It’s an exciting time to be in the seed sector. Our industry is well positioned to continue to create jobs and drive the economy while producing safe, quality and innovative varieties for Canadian farmers. The legislative changes to Plant Breeders’ Rights have placed the seed sector solidly on the world stage with the door open for international and domestic collaboration and innovation.

With opportunities, however, come challenges. The election of a new federal government brought new priorities, new players and a very urban outlook to the Ottawa political scene. At the provincial level, we are continuing to see additional regulations that impact the agriculture industry be introduced and a move away from national regulations to a patchwork of “made in province solutions.”

Telling Seed’s Story

The seed industry has a good story to tell; however, reaching those in office who can help the industry succeed can be complicated. Building and enhancing relationships with both bureaucrats and politicians is essential to the continued success of the industry. CSTA is a non-partisan organization, which helps us build trust across parties and with all levels of government. Our messages to governments communicate CSTA’s values of innovation, sustainability and environmental stewardship, support of science-based decision-making as the basis for policy and regulation, and encourage policymakers to view CSTA as the “go-to” resource for seed.

The board of directors has been looking ahead five, 10, and even 15 years from now. Annually, as part of strategic planning, scanning exercises try to anticipate political changes that could affect the industry. In 2016, increasing CSTA’s reach with politicians at all levels was identified as a top priority and increased activity and resources have been focused on achieving this goal.

Dave Carey, director of government affairs and policy, leads CSTA’s political outreach activities. A number of efforts are currently underway, on priorities including the open trade of seed, seed treatments, a sufficient supply of labour resources, and a modern regulatory system. CSTA is frequently invited to appear before committees of the House of Commons and the Senate. In October, Todd Hyra, second vice-president, and Carey provided comments on the Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture and Forestry’s report, Importance of Bee Health to Sustainable Food Production in Canada, and gave updates on CSTA’s initiatives around bee health. CSTA’s testimony is available at www.parl.gc.ca/content/sen/committee/421/AGFO/16EV-52782-E.HTM.

CSTA’s sixth Lobby Day will take place Feb. 7, 2017, when the House returns from the winter break. The Lobby Day provides an opportunity for the board of directors to bring CSTA’s messages to Members of Parliament, senators, committee chairs, critics and senior bureaucrats through face-to-face meetings on the Hill. We will keep members updated on Lobby Day 2017 through Trade Winds, CSTA’s member newsletter.

 “All Politics are Local” 

CSTA’s member companies are the best seed industry advocates that we have. Meeting and informing local parliamentarians in their home ridings about the importance of the seed industry and providing a resource should they have any questions about seed or agriculture will go a long way toward building a better understanding of the sector. Mark your calendars for Jan. 31, 2017, at 2 p.m. EST for the first Government Affairs Webinar of the year on the theme “All Politics Are Local.” This webinar will provide CSTA members with the tools and knowledge needed to engage with local federal and provincial policymakers. Be sure to come prepared with your questions.

Contact Dave Carey at the CSTA office regarding any specific points you would like covered and to register for the webinar by emailing dcarey@cdnseed.org.

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