Enforcement of the Plant Variety Protection Act (PVPA) in small grains has gained a lot of attention the last couple of years. Numerous individuals, including sellers, seed conditioners and buyers, in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and other states have been prosecuted for not abiding by the PVPA.

A considerable amount of confusion exists about the PVPA and its implications on Small Grain producers in Texas. A clear understanding of the PVPA, Title and utility patents and their implications is essential for everyone involved in the purchasing, conditioning, or selling seed.

The following should shed some light on the issue.

Plant Variety Protection Act (PVPA) - enacted December 1970 provides legal intellectual property rights protection to developers of new varieties of plants that are sexually reproduced (by seed). The 1970 PVPA provides the Plant Breeders with property rights over new variety releases. Farmers may save seed to plant their own holdings (land owned, rented, or leased) or sell that amount of seed to a neighbor, if plans for that seed change. All seed sales must comply with state laws, including Title V.

1994 Amended PVPA - an amendment to the Plant Variety Protection Act of 1970. The 1994 PVPA prohibits the sale of all farmer-saved seed without the permission of the variety owner.

The length of protection under the PVPA act increased to 20 years for most crops, including wheat and oats. It applies to all varieties protected after April 4, 1995.

Variety protection under the PVPA expires 20 years after protection has been granted. All varieties protected under the PVPA (1970 and 1994) can be found at the following Web page (http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/pvplist.pl).