Farmers seek payment for innovation

A coalition of farmers who represent 50 to 60 percent of grain production in Canada have joined forces and formed a monopoly called Innovative Farmers.This group is showing ingenuity by being able to round up such a large group so quickly. Even though many are in the middle of seeding, they cleared their fields and embarked on an odyssey from one town to the next in their pursuit to link liberty and freedom for farmers.The group is unhappy with the way seed companies force them to sign restrictive contracts that include limiting the brands of chemicals they can use, something the seed/chemical companies call “bundling.”The Innovative Farmers are proud to announce their newest offering to seed/chemical companies. It’s a bundled product called “seeding equipment and land management” that combines cutting edge seeding technology with a land management program exclusive to Innovative Farmers.M. Powerment speaks on behalf of the group: “We know the seed/chemical companies will see the value in this combined one-pass payment, so to speak, which also fairly compensates the farmer for the up-front investment in seeding equipment technology and the care and quality of the practices they use when seeding.“Call it an apology by way of payment. In plain words, we keep paying them for what they claim as their investment in innovation. Now they can start paying us for our investment in seeding equipment and land management.”Farmers have made significant investments in the technology needed to grow the seed that seed and chemical companies require them to use, so they are willing to purchase these bundled seed and chemical products, but the previously cheaper land management fee– zero – is now going up.“We know companies have no choice but to sell to us, but now farmers need to recover the investment they made up front. It’s just part of the industry we’re in and everyone else is doing it,” says Powerment.“We can’t plant without their seed and pesticides. They can’t sell and get it planted without our land and equipment.”Powerment also notes this seeding equipment and land management product will be charged only to seed/chemical companies that have their own bundled products. Conventional seed companies and generic chemical companies will still have access to sell to farmers.In the same spirit of full disclosure that has been demanded by the seed/chemical companies with their contracts, the Innovative Farmer group will require the seed/chemical companies to sign a technology application/land management use agreement. It will include the ability for farmers to check the records of the seed/chemical companies to ensure they are charging a fair price.Innovative Farmers will not purchase their seed/chemical products for the life of the seed/chemical company, which likely wouldn’t be very long. It will be called an Innovators Exclusion List.Seed/chemical companies are encouraged to take advantage of the offer this year, as seeding equipment continues to improve and it costs money to upgrade.Furthermore, there is increasing competition for land management services from activities such as carbon credit trading. With this competition, the price is bound to increase in future years.As public demand for good environmental practices continues to increase, the land management fees may increase exponentially.This satirical look at technology use fees and tied-selling is meant to put focus on an increasingly critical issue. Unless there is a drastic change in how seed and chemical companies are able to control the farmer, there is the potential for serious results that will further erode the farmer’s ability to choose.There may be advantages to using the bundled products. It is easier, no question. But farmers are also losing important control over their farm business, being told everything but what day to plant and how much they can sell it for.Have you ever talked to a Prince Edward Island potato farmer about being told how much he can sell his potatoes for? Ask him how much he likes being told how much he’ll pay for seed, how much he’ll pay for the inputs to grow that seed and how much he can sell them for.What is left for the farmer, other than all the risk and taxes? How long will it be before canola producers, for example, will be told what buyer they must sell to and how much they will get paid?Farmers should also speak up about research that is in the farmers’ interest. We should be able to have seed with great genetics that can be treated with one product at a price that has farmers’ profit as a priority.

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