Over eight hundred people crowded into TCU Place at the end of CropSphere to have an informal consultation on impending changes to Canada’s seed royalty structure.
Usually, the end of a conference is marked by a thinning crowd as the last speaker takes the stage, but not this time, as the last item on the CropSphere agenda pulled in approximately 200 more people to the room in addition to the over 6o0 originally registered.
The formal consultation on seed royalties that was held on December 4 at Saskatoon had not gone the way the organizers had intended. It seemed that as the day wore on fewer and fewer people were in favour of either an end point royalty or a trailing royalty — the two proposals put forward by the federal government.
SaskWheat was one of the grower groups that helped organize this meeting. Laura Reiter, chair of SaskWheat says,”The meeting in December in Saskatoon was about 150 producers,” she continues “and it was pretty clear we wanted more information and … there were lots of people that couldn’t make it or didn’t even know about it, didn’t know what the topic was about even.”
Reiter says that it is hard to compare the two meetings, but there seems to be some progress on the government’s part. “There were things that were suggested or discussed at some of the other meetings that they have considered and worked into the presentation, so that kind of says they are taking the feedback and they’re considering it.”
Interest in the meeting from farmers at Crop Week events at Saskatoon, was high with more than one person suggesting there could be fireworks. What happened instead is that there was a very good presentation of what was really being considered and some direct answers to the questions and concerns of farmers. That, and the timeline seems to have been slowed somewhat — which is good, allowing time for more discussion.
At the December meeting in Saskatoon, the tone of the questions became more pointed as the day went on. At the meeting this week, some people were saying, “I changed my mind. This might not be a terrible idea.”
There is a long way to go to gain the support of farmers for either of the two proposed royalty structures, but the consultation that got off to a pretty shaky start seems to have straightened itself out a bit.
There will be more consultations held at Ag Days at Brandon and FarmTech at Edmonton.
Hear the entire interview with Laura Reiter, Chair of SaskWheat, below.