Western Canadian cereal commissions are asking the federal government for more consultations on seed royalties.

Alberta Wheat Commission Chair, Kevin Bender, says farmers are paying a royalty costing a couple dollars a bushel for certified seed, which then goes back to the breeder to facilitate investment into plant breeding programs.

The two models being proposed through the Government of Canada's consultation process on value creation are end point royalties and trailing royalties for wheat, oat and barley seed.

Bender describes end point royalties as a levy farmers pay when their grain is delivered, and trailing royalties as a royalty farmers pay upfront, then a declining royalty is charged on farm-saved seed the succeeding years.

"Certified seed use in Canada is quite low," Bender says. "It's probably around the 20 per cent mark, so a lot of seed is cleaned on farm and reused, which Alberta Wheat Commission supports farmers right to do that...With such a low rate of certified seed use, there's not a lot of money going back into breeding programs which is a deterrent to new investment into new investment in breeding in Canada."

Bender says over 90 per cent of plant breeding is done through Agriculture Canada and universities, as there's nothing attracting private businesses to invest in Canada.

However, there's been push back from the farming community during consultations on these proposed royalty models.

Bender says there hasn't been a clear enough description of what the economic benefit will be for farmers.

"For something to be put into place, there has to be an economic benefit shown to farmers that's going to make them more money on their farm. So we're all in favour of a new value system that will attract more dollars into investment, but it has to go both ways and be profitable for both sides."

In a letter to Canada's Agriculture Minister, Lawrence Macaulay, the cereal commissions say the likelihood of an industry wide agreement on either side of the proposed models is low, and they're asking for more consultation which would include considering other options.

The commissions say the government must put in the time and due diligence into issue to ensure the results are in the best interest of producers.

Farmers will be giving more of their feedback on the seed royalties at a session hosted at CropSphere in Saskatoon on Wednesday, January 16.

Alberta producers can give their input at the Alberta Federation of Agriculture AGM in Leduc on Thursday, January 17, as well as at Farm Tech, coming up in Edmonton at the end of the month.

The Alberta Wheat Comission will also be livestreaming the the Farm Tech session on their website.

For more information, and to provide your feedback on the issue, visit the Alberta Wheat Commissions website.


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