Prairie Wheat, Barley Commissions Troubled By SVUA Pilot Project

- Barley field at dusk

The five Prairie wheat and barley commissions are extremely concerned by the recently announced Seed Variety Use Agreement (SVUA) pilot project and its future impact on western Canadian wheat and barley producers, the groups say in a joint press release.

The SVUA pilot project, announced on Feb. 25 by the seed industry at the Prairie Grain Development Committee meetings in Winnipeg, Man., imposes the trailing royalty collection mechanism on farm-saved seed of selected crop varieties through a contract agreement. Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association (MWBGA), Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission (Sask Wheat), Saskatchewan Barley Development Commission (SaskBarley), Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC), and Alberta Barley, are not a party to, nor supportive of it, the release says.

The pilot is separate from the federal government’s consultation process on a new seed royalty structure and signals the seed industry’s commitment to the SVUA model despite the on-going consultation, the release says. The consultation process, which also includes the End Point Royalty model in addition to the trailing royalty model, was initiated by the federal government to inform the value chain and attempt to work toward the best model for all involved including farmers. Further, the SVUAs are being implemented via contract law and not a regulatory change, resulting in significant concerns from the commissions about the future of the consultation process.

“AWC believes that any trailing royalty system on varieties developed through the public breeding programs of AAFC and the western universities must take into account the fact that farmers have already made a substantial investment in the development of those varieties,” Todd Hames, AWC chair, says in the release.

The five commissions feel it is necessary for AAFC to provide assurance all royalties collected through the SVUA on AAFC publicly bred varieties will be returned to AAFC’s wheat variety breeding program in an open and transparent way to supplement the funding currently provided by producers and the federal government.