CSTA, CPTA announce Seed Variety Use Agreement pilot program

After years of discussions about how to fund the development of new crop varieties in Canada, two seed industry groups have announced they’re moving ahead with a pilot program for the 2020 growing season.

The Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA), along with the Canadian Plant Technology Agency (CPTA), announced a Seed Variety Use Agreement (SVUA) pilot program on Tuesday.

An SVUA allows plant breeders to set a royalty fee, referred to as a Seed Variety Use Fee (SVUF), on farm-saved seed.

The groups say the CPTA will build and test a platform for these seed variety agreements, while the CSTA will establish a working group to consult with other stakeholders in the value chain.

The working group will include “growers, and retailers to oversee the pilot, assess its performance, and look at whether or not it’s succeeding and delivering the extra investments and the extra results and value that we’re all committed to delivering,” explains Tyler McCann, interim executive director for CSTA, in the interview below.

As part of the pilot program, the agreements will apply to a limited number of new varieties this year — so far, two wheat and one soybean variety have been confirmed.

Whether or not a grower wants to use these new varieties is up to them. McCann adds if they don’t, there will still be access to the vast majority of varieties already available without SVUAs.

“The seed industry is always committed to ensuring that no SVUA is attached to an existing variety that’s out in the marketplace,” he says. “So farmers that already have grain in the bin (for seed) don’t need to worry about this, but if they are looking at new varieties, if they’re interested in seeing how these new varieties are going to perform on their operation, they’ll be able to have that discussion with their seed distributor and look at how whether or not it makes business sense for their farm.”

The royalty amount will be determined by seed distributors, says McCann.

As far as the timeline goes, he says more information will be rolling out in the coming weeks for the full breakdown of the pilot program platform.

The announcement was made in conjunction with the Prairie Grain Development Committee’s annual variety recommendation meetings in Winnipeg.

Listen to the full interview with Tyler McCann of CSTA and RealAgriculture’s Jessika Guse in the interview below:

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