The national manager of the CFIA Seed Section gives her thoughts on how the seed industry’s efforts at preparing for regulatory modernization in 2021 are proceeding.
Germination: The date for seed regulatory modernization has been rescheduled from 2020 to 2021. Why the change?
Wendy Jahn: In terms of why it moved, when we put something on the CFIA’s Regulatory Plan, it’s an early indication that’s it’s in line to go forward for regulatory amendments. It’s not a guarantee, but rather a signal to industry that it’s time to start working on it. CFIA is responsible for 10 acts and regulations. We can only have so many regulatory amendments moving forward at one time. As you know, CFIA has a very ambitious regulatory change agenda, and as priorities shift and change we do have to sometimes realign things. We moved it back a year due to adjustments in some other priorities. It gives breathing room to both industry and government as well.
Germination: What did you think of the Seed Synergy White Paper?
WJ: Government is really encouraged that the seed industry has stepped forward in such a collaborative way to rethink the structure and function of the current seed regulatory system. I keep saying regulatory modernization is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to take a holistic approach to regulation of the seed system, and we’re very appreciative and recognize that the White Paper is a huge accumulation of work by the Seed Synergy partners to advance their vision.
As government we’re committed to continuous improvement, and that can happen through regulatory modernization, through policy decisions and program design, and as we progress through our initiatives like value creation, plant breeding innovation, and regulatory modernization, it’s great to have these groups come together with one voice. The White Paper identified some direction for seed regulatory modernization in the areas of incorporation by reference and delivery of the seed certification and Single Window systems, so we’re supportive of the initial concepts in the paper and we think it’s an essential step to moving forward towards understanding industry’s views on regulatory reform.
Germination: For you, what’s the biggest challenge but also biggest success you’ve seen come out of our regulatory modernization initiatives so far?
WJ: It’s hard for me not to say one of the biggest challenges is in value creation. I’m hearing from people here in Whistler that it’s one of the biggest topics they want to talk about. But from my perspective as national manager of the seed program, I think it’s really important that we don’t miss this opportunity for regulatory reform as well. I’m pretty pleased that we have a forum to work on this — taking the broad concepts in the White Paper and working on the details through the Seed Sector Value Chain Roundtable. The Roundtable brings together not only industry through our Seed Synergy partners, but also the provinces, producer groups, and the grain trade. It encompasses the entire value chain.
What we’re hoping is to take these broad concepts and use what we call the Seed Regulatory Modernization Working Group, and talk about various aspects and start to work out details. Conceptually, what we’ll do is have our Seed Synergy partners, affected parties like producer groups, and the grain trade — in other words, the entire value chain — and hopefully see them come onboard with regulatory reform and then CFIA will do broad stakeholder consultations. We won’t be going forward with ideas that are CFIA’s alone or just CFIA’s and the seed industry’s. We’ll hopefully have some support from the Roundtable members so when we do go out, producers will know that there has been producer and grain trade input.
Germination: Are you confident we can succeed in this?
WJ: It’s great to see how the Seed Synergy partners have jumped in with both feet and are embracing this. They’re looking at the entire seed system and want to reshape it. In the regulatory modernization space the devil is in the details, but we have a path forward. We have a plan. A lot has been done, but there is still some heavy lifting to do in terms of those details. Am I hopeful this will be successful? Absolutely. The way people have embraced this and taken it to its fullest extent, I can’t imagine we won’t come out on the other side with a system that’s more flexible, transparent, streamlined and less burdensome and in line with the way agriculture and the seed sector are going. I’m confident we’ll take it over the finish line.