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KAP passes resolutions on seed royalties

Delegates are apprehensive about changing the system and want to preserve publicly funded plant breeding

The Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) doesn’t have a policy on proposed new royalties for cereal seed, but delegates passed two resolutions at their advisory council meeting Nov. 12 offering some direction.

The first says KAP should lobby to have federal government oversight and a periodic review if one of the proposed new royalty schemes is implemented.

The mover, Reg Dyck who farms near Starbuck, said there’s a concern if changes are made farmers’ interests could be left out.

Minto farmer David Rourke said farmers need to be careful what they put their money into directly, or indirectly.

“We’ve got really good value out of Ag Canada and some of the other public breeding programs,” he said. “I’m just skeptical about what will come out of the system.”

Rourke said he spoke to an official with Bayer Crop Science who said it took the company 20 years to earn a profit from its investment in hybrid canola.

“But now they have almost a monopoly on good (canola) genetics in Western Canada,” Rourke said. “They were willing to put the money into it and we end up paying an awful lot for the genetics.”

(Bayer recently sold its Invigor canola program to BASF as part of Bayer’s purchase of Monsanto.)

KAP delegates also passed a resolution calling on KAP to lobby the federal and Manitoba governments to “preserve or enhance research funding for the Canadian seed industry.”

Dyck said publicly funded cereal breeding has served farmers well, but there’s a concern governments might invest less in plant breeding in the wake of a new royalty on cereal seed designed to return more money to seed companies to encourage more variety development.

“There is a risk that government may pull back from funding,” he said.

“We know now a lot is partnered with private and public, but we’d be really reluctant to see the public portion of research funding disappear.”

Ridgeville farmer Les Felsch agreed.

“I think we still need government in the program to make sure that any of the royalties applied in the private industry are held in check with the option of farmers being able to purchase seed other than from private companies,” he said. “Private companies are only in there for their shareholders’ interest and they will gouge us unless we have another option.”

About the author

Reporter

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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