New Model Launched for Access to CDC Pulse Varieties

Pulse licensing system gives Alberta growers access to CDC new varieties, but will raise seed costs for farmers.

In early 2016, the Alberta Pulse Growers pulled its research funding from the University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Centre (CDC). Since then, members of the Alberta Seed Growers (ASG) have been concerned about access to new varieties of pulses, as there was only a limited amount of seed released to Alberta each year.

“When the research funding was pulled, many seed growers were left at a disadvantage for access to new varieties,” notes ASG national board member Ron Markert.

Things have changed, and the seed growers in Alberta have formal access to CDC varieties once again. Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG) has licensed the distribution rights for select CDC pulse varieties in provinces outside of Saskatchewan to SeCan and SeedNet for a 10-year period.

“This is a significant development for Alberta seed growers and farmers,” says Markert.

Here are the basic implications of the deal, which takes effect for the 2018 growing season.

It involves a royalty system and seed growers must be members of SeedNet or SeCan to access the seed.

By licensing the distribution of select varieties for sale in provinces outside of Saskatchewan, SPG is ensuring that growers in other provinces also pay for access to CDC varieties through a seed-royalty system. Licensing the distribution rights will not impact Saskatchewan growers’ ability to access these varieties royalty-free.

For seed growers outside Saskatchewan that are interested in accessing the varieties that have been licensed for distribution outside Saskatchewan, they can contact SeCan and SeedNet for more information.

Seed growers who are not a part of SeCan and SeedNet and have not previously purchased seed of the licensed varieties may contact each company regarding the potential to join and have the opportunity to access these varieties.

Seed growers in Saskatchewan are not permitted to sell seed of CDC-developed varieties to seed growers or commercial producers outside of Saskatchewan without an agreement in place with either SeCan or SeedNet.

“There was a lot of uncertainty on how these products would be handled, and having this settled now with a full list of products has been well received by all SeCan members,” says Todd Hyra, western business manager for SeCan.

With the added royalty, farmers will pay more for certified seed.

Saskatchewan pulse producers contribute significant upfront funding towards the development of CDC varieties,” says Carl Potts, executive director of SPG. “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.”

“The new arrangement will result in higher seed cost for farmers in Alberta,” notes Elizabeth Tokariuk, general manager for SeedNet. “The arrangement represents one of the first value capture models being enacted via the royalty system.”

Seed growers may need to overcome price objections due to the royalty fee that will need to be built into the seed cost. Tokariuk says SeedNet is actively working with members to help them tackle potential challenges that arise from this.

“I think farmers recognize the value of CDC varieties and that quality is worth paying for,” she says.

Hyra agrees.

“It’s a shift. In Saskatchewan, a portion of the checkoff has been used to pay for the breeding. In Manitoba and Alberta there hasn’t been that consistent model. This provides a consistent way to flow back dollars from sales of the product and users of the product back to the breeding program. Obviously, no one likes paying more, but they recognize the value that CDC pulse varieties have been able to deliver over the years.”

For more information on the varieties licensed to SeCan and SeedNet, visit http://saskpulse.com/growing/varieties.