Several hundred farmers turned out in Saskatoon yesterday to learn more about Agriculture Canada’s seed royalty proposals that would change the way crop research and variety development is funded.
Seed companies are concerned that Canada is falling behind our major competitors, while some farmers are worried about losing the option to re-use their seed without paying a royalty.
Agriculture Canada’s Carla St Croix says they are looking at two proposals, one that is a variation of an endpoint royalty model.
“One is a variation of an endpoint royalty model. So it’s really a royalty payable on harvested material, so in this case grain, that’s collected where grain is sold or delivered in Canada. The second model is one enabled by a contract, again it’s a royalty collection model. It would be a mechanism that would allow for contracts where producers would agree to a certain set of conditions on their farm-saved seed use.”
Clint Riglin from Elrose was one of the farmers in attendance during the Ag Canada information session.
“I haven’t made up my mind but I do think that we have to pay for research in this business. So it has to be done somehow, I’m not sure that either one of these
alternatives is the right way. So I hope they take their time and do some more consultation before they make any decisions.”
SaskWheat chairwoman Laura Reiter says they have some concerns with the proposals.
“We’re supportive of farmer’s rights to use farm-saved seed and we’re concerned with what these changes might mean. The other thing we’re quite concerned about is the fact that most producers don’t know this is going on. There has to be a full discussion with producers before making any changes like this because this is going to make a huge impact on a farm.”
Provincial Agriculture Minister David Marit was in Saskatoon for the session.
“This was way too soon to try and come up with anything conclusive. What I’m going to ask is all the different boards and commissions to take it back to their respective boards and to their stakeholders. I’m hoping that later on in the Spring, maybe March or April, I’ll ask all the groups to come together and if we can come forward with a recommendation from the Province of Saskatchewan that’s really what I’m hoping for."
The Western Canadian Cereal Commissions have written a letter to the Federal Agriculture Minister saying the likelihood of an industry-wide agreement on either proposal is low and are asking for more consultations and the option of including other ideas.
Carla St. Croix with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada says a decision on the two options has not been made. She says more formal face to face sessions are planned for March, as well as online consultations.