Farmer input wanted on best way to fund future pulse research

Saskatchewan Pulse Growers is asking growers how best to fund research in the future.

The organization’s 15-year funding arrangement with the University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Centre ends in 2020. It gives Saskatchewan farmers exclusive rights to new varieties.

Growers at the regional meeting in Regina Feb. 5 heard that the cost of breeding new varieties is escalating and simply renewing the existing agreement isn’t likely to keep pace.

“I think they need more revenue to have a better program,” said SPG director Gerrid Gust, who led the session on funding.

“As far as exactly as it’s been in the past, that’s unlikely.”

Attendees were asked for their thoughts on end point royalties as an option.

“Paying on production I think is a positive as long as the paperwork doesn’t get so onerous on delivery that it isn’t one of these government type programs,” said one farmer.

If everyone pays the same percentage, it is fair, he said.

Another noted that end point royalties could open up the research to private companies.

Gust said that is a possibility but perhaps not for all pulse crops. He said there are pea breeders who don’t work in Saskatchewan because of the agreement with the CDC, but he questioned whether a company would work with small green lentils, for example.

He said private companies were not lobbying SPG for a different arrangement.

“Unequivocally no, we’re not being lobbied,” he said in response to an audience question, adding there is indirect lobbying but not a concerted effort.

Others raised concerns about end point royalty money not necessarily being used for breeding, a potential lack of spending on smaller, niche varieties and benefits no longer accruing to growers.

“This is definitely the start of a discussion,” Gust said.

“We’re not making any decisions today.”

He said SPG also needs to know what the CDC needs.

“We can’t give them breeding money and end point royalties,” he said.

Gust added there are still many questions to be answered, including how to leverage more money from Alberta growers. More consultation will take place.

The agreement with CDC has been in place since 1997 and renewed a couple of times.

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