Canadian seed companies speak out on royalties

Four independent seed companies in Western Canada have joined forces to express their support for proposed funding changes in the Canadian cereal breeding sector.

In a joint news release dated Jan. 11, seed companies Alliance Seed, Canterra, FP Genetics and SeCan said they hope to provide seed customers with more clarity about proposed funding changes and how will affect primary producers.

“A farm-saved seed royalty is an extremely efficient and low-cost means of ensuring all farmers share in the cost of accessing new cutting-edge genetics faster,” said Todd Hyra, business manager for SeCan in Western Canada.

“The system being proposed is designed to provide maximum value, choice and transparency to farmers by directly rewarding the public or private plant breeders who deliver the best new varieties that you choose to plant on your farm.”

The Jan. 11 news release says proposed funding changes that would enhance plant breeding and variety development efforts in Canada have become a divisive issue among western Canadian crop producers.

Stakeholders in the Canadian cereal grains sector have been debating the merits of two proposed funding mechanisms — end point royalties and trailing royalties on farm-saved seed.

Some grain growers say the introduction of either system will result in higher production costs and lower farmgate returns.

But seed companies say increasing the level of farmer investment in plant breeding is the best way to reduce long-term production costs on Canadian grain farms.

“Canada invests less than most of our major wheat export competitors and will only fall further behind unless there is more plant breeding investment,” the companies said.

Efforts to generate more revenue in the Canadian seed industry are not being driven by big multinationals, they added.

“Canada is mainly dependant on public and smaller private breeding programs for new innovation in cereals. These programs will be the major beneficiaries.”

The four companies said existing seed varieties will continue to be made available without farm-saved seed royalties as long as demand exists.

Representatives from Alliance, Canterra, FP Genetics and SeCan will be attending upcoming agricultural shows and meetings and will be available to discuss the topic with primary producers.

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