Two years ago, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz came to Lethbridge to announce the country’s first 4P cereal-breeding partnership. From left: Ritz, Lethbridge MP Jim Hillyer, Alberta Wheat Commission chair Kent Erickson, wheat breeder Harpinder Randhawa and Canterra Seeds CEO David Hansen.

For the agriculture sector to be successful and competitive on an international level, we have to work together for our mutual benefit. Partnerships between private companies and seed growers/farmers are crucial, now more than ever.

This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s good to have a refresher as to why these relationships are important. They should be top-of-mind for any seed company that wants to be at the top of its game.

Almost two years ago, we partnered with the Alberta Wheat Commission and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada on a “P4” public/private/producer partnership model to support Canadian Prairie Spring Red wheat variety development.

We’re still early in this process, but the willingness of all parties to work together on this project is very encouraging. It shows how public and private breeding efforts can work in unison in the wake of the passage of Bill C-18 and the implementation of UPOV 91 back in 2015.

There are other models in the market as well, like our partnership with France’s farmer‐owned cooperative, Limagrain, called Limagrain Cereals Research Canada (LCRC). LCRC will develop new varieties of cereals, with a specific focus on wheat.

The benefits of these close relationships are many.

First, seed companies get the benefit of seeing how varieties perform up-close. Seed growers typically increase seed for up to three years before certified seed is sold commercially, and during this time, we work with them to get a better understanding of product performance under “real” conditions. This allows us to set reasonable expectations on product performance with commercial customers.

Second, you gain valuable resources. If you think about every seed grower or farmer as a well-respected industry equal, you will quickly find that you have a lot in common and a partner in business for years to come.

You have to keep in mind that developing these friendships doesn’t happen overnight. It’s an investment if your time. Having the right attitude is always important, but ensuring you treat everyone with respect is absolutely imperative.

Relationships in any business are important, but there’s something about working in agriculture, and with seed growers and farmers in particular, that is particularly special.

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