ACCC authorises plant breeders' collective bargaining arrangements

11 June 2014

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued a determination that allows royalty managers for plant breeders to collectively negotiate with the grain buyers they engage to collect royalties on their behalf.

The authorisation allows Seedvise, as an agent for royalty managers, to enter into collective negotiations with individual grain buyers.

Under the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act 1994, plant breeders are able to register their grain varieties to protect the intellectual property associated with variety research and development.

Plant breeders typically distribute their varieties to grain farmers on the condition the farmer pays the plant breeder a royalty on each tonne of the varieties the farmer harvests, i.e. an end point royalty (EPR).  Royalty managers are appointed by plant breeders to monitor and collect their EPRs.

Grain buying companies can collect EPRs but are under no obligation to do so and will only participate if royalty managers can provide them with sufficient incentive.

Collective negotiation by Seedvise will allow more grain buyers to participate in EPR collection by streamlining the administration of collecting EPRs for royalty managers.

Seedvise will also be able to offer each grain buyer a collection fee payment that reflects the individual grain buyer’s costs of participation.

“Increased participation by grain buyers will improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the EPR system. It will also reduce costs for royalty managers and farmers by replacing much of the record keeping and invoicing they currently undertake,” ACCC Commissioner Jill Walker said.

The ACCC has granted authorisation until 3 July 2019.

Authorisation provides immunity from court action for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.  Broadly, the ACCC may grant an authorisation when it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any public detriment.

Further information about the application for authorisation and the granting of interim authorisation is available at www.accc.gov.au/AuthorisationsRegister
 

Release number: 
NR 141/14
Media enquiries: 
Media team - 1300 138 917

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