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

Eric SfiligojYuma Centennial Ag Supply Earns 2014 National Environmental Respect Award Honors
July 28, 2014
Colorado-based ag retailer receives top trophy in 24th annual DuPont Crop Protection/CropLife ceremony. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis To Relocate Agribusiness Division To Denver
July 16, 2014
The move Eastward will allow Wilbur-Ellis’ Agribusiness Division to be more accessible to relevant geographies and is expected to enhance communication and collaboration among the division’s nearly 3,000 employees. Read More
Soybean field
FungicidesValent Launches New Seed Protection Fungicide For Soybeans
July 16, 2014
The INTEGO SUITE System contains the first new, novel seed protection fungicide chemistry registered in 30 years by the EPA for protection against Pythium and Phytophthora. Read More
LegislationUSDA: Quick Implementation Of Disaster Assistance Programs A ‘Top Priority’
July 9, 2014
USDA has processed 106,000 payments to farmers in 40 states across the country who suffered livestock and grazing losses between Oct. 2011 and passage of the 2014 Farm Bill. Read More

Trending Articles

Green Valley Ag facility
Retail FacilitiesGreen Valley Ag Adopts A.J. Sackett’s Precision Fertilizer Blending® Technology At New Facility
July 8, 2014
Sackett's Precision Fertilizer Blending® Technology is making huge strides around the world. Green Valley Ag adopts the technology at its new facility to support its advancing agronomic needs. Read More
Retail FacilitiesWaconia Manufacturing Builds Facility Designed For Speed, Efficiency
July 7, 2014
To make its new hub facility more efficient, Cooperative Elevator enlisted the aid of Waconia Manufacturing. Read More
EquipmentSummer Show Preview 2014: Superior Sprayers Take The Field
July 3, 2014
In this final installment of our coverage of the major categories of Big IRON that retailers can expect to test-drive at this summer’s events, here is a look at 19 sprayers. Read More
Scouting a soybean patch at Green Valley Ag.
EmployeesCropLife Compensation Survey: Battling Talent Drain
July 2, 2014
Retailers too often lose employees to companies outside of agriculture, while recruiting efforts are most often limited to competitors and other ag-focused organizations. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Introduces SureStart II Herbicide
June 16, 2014
The enhanced formulation has improved viscosity and increased stability under heat and controls more than 60 high-anxiety grasses and broadleaf weeds found in corn fields. Read More
HerbicidesBASF Investing $270 Million To Expand U.S. Herbicide Production
June 11, 2014
BASF has invested more than $270 million to expand herbicide production capacities in the U.S., including more than 20 new products to be launched over next two years. Read More

Latest News

StewardshipMonsanto Joins Panel Of Innovators To Advance Research …
July 30, 2014
Monsanto Co. and The Climate Corp., its division, recently joined a roundtable of experts at the White House to share ideas and research approaches to help the world’s farmers manage and adapt to the impact of climate change on the global food supply. Read More
Crop InputsSoybean Checkoff Produces Big ROI
July 30, 2014
Under the soy checkoff program, all U.S. soybean farmers contribute a small percentage of their gross soybean sales for research and marketing projects that maximize their profit potential. Read More
CropLife 100Learfield Sports, CHS Agree To Football-Centric, Colleg…
July 30, 2014
CHS Inc. will embark on a highly integrated collegiate sports sponsorship platform with 24 Division I universities in 19 states designed to reach the farmer-owned cooperative's rural owners and customers. Read More
LegislationUSDA Implements Key Farm Bill Crop Insurance Provision
July 30, 2014
The new Supplemental Coverage Option, available through the federal crop insurance program and set to begin with the 2015 crop year, is designed to help protect producers from yield and market volatility. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Forms New Organizational Structure For Its…
July 30, 2014
The new structure will provide more responsive internal support and will allow regional vice presidents and area managers to spend more time with customers, on talent development and on operational excellence across branches. Read More
Palmer pigweed in cotton
HerbicidesNew Training Modules On Herbicide Resistance Now Availa…
July 30, 2014
The Weed Science Society of America has announced the availability of three new education modules on herbicide resistance in weeds. Read More
HerbicidesWillowood To Market Glufosinate
July 28, 2014
Willowood USA recently announced that Federal EPA has approved its technical registration for glufosinate. Read More
InsecticidesHow To Scout For Corn Earworms In Corn
July 28, 2014
In her weekly report, University of Missouri Agronomy Specialist Jill Scheidt discusses what to look for when scouting for corn earworm. Read More
Crop InputsDuPont Pioneer, Weyerhaeuser Enter Technology License A…
July 28, 2014
The agreement brings together agricultural and forestry know-how to sustainably improve crop productivity for corn growers around the world. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Launches Global iPad App
July 28, 2014
The free AGCO Global iPad App can be downloaded from the Apple iTunes Store and features the full family of RoGator self-propelled sprayers and TerraGator high-floatation spreaders. Read More
Eric SfiligojYuma Centennial Ag Supply Earns 2014 National Environme…
July 28, 2014
Colorado-based ag retailer receives top trophy in 24th annual DuPont Crop Protection/CropLife ceremony. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Forms Alliance With Wildlife Managment, Seed O…
July 25, 2014
The strategic alliance will provide Tecomate with key wildlife products, processing facilities, distribution centers and sales through Pinnacle’s ever-growing retail network. Read More
ManagementFranken Presses White House On RFS Support
July 25, 2014
Al Franken and a group of Senate democrats recently met with senior White House official John Podesta to urge the administration to change its position on an EPA proposal. Read More
ManagementASA, FarmLink To Launch ‘Operation Benchmark̵…
July 25, 2014
The American Soybean Association (ASA) and FarmLink are teaming up to help farmers close the $11 billion gap between what they harvested in 2013 and what they could harvest annually. Read More
StewardshipNorthey: Farmers Commit $1.4 Million to Try New Water Q…
July 25, 2014
The practices that are eligible for funding include cover crops, no-till or strip till and using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer. Read More
Precision AgFarmers Learn How Changing World Will Impact Iowa
July 24, 2014
Technology and understanding global consumer demand for Iowa farm products brought hundreds of farmers and agribusiness leaders to Ames recently for the annual Iowa Farm Bureau Federation Economic Summit. Read More
HerbicidesPurdue: Late Season Weeds May Require Manual Removal
July 24, 2014
Hand-rouging and pulling late season weeds by hand may be the best way to remove them, more so than using a herbicide, a Purdue Extension weed scientist says. Read More
Soybean Field
InsecticidesTransform WG, Closer SC Insecticides Receive R&D 10…
July 23, 2014
Dow AgroSciences has received the award from R&D Magazine for Transform WG insecticide and Closer SC insecticide with Isoclast active. Read More