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Wheat And Barley Commissions Voice Concerns About Seed Variety Use Agreement Pilot Program

Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association (MWBGA), Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission (Sask Wheat), Saskatchewan Barley Development Commission (SaskBarley), Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC), and Alberta Barley have significant concerns about the Seed Variety Use Agreement (SVUA) pilot project and its future impact on western Canadian wheat and barley producers.
 
The SVUA pilot project was announced on February 25, 2020 by the seed industry at the Prairie Grain Development Committee (PGDC) meetings in Winnipeg. The pilot imposes the trailing royalty collection mechanism on farm-saved seed of selected crop varieties through a contract agreement.
 
“MWBGA has questions about the implications of the proposed SVUA pilot and its impact on the credibility of the ongoing consultation process being managed by AAFC and the CFIA,” said Fred Greig, MWBGA Chair. “We also continue to wait for the economic analysis to be released by AAFC as the next step in the consultation process.”
 
The five wheat and barley commissions are not part of or supportive of the pilot SVUA program.
 
The group's note that the pilot is separate from the federal government’s consultation process on a new seed royalty structure and signals the seed industry’s commitment to the SVUA model despite the on-going consultation. They note that the consultation process, which also includes the End Point Royalty (EPR) model in addition to the trailing royalty model, was initiated by the federal government to inform the value chain and attempt to work toward the best model for all involved including farmers. The commissions add that the SVUAs are being implemented via contract law and not a regulatory change, resulting in significant concerns from the commissions about the future of the consultation process.
 
“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,” said Brett Halstead, Sask Wheat Chair. “We are concerned that the proposed trailing royalties could inhibit the adoption of midge tolerant varieties, should they be included as part of the pilot, which would have negative implications for the Midge Tolerant Wheat program.”
 
The five commissions emphasize that it is necessary for AAFC to provide assurance that all royalties collected through the SVUA on AAFC publicly bred varieties will be returned to AAFC’s wheat variety breeding program in an open and transparent way to supplement the funding currently provided by producers and the federal government.
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