U.S. firm receives access to CDC pea varieties

The U of S Crop Development Centre finalizes a deal to give Canterra’s American affiliate access to six varieties

Six pea varieties developed at the University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Centre will be heading south this spring, hoping to make a splash in the American market.

Officials from the CDC and Canterra Seeds announced March 30 that they have finalized a deal that will give Canterra’s U.S. affiliate — Meridian Seeds — access to six CDC pea varieties beginning this year.

Meridian will have exclusive U.S. distribution rights for CDC Amarillo, CDC Meadow, CDC Patrick, CDC Raezer, CDC Saffron and CDC Treasure pea varieties.

Canterra won the rights to distribute the varieties in the U.S. market last year following an open bid competition.

Since then, Canterra, Meridian and the CDC have been working together to determine which varieties should be included in the agreement.

Supplies of the six varieties will be exported to Meridian Seeds’ seed grower members this year.

Additional CDC varieties may be added to the list as they become eligible.

Meridian, like Canterra in Canada, is a network of seed grower shareholders who grow and distribute pedigreed seed to commercial farmers.

Andy Draeger, Meridian’s general manager, said U.S. pulse acreage has been increasing over the past few years.

He said American growers will be eager to gain access to the CDC varieties, although volumes available in the U.S. will likely be limited.

“There’s probably not going to be much movement across this year,” he said.

“We just got the license signed … and yellow peas have definitely been sold out since January. We do anticipate moving some greens across but how much is undetermined at this point.”

The estimated value of the deal was not made public. Royalties will be collected on all pedigreed material that is planted or sold in the United States.

Kofi Agblor, CDC’s managing director, said revenue generated through the deal will be reinvested in CDC’s pulse breeding programs.

CDC has had distribution agreements with other American agents in the past.

However, the deal with Canterra is expected to boost American sales by tapping into Meridian’s U.S. distribution network, which includes 72 grower members in 12 U.S. states.

Some pea producers in Saskatchewan have questioned whether a Canadian breeding program funded by producer checkoffs and public dollars should be selling Canadian varieties to competing growers.

But Carl Potts, executive director of Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, said the decision to sell distribution rights in the United States is nothing new.

The CDC and SPG have a long-term agreement in place that gives SPG exclusive global commercialization rights for all CDC pulse crop varieties, Potts said.

However, there is always some leakage, he added.

“Leakage across borders, including to the United States, is something that isn’t completely preventable so for a number of years, the SPG has basically surrendered those international rights back to the CDC … two or three years (after the varieties have been) released here in Canada,” Potts explained.

“From our perspective, if the varieties are likely to be grown in other places like the U.S. anyways, we feel its better to have a system set up … whereby those varieties can … be sold legally and can actually generate additional … revenues to be re-invested….”

brian.cross@producer.com

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