I’ve always thought of the Canadian seed sector in terms of a roadmap. Through sheer geography alone, Canada’s seed-growing sector is massive, stretching from the western end of the continent all the way to the East. That’s over 6,500 kilometres.
Within that distance there is large variation in the average farm size and the kinds of crops grown, of course. But seed growers have more in common than they do differences. Case in point: our seed certification system is the same from one end of Canada to the other.
This is a tremendous asset that we should all feel fortunate for. Earlier this year, I was at my first meeting of the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA) in the United States. South of the border, most every state has its own seed certification body. This results in a patchwork of different agencies and regulations that mean seed growers in one state often do things different from seed growers in another.
We’re fortunate that over 100 years ago here in Canada, seed growers had the foresight to understand the need for a national seed certification agency. Seed growers benefit hugely from this. It’s makes business easier and more profitable for everyone involved.
As the president of the CSGA (an honour bestowed upon me at our annual meeting in Montreal this past summer), I look forward to helping build upon what Canadian seed growers and my predecessors have accomplished. I’m excited to help members strengthen their connection with other stakeholders and in the value chain as we explore what a next-generation seed industry could look like through the Seed Synergy Collaboration Project.
Seed Synergy, along with the CSGA’s own Strategic Plan, serve as another “roadmap” that helps us to envision where we need to go as seed growers. Throughout both the Strategic Plan and Seed Synergy processes, feedback from CSGA’s seven provincial associations has been consistent — members are looking for concrete direction and action.
Much of our thinking in developing our Strategic Plan — and in taking part in Seed Synergy — is based on the knowledge that we need to be ready for 2020. The indication we’re getting from the federal government is that they want to open up the Seeds Act for changes by then. We need to have all our ducks in a row so that we can ensure the changes made to federal legislation put Canada’s seed growers in the best position possible.
In order to be ready, we have to shift our focus from the needs of our six seed industry organizations individually to the needs of our members and the sector as a whole. We’ve had engagement sessions with our members at the provincial level and they tell us that this is what we need to do to ensure we thrive. Getting 3,500 members onside in any given situation is an extremely difficult task, to say the least — but it’s happening. Seed growers understand that keeping the status quo is not an option. It never has been during the 114 years CSGA has existed.
I look forward to the next two years as president and am always happy to talk with anyone about how we can continue to make our industry better. Just email me at email@example.com.