January-February NFU (National) Newsletter

Click on the link for your electronic copy of the
January-February edition of the NFU Newsletter. 

Contents:

Farm Saved Seed Royalties: What you need to know – The corporate seed industry is lobbying the federal government to bring in new regulations under Canada’s Plant Breeders Rights Act to set up a system that would force farmers who plant newer varieties to pay a royalty every year even when planting farm saved seed. This newsletter article explains the issue, the process, and defines key terms farmers need to know about to defend our seed rights.

Why the NFU is in court supporting federal jurisdiction over greenhouse gas pollution pricing – The NFU has the status of Intervener in the Constitutional Reference Case regarding federal jurisdiction over climate change measures. This is not an endorsement of the current federal government’s greenhouse gas emission pricing measures; it is recognition that a national framework needs to be created through the principles of co‐operative federalism, which requires federal leadership and enforcement. Equitable results cannot be achieved if individual provinces are allowed to opt out, free‐riding or unfairly undermining others’ efforts

NFU supports rapid phase out of neonicotinoid insecticides – This article provides the comments NFU sent in to the Pest Management Regulatory Agency about its proposed decision to phase out all agricultural uses of neonicotinoid insecticides based on their unacceptable risk to aquatic invertebrates. PMRA has not yet announced the final decisions.

New NAFTA Update – On the eve of the formal signing ceremony for the new NAFTA (or USMCA), the NFU wrote to the Prime Minister. All three countries signed the agreement on November 30 but it does not go into effect until each country ratifies it. In the USA Democrats now have a majority in the House of Representatives, and may re-open negotiations. It is likely that it will be debated in Parliament in mid-March.

Download a pdf (printable) here.

PC Party Candidates Debate Land Issues

The National Farmers Union (NFU) is sponsoring a forum with the five Progressive Conservative (PC) leadership candidates on the issue of the shifting control of land in PEI The forum will be held at the Murchison Centre, 17 St Pius X Ave, Charlottetown on Tuesday, January 22, 2019 at 7:30 pm.

The NFU for years has maintained that the weakness of the Lands Protection Act and other land-related acts has caused an alarming consolidation of land in fewer and fewer hands. The land is being excessively used for the profit of the few. This results in the impoverishment of Island lands. There is little hope of curtailing the corporate greed for the control of more land when there is lack of political will on the part of government. The question that the National Farmers Union asks of each of the five PC leadership hopefuls is: How will you exercise your political will to protect the land?

The forum chair is Bill McGuire, well known Island journalist, newly retired. Representing the NFU is its District Director, Douglas Campbell.

All Islanders welcome, especially those who want the protection of PEI lands and who expect MLAs, in government and opposition, to be accountable for the future of the land.

AAFC Seed Royalty Consultation – Charlottetown, Friday January 18

The only AAFC Seed Royalty Consultation event planned for Atlantic Canada is on Friday January 18, 2019 10:00 am to 4:00 pm at the Delta Hotels Prince Edward.  NOTE: It is not necessary to register – the important thing is to have as many farmers there as possible. Bring a friend or two!

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The corporate seed industry has convinced the federal government to take the next step towards a system to make farmers pay seed companies for seed every year even when we use farm-saved seed. They are proposing to change regulations under the UPOV ’91 Plant Breeders Rights Act, and are considering two approaches – End Point Royalties or Trailing Contracts that would apply to new varieties registered after February 2015.

The End Point Royalty approach would require farmers to pay a royalty on their harvested crop (a per bushel royalty) if they grow a newer variety. The Trailing Contract approach would require farmers to ask the seed company for permission to plant seed saved from a previous crop of a newer variety and make farmers pay them a royalty when using farm saved seed. The seed industry likes the Trailing Contract option best because it would bring in more money and would involve setting up a comprehensive data collection system to track farm saved seed users.

The seed industry expects to collect over $100 million of dollars every year from these compulsory payments. This money would go to seed companies such as Bayer, Syngenta, BASF and DowDupont. The system for charging a royalty on crops harvested from farm saved seed would be developed for wheat first, with the intent of applying it to other cereal crops, pulse crops, and other crop kinds later.

The NFU opposes the UPOV ’91 seed law, which Canada enacted in 2015, because it turns farmers’ age-old right to save and use farm saved seed into a privilege that can be taken away by regulation.

The NFU is opposed to End Point Royalties and Trailing Contracts. These are simply ways to increase the monopoly power of seed companies by forcing farmers to pay more for seed, restricting farmers’ right to save seed and making us pay them for seed we grow on our farms.

We call for keeping farmers’ right to save and use our own seed, and for public funding and farmer-controlled check-off funding to support plant breeding. The government must be stopped from bringing in a regulation to take away the “farmers’ privilege” under the Plant Breeders Rights Act.

If you would like to get more involved with the NFU’s campaign to protect the farmer’s right to save and use farm-saved seed, please email nfu@nfu.ca with “Seed Sovereignty” in the subject line.

Stop This Attack on Island Farmland

GUEST OPINION BY EDITH LING

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In response to David Weale’s opinion article in The Guardian Nov. 29, Alan Holman, in the Dec. 1, issue of the newspaper, expressed his opinion that farmers and many Islanders are not concerned about who owns the land despite the takeover of Island farm land by large corporations, including the Irving empire and the sale of precious farm land to Asian interests (GEBIS, etc.).

One of the main purposes of this act is to preserve Island farmland for farm families and to prevent the accumulation of farm land in the hands of large industrial corporations, i.e. the Irvings. Now, they and other large corporations have found loopholes in the act all with the apparent blessing of the provincial government.

It is unfortunate that Mr. Holman did not attend the meeting of the Select Standing Committee on Communities, Land and the Environment Nov. 1, 2018 and witness the snow job presented by Robert Irving. Mr. Holman would have easily seen a very smooth presentation in which Irving asked that the land limits under the LPA be increased for potato producers. Continue reading