To the editor:
Like many of you reading this, I have been involved in farming for many years and have seen agricultural industry undergo some pretty dramatic changes in virtually all areas during that time. One part of this change is the development of new seed varieties. This growth has allowed farmers to produce crops that are more tolerant to disease and weather issues and generate higher yields. Our land produces much more today than just a couple of decades ago. In order for these incredible advancements to take place, however, a lot of money and time has been dedicated to the research of crops that can help farmers increase productivity.
The wheat industry is no exception. The Kansas Wheat Alliance (KWA) along with Kansas State University, works hard to promote the development of new genetics for wheat varieties best suited for the needs of the Kansas wheat farmer. In order for this to happen, a small portion of the purchase price is collected and is put back into more research. KWA and KSU are non-profits who collect only the bare amount necessary to sustain ongoing research for future varieties. Their rights in the new varieties are protected under a federal law known as the Plant Variety Protection Act. They are not alone; nearly all wheat varieties in the marketplace today are protected under federal law, which allows researchers to recoup a portion of their investment in their popular varieties.
With this thought in mind, it is important that we, as wheat producers, understand that by selling seed wheat outside the certified legal seed system, deprives researchers of money needed to develop new varieties to help withstand disease and climate issues, while at the same time, helping to maximize yield potential. Please remember that selling seed wheat, unless properly authorized, is not only against the law, but it also is damaging our entire wheat industry.
With wheat planting season upon us here in Kansas, I urge everyone to buy and plant legal and certified seed. In doing so, you are supporting both our local certified seed dealers and the larger Kansas wheat industry.
The statement from Jeff Koch was previously submitted as an editorial to his local newspaper, the Senica Courier Tribune, and he authorized the Kansas Wheat Alliance to circulate it to other outlets for publication. The KWA adds:
KWA is a not-for-profit organization that is licensed by Kansas State University Research Foundation (KSURF) to commercialize wheat varieties developed by Kansas State University. As such, it is KWA’s responsibility to protect the intellectual property associated with these wheat varieties and enforce the owner’s rights granted under the US Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Act.
In a recent case involving the infringement of these PVP rights by Jeff Koch, Seneca, Kansas, Mr. Koch stated that he was unaware of PVP and he subsequently made an effort to learn more about it. Being an educator as well as a farmer, he was compelled to prepare a statement regarding the benefits of PVP and the use of Certified seed so that others might be aware of this law and how it is working to encourage investment in improved plant genetics and advance production agriculture.
Believing in Mr. Koch’s lack of prior knowledge of PVP and to support his desire to inform others, KWA chose to not seek any litigation or monetary settlement for his admitted infringement. Rather, KWA has chosen to share this statement prepared by Mr. Koch with the media in the hopes that other farmers will follow his example.