As it implements its new Strategic Plan, the Canadian Seed Growers’ Association is excited to engage the whole industry in forging the future of the seed sector.
For Canadian Seed Growers’ Association (CSGA) executive director Glyn Chancey, the Government of Canada’s decision to support the creation of the CSGA in 1904 laid the foundation for the “industry led, government-enabled seed system” vision underpinning the current Seed Synergy Collaboration Project.
However, it wasn’t until the government endorsement of free trade, and the increased market-driven farm programs and regulatory models in the 1990s, that a clear public policy foundation emerged to validate the way CSGA supported and interacted with the ag sector, he says.
However, while the CFIA delegated the monitoring of seed establishments and related oversight functions to the Canadian Seed Institute (CSI) in 1997, it did little until very recently to encourage and support the development of a more independent industry-led seed system.
Had there been a stronger policy (as opposed to cost reduction) driver and associated vision behind the 1997 CFIA decision to create the CSI, Chancey feels that we would have been much closer to having a unified, industry led seed certification system today.
“The problem was we didn’t update our vision back then for how the seed regulatory system was going to evolve. While CSGA, CFIA and CSI have managed well to sustain and improve the current system, the seed industry has long needed a new vision, new investment and possibly new institutions to support its goals.”
That vision is taking form and discussions on what industry would like a next generation seed regulatory system to look like are ongoing. In this regard, some important conversations took place at the CSGA’s annual meeting in Halifax, N.S., in July, where a broad cross-section of industry stakeholders met to hear a progress report and provide feedback on work to that point.
“As it broadens its basis of support, the Seed Synergy Collaboration project is showing its potential to build consensus across industry and government for a more market-driven and industry-led seed regulatory system” Chancey says.
“In this context, CSGA sees an opportunity to contribute more fully and do so in partnership with others. We’re changing, but in a way that will remind people of the importance of what it is we do.”
While Seed Synergy is a focal point of CSGA’s new strategic plan, there are other major complementary initiatives underway that are designed to move the organization forward and ensure that its members receive the support that they require to succeed in a changing world.
These include three implementation priorities: modernizing the Canadian Regulations and Procedures for Pedigreed Seed Crop Production manual; developing a “single-window” seed certification system; and enhancing educational and professional development support for CSGA members.
“The plan is very ambitious and one that can’t be delivered without the support of CSGA’s industry and government partners,” Chancey says.
Randy Preater, CSGA special adviser, says the new Strategic Plan is tied tightly to the Seed Synergy initiative, which in turn requires the current dialogue and consensus among the partners to continue to develop.
“CSGA is on the leading edge. We’re well positioned. What is happening right now is required to ensure CSGA meets future challenges — but we won’t be doing it alone.”