Tri-State Development Program In Jeopardy

Published online: Dec 16, 2004
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Since Idaho, Washington and Oregon developed the Tri-State Varietal Development program years ago, it has sailed along with hardly a snag. But in today's seed-development climate and the desire by many entities to get new material and patent some of the varieties, problems are popping up.

The group, realizing that some of its own germplasm material has been "bootlegged" with no royalties being realized, is looking at the formation of a marketing association to handle its own developments.

With a great deal of research, line selection, gene incorporation, and grow-outs, it takes a long time and great expense to bring a suitable variety to the industry.

Some members of the Seed Potato Growers Of Idaho are upset that some of the germplasm developed by the group has found its way into Canada and to a major processor with no royalities realized. The group's disatisfaction with the incident ranged from pulling out of the program to setting up a  marketing arm, or to at least find a way to protect its work and financial commitment.

Clen Atchley, Ashton, ID, seed grower, and chairman of  Tri-State, told the Potato Growers of Idaho this week that some of the group's first- and second-generation material is being picking up and "getting away from us."

Atchley said a marketing arm needs to be formed as soon as possible to keep track of this material and collect royalties which the program deserves for its work.

He said the Tri-State program developed the Alturas variety which was lost through Oregon grow-outs and ended up in Canada with McCain Foods. The beneficiaries of the program deserve to be compensated but no fees have been paid.

Atchley said every one of these developments, whether they are immediately picked up or not, need to be licensed and a vehicle put into place to collect royalties. He said the group is now getting requests by private entities to pick up other varieties developed through the program

"We need a way to track it for a return to our program," Atchley stated. Members passed a resolution supporting the idea that the program get more marketing direction and variety protection.