The Prairie Oat Growers Association (POGA) would like to provide comments on the Grainews editor’s column titled “Paying for seed breeding.” In this article, Leeann Minogue suggested that “We’re already electing farmers to commodity boards across the Prairies, and these boards are already investing our money into research and development. These elected reps are studying the issues and taking time to learn about research needs and processes. Through our votes, they’re accountable to us. They’re farmers themselves, and they understand what we need. Why not have these board members allocate breeding money while they’re at it?” The producers POGA has talked to on this issue, including from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba agree.
The survey Minogue sites (conducted by AFA, APAS and KAP) also shows that the majority of producers do state that “increased investment in crop development is required provided it ensures long-term stable funding for public and university breeding programs.” The producers POGA has spoken with have stated they are willing to pay more for breeding but they want accountability on where those dollars are spent and want those dollars to actually go back to breeding and not towards increased profits for companies (some comments made suggest that well under 25 per cent may actually go back to breeding in the current proposed models).
Based on this feedback (received at many “Value Creation” events POGA attended last winter), in January 2019 POGA requested a third model be added to the consultation process, whereby increased check-offs would be collected on behalf of breeders with 100 per cent of that additional amount to be paid to the breeder as determined by an independent company or agency based on acres planted of each crop variety (as obtained by insured seeded acres data). This request was made to the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in January of 2019 but POGA was told that they would only include another model if one were presented to, and approved by, the Grains Roundtable (GRT), therefore, POGA made that request to that group in January 2019 as well.
POGA, once again, would ask the federal government to include additional options for producers to consider in the “Value Creation” framework, including increasing checkoffs to the not-for-profit, farmer-led commissions with those dollars being directed 100 per cent to private and public breeding programs. Producers continue to state they are willing to pay for improved varieties, but most are not happy with the two options provided. The question really comes down to is Canada looking to fund breeders for better varieties, and do so in a way that producers are happy with, or is this really a way for seed companies to collect extra dollars from producers?
A full article about POGA’s request can be found in the June 2019 edition of the Oat Scoop which can be read at poga.ca/news/oat-scoop/431-oat-scoop-june-2019.
Shawna Mathieson is the executive director of the Prairie Oat Growers Association.