BOISE — Idaho Wheat Commission and University of Idaho officials have reached an agreement that will result in hundreds of thousands of dollars being put into UI’s wheat variety development program.
The arrangement spells out how much of the wheat seed royalties generated from UI’s public varieties should be put back into the university’s wheat breeding program.
Before the agreement, none of the money was specifically earmarked for the wheat breeding program.
Now, 60 percent will be earmarked for the program and 14 percent will go to the breeder who invented the variety. The rest will go to UI’s Office of Technology Transfer and to the college to distribute as it chooses.
Three of UI’s publicly released wheat varieties — UI Magic, UI Palouse and UI Castle — have generated more than $400,000 in royalties during the past two years.
IWC Executive Director Blaine Jacobson said the agreement will result in a large amount of money going into UI’s wheat breeding program in the next several years.
“We’re certainly into the hundreds of thousands of dollars (in royalties) now,” he said. “But by the time these three varieties run their natural course, it will probably be in the millions of dollars, with a certain percentage of that going back into the breeding program.”
The IWC provides UI with about $1.25 million annually for agricultural research.
The wheat commission will continue to provide grants to individual wheat researchers and the royalty money will be infused into the broad aspects of the overall wheat variety development program, Michael Parrella, dean of UI’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, told Capital Press.
“All of the researchers that are involved in wheat development will benefit from the royalties,” he said. “I think it’s going to solidify our wheat development program and bring us even closer to the Idaho Wheat Commission as partners going forward.”
The university and IWC had been negotiating the issue since last November and commission board members took a firm stand in June, telling university officials they expected it to be resolved sooner rather than later.
IWC board member Bill Flory, a North Idaho farmer, told Capital Press that growers helped pay for the development of those public varieties through their wheat checkoff dollars, a good chunk of which go to UI’s wheat breeding program.
There is no justification for most of the money generated by the royalties from those varieties not going back into the program, he said.
Flory, who came close during the commission’s June meeting to making a motion to stop IWC wheat research funding to UI until the issue was resolved, applauded the university for its ultimate response.
“The university responded to growers on this issue very well,” he said. “It was a methodical response and it was an appropriate one.”
Royalties from UI’s public wheat varieties weren’t an issue until recently because there traditionally have been no royalties associated with them. However, they are now in play because of a public-private partnership between the IWC, UI and Limagrain Cereal Seeds that was reached in 2012.