Workshop On Ag Competition Held

The American Soybean Association (ASA) participated in a panel discussion last week on the competitive dynamics of the seed industry during a public workshop exploring competitive issues in agriculture hosted by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and USDA. The panel explored the competitive implications for farmers of significant shifts in the seed industry during the past 20 years in terms of seed price, choice, patents and licensing, and innovation at a workshop held at the Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny, IA.

For soybeans, corn, cotton, and canola, farmers overwhelmingly have moved from using conventional seed varieties to seed with biotech-enhanced traits that help farmers better manage weeds and pests that reduce yields. Additionally, biotech-enhanced traits that improve the nutrition of crops or provide other consumer benefits are being introduced. Trait research and development increasingly has moved from numerous and diverse entities such as universities and independent seed companies toward major agriculture biotechnology firms that sell seed through their own brands or enter into license agreements with other seed companies. Patents covering the first commercially valuable agriculture biotechnology traits will expire in the coming years, raising questions about how the marketplace will handle the approaching transition to seed containing generic versions of those traits.

“Technology and continued innovation in the seed industry are vital to the future survival of farming as a viable career and to allowing farmers to feed a hungry world,” says ASA vice president Ray Gaesser, a soybean producer from Corning, IA, and a director and past president of the Iowa Soybean Association. “ASA believes that intellectual property protection and rewarding innovation is critical to maintaining the growth and development of the soybean industry. Over 25 different biotech or new novel traits for soybeans are in the pipeline to be commercialized over the next decade due to strong intellectual property protection and adequate returns on investment to innovators.”

“While supporting innovation, ASA also supports competition in all sectors of U.S. agriculture in order to enhance efficiency and reduce costs to soybean producers,” Gaesser says. “As we have examined issues around seed industry innovation and competition, there is uncertainty in the marketplace surrounding the process to ensure that foreign registrations for biotech traits are maintained once they go off-patent and become generic, uncertainty on access to data packages for stacks containing patented traits, and uncertainty on the terms of licensing agreements and potential restrictions contained within those agreements. This uncertainty needs to be solved, or else soybean farmers fear that both innovation and competition may suffer.”

ASA has expressed concerns arising from the approaching expiration of the first patents for agriculture biotechnology traits and the potential negative impact on soybean and soybean product exports in the event that foreign registrations of biotech traits are not maintained in countries that require them. Additionally, ASA has stated that it desires generic competition to flourish and seed prices to farmers to decline once the patents on patented traits expire.

“The first commercial soybean trait patent to expire will be for Roundup Ready Soybeans (RR1) in 2014, and patents on other soybean biotech traits will be expiring thereafter,” Gaesser says. “No industry, statutory or regulatory process currently is in place to facilitate the continued registration of ag biotech traits in key export markets after patent expiration. ASA favors an equitable industry-led approach to maintaining the registration of generic traits, or a statutory or regulatory approach if an equitable industry-led approach cannot be agreed upon. Such a process is essential in maintaining market access and competition as long as traces of a trait are identified in export shipments.”

There are multiple implications of patent expiration for international trade, including uncertainty about the process to maintain registrations in foreign markets. Soybean producers have learned that once an ag biotech trait is commercialized, it will be detectable for many years after registration is discontinued. Additionally, seed companies and plant breeders interested in offering generic versions of a trait after patent expiration need to know the process and cost of maintaining foreign registrations if they are to dedicate the time, money, and germplasm necessary to bring high-yielding seed varieties to the marketplace.

“ASA also supports enabling trait providers and seed companies to access and use, through agreements or other procedures that provide fair compensation, the data packages of a patented biotech trait for the purpose of preparing to register and commercialize seeds containing “stacks” of new biotech traits along with traits already commercialized,” Gaesser says. “ASA again supports and prefers a private sector approach to facilitate and govern this process. However, if an industry-led approach cannot be agreed upon, then a Federal government approach may be necessary to ensure that both innovation and competition are facilitated.”

“Finally, while license agreements are a common business practice and licensing in the seed industry has made new traits broadly available throughout the seed industry to farmers, it must be ensured that provisions in license agreements do not inhibit competition and continued innovation,” Gaesser concludes. “We need to support innovation, patent rights, and returns on investment, while allowing competition in both generic traits and new traits to thrive. Farmers and all of society benefit when we achieve this balance.”

At the request of the DOJ and USDA, ASA submitted comments in December 2009 expressing specific interest in competition in the seed, rail and fertilizer industries.

Four additional ag competitiveness workshops are scheduled during 2010 to discuss topics within the poultry, dairy, and livestock industries, and to look at discrepancies between the prices received by farmers and the prices paid by consumers.

To learn more about the pipeline of biotech events and novel trait releases, click here.

ASA represents all U.S. soybean farmers on domestic and international issues of importance to the soybean industry. ASA’s advocacy efforts are made possible through the voluntary membership in ASA by over 22,500 farmers in 31 states where soybeans are grown.

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
Retail FacilitiesBuilding Up Ag Retail
July 1, 2015
In the oftentimes unpredictable world we live in, it’s nice to know some things can be reliably countered on to Read More
Crop InputsIndiana NRCS Unveils Interim Gypsum Practice Standard
June 22, 2015
Indiana farmers wishing to use gypsum to improve soil quality as part of on-farm conservation programs now have access to Read More
Raven Viper 4
Precision AgPrecision Agriculture: In-Cab Computing Adds More Customization, Functionality
June 3, 2015
In terms of in-cab computing solutions for the agriculture market, companies like Case IH, Topcon, Trimble, John Deere and Raven Read More
Retailers
Precision AgThe Human Element Of Precision Agriculture
June 1, 2015
Editor’s note: The 17th Precision Agriculture Survey was completed with partnerships among the departments of Agricultural Economics and Agronomy at Read More
Top 100 Articles
Milan Kucerak, president/CEO, West Central
CropLife 100West Central Cooperative And Its New President Are A Match Made In Deviation
June 29, 2015
To appreciate just how unique West Central Cooperative is in the world of ag retail, an observer need only consider Read More
Winter Wheat
CropLife 100South Dakota Co-op Member Owners Vote No On Unification
June 26, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have announced that member-owners have voted Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manufacturer Kay-Flo
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
CropLife 100AgGateway’s Barcoding Initiative Progressing Nicely
May 8, 2015
According to legend (or Wikipedia), the first step towards modern bar codes came back in 1948, when Bernard Silver, a Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
Latest News
Measuring Bulk Tanks
ManagementBulk Pesticide Compliance: Top 10 Areas Of Improvement …
July 1, 2015
  In honor of the 33-year run of David Letterman’s Late Show, the American Agronomic Stewardship Alliance (AASA) is happy Read More
Industry NewsArysta North America Hires Midwest Sales Manager
July 1, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the hiring of Brian Battles as the Senior Technical Sales Manager for the Midwest Read More
Farmer on tablet
Eric SfiligojThe Never-Ending Battle Against Modern Agriculture
July 1, 2015
In the world of comic books, the character of Superman often refers to the fight to save the world as Read More
Retail FacilitiesBuilding Up Ag Retail
July 1, 2015
In the oftentimes unpredictable world we live in, it’s nice to know some things can be reliably countered on to Read More
Retail FacilitiesMaple River Grain And Agronomy Phases In Site Developme…
July 1, 2015
Marcus Construction helped Maple River Grain and Agronomy in Casselton, ND, with the design-build of its dry fertilizer, liquid chemical/seed Read More
Retail FacilitiesA&B Welding Builds A New Liquid Terminal Hub For Br…
July 1, 2015
To build its new hub facility, Briggs Crop Nutrients enlisted the help of A&B Welding. The result, an efficient facility Read More
Edon Farmers Co-op
Retail FacilitiesNew Marcus Facility At Edon Farmers Co-op Provides More…
July 1, 2015
Edon Farmers Co-Op in Edon, OH, needed a new facility to consolidate outdated locations. Marcus Construction was able to design Read More
Retail FacilitiesKinder Morgan Expands Its Storage With A New Dome Barre…
July 1, 2015
Kinder Morgan wanted additional covered storage at its Dakota Bulk Terminal on the Mississippi River in St. Paul, MN. With Read More
Retail FacilitiesHeartland Tank Protects Fertilizer From Extreme Cold At…
July 1, 2015
The Arthur Companies in Harvey, ND, enlisted the help of Heartland Tank Companies to develop a new liquid fertilizer facility Read More
The McGregor Co. fertilizer loadout
Retail FacilitiesThe McGregor Co. Partners With Kahler Automation To Cre…
June 30, 2015
Kahler Automation helped The McGregor Co. expand its Clarkston, WA, operation with unstaffed loadout technology that enables customers to pick Read More
Dry and Liquid Plant
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Helps CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative Build…
June 30, 2015
CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative in Mooreton, ND, wanted a liquid/dry blender system that could meet the needs of its customers Read More
Crop InputsLand O’Lakes, United Suppliers To Merge Crop Inpu…
June 29, 2015
Land O’Lakes, Inc. and United Suppliers, Inc. of Ames, IA, today announced their intent to merge their crop inputs businesses. Read More
FungicidesHelena To Distribute Unique Summit Agro Fungicide
June 29, 2015
RANMAN 400 SC fungicide, the only fungicide with a FRAC group 21 designation, is now part of the innovative Summit Read More
Eric SfiligojIARC Targets 2,4-D In Latest Report
June 29, 2015
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has struck again. Earlier this year in March, this agency of the Read More
Milan Kucerak, president/CEO, West Central
CropLife 100West Central Cooperative And Its New President Are A Ma…
June 29, 2015
To appreciate just how unique West Central Cooperative is in the world of ag retail, an observer need only consider Read More
EquipmentCase IH Launches New Precision Air 5 Series Carts
June 29, 2015
Case IH recently introduced its new Precision Air 5 series air carts, developed to get the most from every plant’s Read More
InsecticidesVestaron Biopesticide Approved In California
June 29, 2015
Vestaron Corporation, a developer of insect control products derived from naturally occurring peptides, today announced that its VST-006330-EP biopesticide has received Read More
InsecticidesValent’s Zeal SC Miticide Receives EPA Approval
June 29, 2015
Valent U.S.A. Corporation announced today that Zeal SC Miticide has been registered by EPA with a new liquid formulation that Read More