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431-00137 (Agriculture)

Paper petition

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons in Parliament assembled

We, the undersigned residents of Canada, recognize the inherent rights of farmers — derived from thousands of years of custom and tradition — to freely save, reuse, select, exchange, condition, store, and sell seeds. Restrictions on farmers' traditional practices are harmful to farmers, citizens, and society in general. Amendments to the Plant Breeders Rights Act passed in 2015 downgraded farmers' right to save and plant seed from their crops to a mere "farmers' privilege," which is now in danger of being restricted and/or eliminated by regulation.

Therefore, your petitioners call upon Parliament to enshrine, in legislation, the inalienable rights of farmers and other Canadians to save, reuse, select, exchange, and sell seeds. In addition, we call upon the government of Canada to refrain from making any regulations under the Plant Breeders' Rights Act that would further erode farmers' rights and/or add to farmers' costs by restricting or eliminating the "farmers' privilege".

Response by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, PC, MP

The Government of Canada notes the concerns raised by the petitioners regarding farmers’ rights to save, sell, and reuse seeds. In Canada’s Plant Breeders’ Rights Act, “farmer’s privilege” allows farmers to continue saving, conditioning (clean, treat, etc.), and storing seeds of Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR)-protected plant varieties for replanting on their own land. The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of this practice for Canadian farmers and does not intend to remove their ability to do so.

The Government of Canada understands that many farmers place considerable value on their ability to save seed and often choose specific crop kinds and varieties that allow for replanting of saved seed in subsequent years. At the same time, other agricultural sector stakeholders, including variety developers and producer groups, have signaled a desire for Canada to consider some form of value creation model that would allow for royalties to be collected on farm-saved seed, with the overarching goal of attracting increased investment into cereals variety development for the benefit of farmers and the entire value chain. The Government also recognizes that such royalties would have to provide significant value to producers to be successful.

Plant breeders’ rights is a voluntary form of intellectual property protection that allows plant breeders to recover the significant initial costs of variety development and generate the funds necessary for further reinvestment in this activity. Introducing new plant varieties into the marketplace is an important means of increasing agricultural productivity and sustainability and the economic viability of the agricultural sector.

After being asked in 2017 by the industry-government forum called the Grains Roundtable, the Government of Canada consulted cereals stakeholders on two proposed value creation models. Given the work currently underway by some producer organizations and the seed industry to discuss a path forward on value creation, further Government-led consultation activities are not yet planned. The Government continues to support a strong public role for wheat research, and, in fact, increased wheat research funding for the Canadian National Wheat Cluster in the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, from the last 5-year agreement.. AAFC is pleased with the leadership and efforts that industry is putting forth and will continue to monitor the outcomes of the industry-led projects underway. AAFC is committed to Canada’s grain growers in moving towards a stronger, more innovative and more competitive sector in the global marketplace.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s overarching goal is to support the sector in a way that allows it to be a leader in job creation and innovation. The Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a five-year, $3 billion investment by federal, provincial, and territorial governments to strengthen the agriculture and agri-food sector, will enhance sector competitiveness by advancing its science and innovation capacity and encouraging the adoption of innovative products and practices with an emphasis on sustainable and clean growth.

Presented to the House of Commons
Mark Gerretsen (Kingston and the Islands)
March 9, 2020 (Petition No. 431-00137)
Government response tabled
May 25, 2020
Photo - Mark Gerretsen
Kingston and the Islands
Liberal Caucus

Only validated signatures are counted towards the total number of signatures.

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