The federal government is hosting consultations across the country to discuss a proposal that would see farmers pay royalties on farm-saved seed.
Consultations will be held November 30th in Ottawa, December 4th in Saskatoon and December 6th in Edmonton. A meeting was also held November 16th in Winnipeg.
"The whole idea is two generate additional royalties to encourage plant breeders, whether they be home-grown talent here in Canada with public breeding programs, or plant breeders from any part of the world, we want to attract anyone who wants to invest in our crops," said Todd Hyra, president of the Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA). "It's a long term play, so dollars that go in today, and work that's done today, won't actually hit fields for another 10 - 12 years. It's about setting up our future."
The two options being discussed are end-point royalties and a seed variety use agreement. Hyra notes most developed countries have some form of additional collection.
Terry Boehm, chair of the National Farmers Union Seed and Trait Committee, doesn't like either of those options.
"I think that Farmers aren't interested in either one of the options and would much rather see some reinforcement to our existing system of plant varietal development rather than a corporate tax through royalties without any farmer control, any farmer input, or any farmer ability to control the level they're set at; that's being proposed by the seed synergy group, which essentially represents the big seed companies in the world."
Boehm notes there is no assurance that the money collected would go into research, adding it would negatively impact farmers' bottom lines.
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