There are those who would rather not put extra funding towards varietal research, but to Steve Tomtene, a Saskatchewan-based farmer, the return on research and development is entirely worth the investment.
“Our farm started back in the late sixties,” Tomtene explains in an interview with Shaun Haney, “and I think when we look back over the course of time, probably one of the biggest things that have helped us be successful is access to new genetics and new varieties.”
You won’t find too many farmers that don’t like yield increases, improved disease tolerances or milling qualities. These improvements do not happen without a financial return for the seed company and breeder. Steve Tomtene indicates that he is fine with that. Tomtene believes that if there are benefits and value created farmers have no trouble investing in research and technology.
An effective plant breeders’ rights system is intended to create an environment that encourages and supports the development of new plant varieties. In fact, amending the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act could encourage an increased investment in plant breeding, potentially giving Canadian farmers more access to new and innovative plant varieties thus allowing them to be more competitive in the global marketplace.
– From the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s FAQs: The Impact of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) Conventions on Plant Breeders’ Rights in Canada
The video below is the entire interview recorded with Tomtene. In it, Tomtene answers questions about the role of research and development for farmers, whether or not he’s worried about losing control over crop choices, how wheat varietal development can gain from canola’s success and also why there is still such resistance to cereal breeding research in Canada.