Farmers react to proposed changes to seed royalty structure

Many farmers and seed industry members have come to realize that business-as-usual will not be a business at all unless some changes are made to the way plant breeding is funded in this country. Everyone recognizes that most of the money that goes into plant breeding goes into just a few crops through private investment, and that public breeders trying to support crops, such as wheat, oats, barley, and flax are beginning to be left behind.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) recently launched a consultation process with grain and seed industry stakeholders and producer associations to see who model may work to ensure investment and sustainability for the seed industry. As part of the process, AAFC is presenting two proposals: an end point royalty or a  trailing royalty. (RealAgriculture outlined these proposal previously here.)

This week at Saskatoon,RealAgriculture’s Dale Leftwich attended the meeting dubbed “Transforming Canada’s cereals sector through value creation,” and captured the opinions of some of the farmers in the room. (story continues after video)

Rob Stone, of Davidson, says, “It seems really complicated. there’s lots of different opinions on how we’re going to what I think everybody’s goal is a more profitable cereal industry. It is basically talking about cereals, but all crops besides the ones that are privately invested in.”

Stewart Wells, from Swift Current, has some strong opinions on the subject, and he is not impressed. “I’m not happy with the process and I’m also not happy with the general direction that the federal government seems to be wanting to head in this whole enterprise. They’ve created this bargain with big seed companies and the government is deliberately trying to create a vacuum with the hope these big seed companies will step in and fill this research vacuum in variety development.”

Brent Johnson, of Strasbourg, thinks more should have been done to bring farmers into the consultation earlier. “We’ve known about this process for a little while. It’s sort of been a closed process from our prospective at SaskBarley and my prospective as a producer. We are definitely not really happy with the amount of consultation the producers have been given.”

Travis Uteck, of Swift current, has this to say about the options presented: “I think there’s viable options there. As a farmer the biggest concern is that the royalty dollars end up going back to the breeders so we capture value for them.”

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