Canterra, Limagrain plan cereal breeding j.v.

Canada’s recent moves to tighten protections of plant breeders’ rights are getting the credit for encouraging a new private-sector joint venture in cereal seed development for the Prairie market.

Canterra Seeds and French farmer co-operative Limagrain on Thursday announced they would further tie up their wheat variety commercialization work through a new joint seed breeding and development business.

The two companies said their new cereal breeding and development partnership, to be named Limagrain Cereals Research Canada, will be based in Saskatoon.

Limagrain — which has already worked with Canterra since 2012, through an exclusive license deal for commercialization of wheat varieties — also said Thursday it will buy a minority stake in Canterra, including rights to name representatives to Canterra’s board of directors.

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Both deals are expected to be completed by the end of September, subject to conditions such as the usual due diligence — and a requirement “that there be no changes to Bill C-18,” Canada’s federal Agricultural Growth Act.

“There is no understating the importance of this deal to Canadian agriculture,” Canterra CEO David Hansen said in a release.

Passed in February, C-18 — which, among other things, tightened up Canada’s Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR) legislation — “has opened up a whole new world of wheat,” he said.

“Our farmers can now buy and grow varieties that they couldn’t access before. For us as seed marketers, this is obviously an opportunity, but the opportunities are much greater for our customers, the producers.”

The Limagrain Cereals j.v. is expected to bring “significant added value” to the Prairie grain sector through development of new varieties of cereals, with a specific focus on wheat and use of “the most advanced technologies currently available.”

Passage of C-18 earlier this year, and Ottawa’s recent related move to ratify UPOV 91 (the 1991 International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants), puts Canada “finally on a level playing field with the rest of the international plant breeding community,” Hansen said in a separate federal government release.

France’s Limagrain already bills itself as the fourth largest seed company in the world and a top player in wheat and other cereals.

“Western Canada’s expertise in cereal breeding is globally recognized,” Bruno Carette, Limagrain Field Seeds’ CEO, said in the two companies’ release Thursday.

“We are proud to bring our cereal breeding expertise to Saskatoon — a hub for cereal development in Canada — and work collaboratively to breed advanced wheat genetics for farmers in Western Canada.”

“Today’s partnership announcement is a great example of how the Agricultural Growth Act is delivering for Canadian producers,” federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said at the j.v. announcement Thursday.

“Bringing Canada’s seed regulations up-to-date has created opportunities for new investment in crop breeding in Canada,” Rosetown, Sask. farmer Jim Wickett, chair of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers, said in a separate release Thursday.

The planned Canterra/Limagrain venture “demonstrates the value of creating a policy environment that encourages investment,” he said. “Prairie wheat growers will be the main beneficiaries.” — AGCanada.com Network

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