Seed royalty talks remain on track

Online consultations surrounding the controversial issue of farm-saved seed royalties are on track to be launched this spring, according to an official from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Anthony Parker, commissioner of the Plant Breeders Rights Office at the CFIA, says Ottawa aims to launch the online portion of seed royalty discussions before June 21.

The online consultations will seek additional input from individuals and organizations affected by the potential collection of royalties on farm-saved seed.

It will also include an in-depth economic analysis being prepared by Agriculture Canada.

The economic analysis will assess the financial costs and benefits of implementing a new royalty collection mechanism.

“We’re still targeting a spring launch for the online consultations and of course we’re very mindful that this is coming up to be a very busy time for producers, so we want to ensure that they … can be meaningfully engaged in it,” said Parker.

“I know we had indicated earlier that it was going to be (launched) a little bit earlier but the economic analysis is very detailed and we want to make sure that that information gets into the online consultation.”

Industry-wide discussions on farm-saved seed royalties were launched last fall.

Prairie meetings held in Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Edmonton attracted hundreds of commercial grain growers, many of whom expressed strong opposition to the notion of collecting additional royalties on farm-saved seed.

Ottawa is assessing the merits of two royalty collection models — end-point royalties and trailing contracts on the use of farm-saved seed. However, government officials have indicated that other models may be considered.

Parker said face-to-face meetings with seed industry stakeholders are still ongoing.

A meeting with groups in Quebec is tentatively scheduled for May 3.

The online phase of the consultative process will then be launched, allowing additional feedback.

Parker said final details of the on-line process aren’t yet determined.

“We want to make sure we have it online for a sufficient period of time so (we’re) targeting about that 90-day window when producers can have an opportunity (to provide additional comments).”

The 90-day feedback period is a target and has yet to be finalized, he added.

Canada’s federal election scheduled to take place on or before Oct. 21, could further delay the process, said Parker.

brian.cross@producer.com

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