The Canadian Seed Growers’ Association is focusing on two new endeavours: strategic planning within the association, and the Seed Synergy project.

The Canadian Seed Growers’ Association has launched a major CSGA strategic planning exercise. Timed to coincide with the first phase of the multi-association Seed Synergy project, this exercise comes at a critical juncture in the evolution of Canada’s seed regulatory system as we move into 2017 and beyond.

CSGA has joined with other seed industry organizations to begin to develop a shared vision for a next generation seed industry and seed regulatory system in Canada. Referred to as the Seed Synergy project, this exercise is in its early stages, but has already served to sharpen the focus of everyone involved. In the case of the CSGA, the strategic planning process has become the sharpening stone.

“When the CFIA indicates that they are contemplating a regulatory program review or modernization initiative, it means that there is a potential for significant change and that we, as a sector, need to be ready with a vision of what that change should look like,” says Glyn Chancey, executive director at the CSGA. “This has provided a catalyst for us to work more closely with our membership, our provincial associations and other seed sector organizations, as well as the broader agriculture community, to develop common positions on the key issues.”

The concertmaster for CSGA’s strategic planning process is the veteran consultant Monty Doyle, a recognized expert in facilitating and managing these types of exercises.

The outreach phase began in earnest at CSGA’s annual Interprovincial Meeting, organized this year by the Alberta Seed Growers Association and held in Banff, Alta., in early November. Scheduled to run through to April 2017, this phase of the strategic planning project will include both face-to-face and online engagement of CSGA membership, and consultation with other seed and agricultural sector stakeholders and government. The project will conclude with the presentation of a new CSGA five-year strategic plan at its July 2017 annual general meeting, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, after which the focus shifts to its implementation.

Building Synergy

Not coincidentally, the CSGA and the Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA) have recently committed to holding their respective annual general meetings in the same location for at least the next three years, beginning in July 2017 in Halifax. This collaboration will facilitate both business and social interaction, and will enable delegates to participate in both programs. This is just one of a growing number of examples where both organizations are actively looking for synergies and where the spirit of the Seed Synergy project is already having a substantive impact.

To draw the member input and engagement needed, the strategic planning project team is now beginning to build the framework for what the plan will look like. Between July and November, the team interviewed dozens of knowledgeable people who understand the seed sector deeply enough to help inform the crafting of an initial framework. This framework was in evidence at the Interprovincial Meeting in Banff and helped facilitate a useful and lively discussion on the future of seed growers and the seed sector, as well as the agriculture industry in general.

If discussions and debate at the Interprovincial Meeting are any indication, the next six months should prove both challenging and informative for CSGA and its members. Our expectations are many: we anticipate that the development of the new strategic plan will help mobilize our members; we expect that what our members tell us will provide impetus to the Seed Synergy project; and we look forward to creating a vision for a next-generation seed system for Canada, which will build a stronger voice for the sector with government. As an organization, we are excited to chart our future course; its impact could be significant.

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