Trailing seed royalty non-demographic

The question of implementing a “Seed Royalty” has been drawn to my attention.

What I understand is that the seed sector is planning an industry-wide amalgamation that would combine the five major seed organizations, the Canadian Seed Growers Association, the Canadian Seed Trade Association, the Canadian Seed Institute, the Canadian Plant Technology Agency and the Commercial Seed Analysts Association into one “entity” that would seek control of the entire seed industry. 

This “entity” would be a one-stop-shop that would handle the production and sale of seed. 

The “entity” would cover the cost of administration, production and the sale of seed through fees and levies and the cost of research through certified seed sales trailing royalty contract on every acre of particular varieties sown by farmers, somewhat similar to that of canola.

I also understand that research and development of seed varieties of wheat, oats, barley, rye, etc. is primarily done by universities and funded by Agriculture & Agri Food Canada, provincial and federal governments and producers.

This procedure has been highly successful and has had positive continuity and been reasonably affordable by our present funding structures. 

Primary producers do not want or require trailing royalties or unnecessary extra costs.

We have an unwritten cheap food policy instituted by the federal government in this country. All people require food to live and the research and development of seed varieties should be a cost that is bore by the entire population, not just the farmer. 

The government is the only one in a democracy that can tax the general population.

Our government must not shirk their responsibility to continue to fund research of varieties when required.  

Producers through crop commission, Western Grain Research Foundation and royalties paid on the purchase of certified seed are contributing presently over 30 million dollars to seed variety development and Agricultural research. 

The suggestion that “a trailing seed royalty” should be applied to every acre of grain that a farmer plants, from seed produced on his own land, makes the farmer responsible for subsidizing the cost of food to the consumer; and at the same time gives the control of seed to a so-called “seed entity” with corporate interests.  

This would effectively limit a farmer’s ability to sell grain unless he or she signs a contract with the “seed entity” which will include the trailing royalty payments on every acre sown.  

If the proposed system were to go ahead it would free the government from its responsibility of funding research and the costs would be passed on to the farmer in an annual royalty for using homegrown seed, similar to what the chemical companies have done with canola.  

Therefore, research funding should remain as is and be the government’s responsibility -not the responsibility of the farmers.

Primary producers must trade on the world market, this denies them the opportunity to pass on their costs to anyone else.  

The market dictates the price – not the farmer.  The farmer must take what he gets. The marketplace must be respected by “the entity” as well.  

The federal government has brought a halt to consultations with farmers regarding trailing royalties. 

Consultations must be continued with primary producers, without question. 

While these consultations continue the Canadian Seed Trade Associations “pilot seed royalty project” must be put on hold.  

Under the present circumstances, primary producers of food are being denied a voice in a very undemocratic way.

Primary producers are on the front line of food production and as a minority, should not be exploited.  They are supplying an essential service and the Minister of Agriculture would do well to communicate with primary producers on a regular basis.

This seed trailing royalty fiasco is looked at by the vast majority of primary producers as an attempt of a so-called “seed entity amalgamation” to seize control of the seed industry and play toward gaining government support, that will, in turn, allow the government to lessen its responsibility to govern fairly with funding and to honestly support primary producers in the production of cheap food for society.

This trailing royalty must not be supported by farmers nor supported by a democratic government.


W. Douglas Fawcett

Consort, Alta.

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