Resolution on variety use agreements spurs great debate at Sask Pulse Growers AGM

At Tuesday’s annual meeting of the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers Association, a resolution on variety use agreements, also sometimes referred to as trailing royalties, received a great deal of debate culminating in a very close vote.

Sask Pulse has a breeding agreement with the private plant breeding company Limagrain and royalties will be part of the future on new pulse crop varieties that are developed. This is a great departure from the 20 years that Sask Pulse funded royalty free variety development with the University’s Crop Development Centre.

A resolution presented to the Sask Pulse AGM called for pulse varieties funded by levy payers to not have variety use agreements attached. With a variety use agreement, producers can save their own seed, but they have to pay a fee each year they seed it. Many producers spoke both for and against variety use agreements. Those opposed argued that producers shouldn’t have to pay twice. They worry about seed costs escalating and producers losing control. Those in favour of variety use agreements, including present and past directors of Sask Pulse, argued that royalties are needed to attract the necessary work to address problems like root rot saying private companies would otherwise not be interested in relatively small acreage crops like lentils and peas.

They also noted that existing varieties will continue to be royalty free and producers can chose whether new varieties are worth the extra cost. When it came to a vote, the resolution opposing variety use agreements was lost, but it was close with 53 per cent voting against the resolution.

More from 620 CKRM