Texas A&M AgriLife Foundation Seed (TAFS), located near Vernon, Texas, is a non-profit, stand-alone unit of Texas A&M AgriLife Research that services most of the plant material improvement efforts of Texas A&M AgriLife statewide. Operations of TAFS are intended to be self-supporting by generating revenue through sales and services much as a commercial business would.
TAFS is an essential link between the public plant breeder and the licensee farmer or company. The original mission of TAFS was to produce and market genetically pure seed of new cultivars developed by the scientists of Texas A&M AgriLife. Although the name implies that TFSS works only with seed, it is involved with production and distribution of vegetatively propagated plant materials too. TAFS works as a liaison between the various plant breeding programs of AgriLife and those companies that have an interest in licensing and marketing these plant material improvements. As a part of our duties, we handle business aspects of research commercialization in an effort to allow scientists to concentrate on their respective research projects.
TAFS handles revenues from seed sales and non-licensed products. All funds generated by the sale of foundation seed are used to support the effort of providing quality seed of new, high yielding, better-adapted crop varieties to the agricultural industry.
TAFS is the sales and marketing vehicle for the three USDA Plant Materials Centers (PMC) located in Texas and has a seat on the USDA PMC Advisory Committee (Texas).
Another service provided by TAFS is production and/or seed conditioning services to public and private breeding programs. Additional services include longer term investment (funding) in AgriLife plant breeding programs specifically for production of breeder seed in programs that have commercial potential but lack adequate funding for these small and very expensive production blocks.
In today’s role, TAFS works closely not only with the various plant improvement programs, but also with many other AgriLife and TAMUS components. TAFS works with the Contracts and Grants office on sponsored research agreements, Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs), and production contracts. With the Corporate Relations Office, TAFS works with corporate entities to develop public/private partnerships that lead to sponsored research agreements. Interaction with the TAMUS Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) is on a very frequent basis. TAFS markets many of the plant material improvements to prospective licensees, assists OTC with licensing terms and drafting both non-commercial (evaluation) license agreements and commercial license agreements, manages executed license agreements and monitors agreements for compliance and infringement issues, and collection of fees and royalties for OTC on licensed plant materials. TAFS also provides royalty collection services for several other land grant institutions that market plant materials into the Texas and SW US markets.
TAFS, as a representative for Texas A&M AgriLife, is very active in state, regional, and national organizations such as the Texas Seed Trade Association, Turfgrass Producers of Texas, Association of Official Seed Certification Agencies (AOSCA) and the seed certification agencies located in every state where AgriLife licensed products are grown. TAFS is also actively involved as a resource for many of our commodity board stakeholders as well as Texas AgriLife internal committees such as the Intellectual Property Management and Commercialization Team, Small Grains Advisory Committee, and Plant Review Committee.
We will continue to see change in the way agribusiness is conducted and in the speed of technological improvements. TAFS is fortunate to be a part of the AgriLife team that has led some of the changes and in many cases is looked to as an operating model for other universities and public institutions as they move from more traditional funding mechanisms to the development of public/private partnerships and public institution licensing of most or all plant material improvements.