Farmers need to make known their views on access to plants, writes Federated Farmers policy advisor Philippa Rawlinson.
Future access to plants and other key issues are in open discussion.
The first phase of public consultation is now complete on the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment's (MBIE) review of the issues surrounding the Plant Variety Rights Act 1987 (PVRA).
The review of the PVRA and likely amendments is required to comply with New Zealand's requirements to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
To meet the requirements of CPTPP New Zealand's domestic PVRA legislation needs to be amended to either ratify the latest International Convention on the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) 1991 agreement or give effect to it.
The issues paper sought feedback on several issues including provisions relating to farm saved seed, extension of rights over harvested material, changes to compulsory licensing provisions and a strengthening of enforcement provisions.
Federated Farmers did not support any requirement to gain permission from Plant Variety Rights owners or licensees to use farm saved seed from protected varieties. If any royalty payment is required on farm saved seed, Federated Farmers would only support it if it was applied per kilogram of named cultivars sown by farmers.
The issues paper discussed the requirement of the plant breeding industry to continue the current flexibility in the system by maintaining seed point and end point royalties. Federated Farmers does not support end point royalties as we have concerns about "double dipping".
Federated Farmers does not support any extension of breeders rights over harvested material. Any extension of plant breeders rights would remove the autonomy of farmers to make decisions about the end use of harvested material which will benefit their businesses the most. It is our view that extending the rights of plant breeders over harvested material would introduce a totally unnecessary element of control.
Federated Farmers did support the retention of compulsory licensing provisions with some education to end users about the possibility of their use.
Submissions on MBIE's first phase of consultation closed on December 21. MBIE have indicated the next step in the process will be the development of an issues paper which will provide the public with the opportunity to provide feedback. Federated Farmers encourages people to make their views known.