GFM Network News

(Jack Dykinga photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Prairie farm slapped with plant breeders’ rights infringement penalties

Farmers need to know who they are buying seed from to avoid potentially significant costs

Infringing on Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR) has cost a large southern Alberta farm a record $737,597. “The settlement relates to unauthorized advertisements and sales of PBR-protected barley and wheat varieties,” Alliance Seed, SeCan and an unnamed seed company said in a news release Wednesday. The settlement “includes the royalties, plus legal fees and penalties,” Todd

wheat research

Reporter’s Take: Farmer-owned AAFC?

In 2019 Canadian farmers grossed almost $37 billion from crop sales. Each started with a seed. That’s why getting farmers to pay more for plant breeding — often referred to as “value creation” — is important. It’s also contentious. Nobody wants to pay more and a lot of farmers worry royalties will enrich seed companies

SeCan says PBR enforcement will ensure farmers get the best possible varieties by rewarding the breeders who develop them.

Saskatchewan farmer pays up after breaching plant breeders’ rights

Seed companies warn infringers potentially face significant costs, not only for unpaid royalties 
but also the investigation and court costs

Canada has had plant breeders’ rights (PBR) regulations for 25 years, yet some farmers still breach them. Dustin Hawkins, who farms near Kincaid, Sask., is the latest to be penalized for the unauthorized advertising and sale of durum wheat varieties AC Transcend and AC Strongfield, whose rights are held by FP Genetics and SeCan, respectively.

Wheat seeds spilling from hand, close-up

PBR enforcement numbers highest on record

Financial penalties can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands, depending on the level of illegal sales

This past year was the busiest on record for plant breeders’ rights education and enforcement. Todd Hyra, western Canadian business manager for SeCan, said there were over 400 advertisements for seed sales that required investigation industry-wide through the Canadian Plant Technology Agency (CPTA), the body established to protect intellectual property rights. “SeCan alone had 40

(Dave Bedard photo)

PBR breach to cost Saskatchewan seed grower $150K

A Saskatchewan seed grower will pay $150,000 to SeCan — the largest penalty in the seed company’s history — for breaching SeCan’s plant breeders rights (PBR). Harvey Marcil of Pasqua Farms near Moose Jaw, Sask., has also agreed to stop making unauthorized seed sales and was expelled from SeCan’s membership, Todd Hyra, SeCan’s business manager

Find out the type of Plant Breeders’ Rights a variety has and who has those rights at

What you can do to comply with seed laws

The first step is buying certified seed, the second is documenting it

The simplest way for farmers to avoid breaching Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR) rules, including under the newly implemented UPOV ’91, is to buy certified seed, says Lorne Hadley, executive director of the Canadian Plant Technology Agency (CPTA). What constitutes a breach? It boils down to buying seed that doesn’t return a royalty to the variety’s


Canterra, Limagrain plan cereal breeding j.v.

Canada’s recent moves to tighten protections of plant breeders’ rights are getting the credit for encouraging a new private-sector joint venture in cereal seed development for the Prairie market. Canterra Seeds and French farmer co-operative Limagrain on Thursday announced they would further tie up their wheat variety commercialization work through a new joint seed breeding

(Ralph Pearce photo)

Pearce: Cereal seed firm pressing certified seed issue

It’s no secret that the cereal sector has had a tough time trying to convince growers to purchase certified seed, but companies such as C+M Seeds are actively making their case. Palmerston, Ont.-based C+M, during its annual Red Wheat Industry Day on Thursday, brought growers an extensive breakdown of updated plant breeders’ rights (PBR) in

(Country Guide file photo)

Canada ratifies UPOV ’91 seed treaty

Canadian crop commodity groups are hailing the federal government’s move to ratify Canada’s participation in the international UPOV ’91 treaty as a signal the country is “open for national and international investment.” Canada’s representatives to the World Trade Organization, on Friday in Geneva, deposited the government’s “instrument of ratification” for the 1991 Act of the

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, shown here last month in Saskatoon, on Friday announced royal assent for his Bill C-18, the Agricultural Growth Act. (

Ritz’s Agricultural Growth Act now law

Banff — There was applause here when plant breeders, seed companies and farmers at the Prairie Recommending Committee for Wheat, Rye and Triticale heard the Agricultural Growth Act, with its stronger intellectual property rights, was about to receive royal assent. Immediately after the bill received royal assent Wednesday, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz tabled a treaty