By Dr. Ruihong Guo
Everyone loves that burst of flavor you get when you eat a fresh fruit or vegetable. But we often don’t think about all the research, propagating, and growing by plant breeders that happens prior to giving us that great food experience. Plant breeders work hard to develop new varieties, which are crucial to continued agricultural production, at levels that provide us with food security. New varieties help address the challenges we face - from plant pest and disease outbreaks to an increasing world population.
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has a long tradition of increasing the marketing options for American farmers, growers, and plant breeders. Our Plant Variety Protection Office (PVPO) grants certificates for intellectual property protection to developers of new plant varieties. These certificates enable breeders to market their variety exclusively for 20 years, providing them a strong incentive to invest the time and money to develop new improved varieties. These PVPO issued certificates are recognized worldwide, increasing trade opportunities for agricultural business across the country.
AMS identified a clear opportunity to improve the customer experience by adopting an innovative technology to automate plant variety protection applications. This week PVPO launched a new electronic Plant Variety Protection (ePVP) System.
The ePVP System features the ability to file applications with supporting data, analyses and high resolution photographs. The system also provides an efficient and secure way to pay fees electronically and makes it easier for customers to check the status of an application or amend an existing application.
Seminis Vegetable Seeds and Pioneer Hi-Bred International are just two of many customers that helped us pilot the first phase of the project. With their evaluation and feedback, the web accessible system is now fully operational! Our improved services will benefit a variety of customers from land grant universities with plant breeding programs to specialized breeders such as 3 Star Lettuce and Highland Specialty Grains, and those companies with a long history of plant breeding like Ball Horticultural and Pure-Seed Testing.
The efficiency and cost savings from the new ePVP System will benefit both the customer and USDA. The new online system is just another example of AMS staff striving to provide the best service to American agriculture.