'Variety central' sheds light on royalties

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A website has been set up to give growers more information about end point royalties (EPRs).

An initiative of the EPR steering committee*, the website – Variety Central (varietycentral.com.au) – is an information hub about breeding, commercialisation, varieties and royalties.

The website, outlined to industry at the conference, covers the ‘who, what, when, where, how and why’ of EPRs. It lists the varieties and rates for every 2010 and 2011 EPR crop and provides information on licensing and seed distribution.

Monsanto royalty manager Kate Lang, who has been developing the website as part of the Australian Future Grain Leaders program, told the conference a large portion of the industry was unfamiliar with the EPR system.

The website, she said, was designed to address that by increasing awareness and providing a central platform for reliable and consistent information. “There is an industry focus and a lot of current information there,” she said.

Ms Lang said the most popular page on Variety Central was the 2011 wheat variety list. “It shows the name of the variety, who owns it, what the EPR rate is, how seed is distributed and whether grower-to-grower sales are permitted.”

EPRs were introduced in 1996 for plant breeding companies to recover their investment. Currently there are more than 180 varieties that attract an EPR across a range of crops, including cereals, pulses and brassicas.

In the past five years more than 80 per cent of growers have adopted new varieties and Ms Lang said this demonstrated how important it was to breed for demand. “Growers will pick the variety that is most productive and gives them the best return … adoption governs the returns that plant breeders will get so that’s the incentive for them.”

* The grains industry formed the EPR steering committee in 2007. Comprising representatives from breeding organisations and industry bodies, its goal is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of EPR collection in Australia.

- By Melissa Marino

More information: Variety Central, www.varietycentral.com; www.grdc.com.au/SED00001

GRDC Project Code SED00001

Region National