Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG) says it has licensed the distribution rights for select newer pea, lentil and chickpea varieties outside of Saskatchewan to SeCan and SeedNet.
Since 1997, SPG has funded the pulse breeding program at the University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Centre (CDC) in exchange for commercial rights to pulse crop varieties developed at the CDC.
“Saskatchewan pulse producers contribute significant upfront funding towards the development of CDC varieties,” notes SPG executive director Carl Potts, in a Nov. 2 statement. “These contributions are made through SPG’s investment of pulse levy towards the CDC pulse breeding program. In exchange for this investment, SPG ensures that Saskatchewan growers are provided with royalty-free access to CDC-developed varieties.”
In licensing the distribution outside of Saskatchewan, SPG says it’s ensuring that growers in other provinces (Alberta and Manitoba) are paying for access to varieties developed with SPG funding.
“By working together with SeCan and SeedNet, we are creating a mechanism for growers in Alberta and Manitoba, or other regions of Canada, to pay for access to CDC varieties through a seed-royalty system,” says Potts.
SeCan has more than 700 independent seed business members across the country. SeedNet is a smaller group of independent seed growers in southern Alberta.
The agreements with SeCan and SeedNet cover a 10-year period, beginning in the 2018 growing season.
In a memo to seed growers, SPG says seed growers in Saskatchewan will still be able to buy and sell seed for these varieties without paying a royalty, however they will have to remit royalties to SeCan or SeedNet if selling seed from licensed varieties to be grown outside of Saskatchewan.
Seed growers outside of Saskatchewan will be required to join SeCan and/or SeedNet, and collect a royalty in order to sell seed. All of the varieties involved are protected by PBR ’91 plant breeders’ rights. (There are older CDC varieties that pre-date PBR ’91 that are not part of this licensing deal.)
“If the seed is being planted in Saskatchewan, the traditional rules apply. The check-off is provided through SPG and helps fund the breeding program. Outside Saskatchewan there is no check-off flowing fees back to the breeding program, so this helps level the playing field,” explains Todd Hyra, SeCan’s business manager for Western Canada.
“Generally farmers, seed growers are all honest people and want to respect the intellectual property, so I’m confident that will be the case,” he continues.
Hyra says all but two of the seed growers in Alberta and Manitoba with existing seed for varieties that SeCan has licensed are already SeCan members.
Varieties involved in SPG’s licensing arrangements with SeCan and SeedNet:
SPG is currently in the middle of a five-year, nearly $23 million breeding deal with the Crop Development Centre that ends in 2019-2020.