPTA, in the release.
CSTA has also formed a working group with producer and industry representatives.
“It has been a twelve-year journey to get to this point on value creation, and I’m thrilled that we are taking the next steps to make the Seed Variety Use Agreement a reality,” Todd Hyra, western business manager at SeCan said in the release. “I’m excited about the opportunity the pilot program offers to provide evidence of value, transparency and choice for all.”
The program and working group come after consultations were done with producers and wheat and barley commissions. According to the commissions, however, the consultations weren’t finished.
In 2017, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency started in-person consultations around two models of value creation: trailing royalty and end point royalty, said Pam Derocquigny, general manager with the Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association (MWBGA).
“We were engaged in that process in terms of trying to understand what implications this could have for wheat and barley farmers in the province of Manitoba,” said Derocquigny. “There was significant feedback, and not all positive, in terms of the two proposed models that were being discussed.”
The end point royalty system would mean producers would pay a levy on the seed when they bought it. Then, growers would pay a royalty when they sold their grain. These royalties and levies would help fund the development of new seed varieties.
The Prairie wheat and barley commissions also requested an economic analysis be conducted so stakeholders could better understand the multiple financial aspects of the two proposed models. The organizations would also like more information on the current level of investment by various sectors and how much additional funding is needed.
The consultation process was put on hold in the fall of 2019due to the federal election and the commissions involved were under the impression that discussions would resume Derocquigny told Farms.com.
“Now this (pilot program) has been announced and we're just concerned it's adding confusion as to what's happening. What's happening with the current process and are we still evaluating the two models?”
The Prairie wheat and barley commissions distributed a release following the announcement stating their concerns. The commissions involved included the MWBGA, the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission (Sask Wheat), the Saskatchewan Barley Development Commission, the Alberta Wheat Commission and Alberta Barley.
“Sask Wheat wants to ensure producers’ rights, such as the right to use farm-saved seed, are being protected in any pilot contracts and that producers clearly understand the impact of the contracts on their farms,” Brett Halstead, chair of Sask Wheat, said in the release.
“It is critical that the government complete their consultations with grain producers and put a transparent and accountable process in place to demonstrate that the extra money producers are paying is advancing varietal development,” Dave Bishop, chair of Alberta Barley, said in the release.
The commissions believe everyone wants the same things in the end, Derocquigny said.
“We want to collaborate within the industry and we want Canada to be competitive. We want producers to have great varieties that they grow on their farms and then those varieties in turn meet the end use of our customers,” she said. A lack of clarity and confusion surrounded the roll out of the pilot program and working group, she added.
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