Prairie wheat and barley commissions concerned about impact of SVUAs
Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association (MWBGA), Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission (Sask Wheat), Saskatchewan Barley Development Commission (SaskBarley), Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC), and Alberta Barley have significant concerns about the Seed Variety Use Agreement (SVUA) pilot project and its future impact on western Canadian wheat and barley producers.
The SVUA pilot project was announced on February 25, 2020 by the seed industry at the Prairie Grain Development Committee (PGDC) meetings in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The pilot imposes the trailing royalty collection mechanism on farm-saved seed of selected crop varieties through a contract agreement.
The five wheat and barley commissions are not a party to, nor supportive of this pilot SVUA program. The pilot is separate from the federal government’s consultation process on a new seed royalty structure and signals the seed industry’s commitment to the SVUA model despite the on-going consultation. The consultation process, which also includes the End Point Royalty (EPR) model in addition to the trailing royalty model, was initiated by the federal government to inform the value chain and attempt to work toward the best model for all involved including farmers. Further, the SVUAs are being implemented via contract law and not a regulatory change, resulting in significant concerns from the commissions about the future of the consultation process.
“MWBGA has questions about the implications of the proposed SVUA pilot and its impact on the credibility of the ongoing consultation process being managed by AAFC and the CFIA,” said Fred Greig, MWBGA Chair. “We also continue to wait for the economic analysis to be released by AAFC as the next step in the consultation process.”
“Sask Wheat wants to ensure producers’ rights, such as the right to use farm-saved seed, are being protected in any pilot contracts and that producers clearly understand the impact of the contracts on their farms,” said Brett Halstead, Sask Wheat Chair. “We are concerned that the proposed trailing royalties could inhibit the adoption of midge tolerant varieties, should they be included as part of the pilot, which would have negative implications for the Midge Tolerant Wheat program.”
“This program has the potential to create frustration for farmers,” said Jason Skotheim, SaskBarley Chair. “There needs to be a clear demonstration of value to producers from this pilot program. Until that time, the pilot program should not expand to other crops such as barley, that already struggle with unique issues on variety uptake.”
“AWC believes that any trailing royalty system on varieties developed through the public breeding programs of AAFC and the western universities must take into account the fact that farmers have already made a substantial investment in the development of those varieties,” said Todd Hames, AWC Chair.
“It is critical that the government complete their consultations with grain producers and put a transparent and accountable process in place to demonstrate that the extra money producers are paying is advancing varietal development,” said Dave Bishop, Alberta Barley Chair.
The five commissions emphasize that it is necessary for AAFC to provide assurance that all royalties collected through the SVUA on AAFC publicly bred varieties will be returned to AAFC’s wheat variety breeding program in an open and transparent way to supplement the funding currently provided by producers and the federal government.
For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association
Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission
Saskatchewan Barley Development Commission
Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions