Seed royalties: how did we get to this point?

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An announcement regarding the future of seed royalties on Tuesday in Winnipeg could be a turning point in a more-than-a-decade long discussion about the return-on-investment for seed companies and plant breeders in Canada.

At FarmTech in Edmonton earlier this winter, both Todd Hyra, of SeCan, and Laurin Comin, of the Alberta Wheat Commission, presented on where the process was at.

“When I first started with Alberta Wheat Commission back in 2013, this was a very hot topic, CSTA was holding various consultation sessions to try and work out a value creation model,” Comin says, in the interview below. “At that time, the big talk was the end-point royalty — and pretty much only the end-point royalty — and then we had a lull … talked a bit about farmer breeding models, where farmers could own their own breeding companies, and then that kind of died off for a while.”

Comin says it wasn’t until the formation of the federal government’s Grains Roundtable where members struck a working group to come up with proposed models. Those being the trailing royalty/farm-saved seed model or the end-point royalty models that were presented and discussed at public consultations last year.

Majority of those surveyed want different options than proposed seed royalty models

Though the ball seemed to be rolling at this point, federal politicians have been reluctant to say which way they want the seed industry to go with its seed royalty structure.

As Hyra explains, it’s a “political hot potato.”

Fast forward to today, and it appears the industry is moving ahead without waiting for federal direction, as the Canadian Seed Trade Association, which Hyra is past-president of, and the Canadian Plant Technology Agency are planning to make an announcement on Tuesday afternoon in Winnipeg regarding plans for moving ahead on the issue of seed royalties.

Listen below to the full interview with Todd Hyra of SeCan, Lauren Comin of Alberta Wheat, and RealAgriculture’s Jessika Guse below

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