I’ve been in the seed industry for 28 years and involved with the Canadian Seed Trade Association for many of those years. I’ve often joked that one day, when it came my turn to be president of the CSTA, that I hoped to be the last president of the CSTA.
I was half joking, but it’s looking increasingly like I might indeed be one of the last presidents. As we work toward a next-generation seed regulatory system via the Seed Synergy Collaboration Project, we seem to be very close to creating a unified seed industry that speaks with one voice and benefits from being more cohesive and effective.
It’s an exciting time for me to take over as the 67th president of the CSTA. Dan Wright passed the torch to me at our annual meeting in Montreal this past summer, and it was a good setting for the occasion, seeing as members of the Canadian Seed Growers’ Association, Canadian Seed Institute, CropLife Canada, the Canadian Plant Technology Agency and the Commercial Seed Analysts Association of Canada were also in attendance. It truly was a coming together of our entire industry and showed that we’re stronger as a whole than we are as separate entities.
It also gave me a chance to try on the president’s hat and remind myself of the one thing I value above all else — inclusiveness. Our industry is more diverse than ever. Along with that diversity comes responsibility. I think the mark of a good president is having everyone feel they belong. I always strive to ensure that whether you’re new to our industry, or from a different background or a different part of the country, that your voice is heard and feel like you belong.
It’s also crucial that even as our industry sees more consolidation and technology marches forward, that we don’t lose touch with our roots. I’m a farm kid. I grew up in Grandview, Man.
My brother and dad still operate our third-generation family farm. In everything I do, I always remind myself of how it relates back to the family farm, and what my dad and grandfather would have thought about where we’re taking our industry.
I gut-check everything from the perspective of the farmer and how what we do has real impact for people who work every day to feed our country and the world.
At the same time, understanding that agriculture is a business like any other has been crucial for me in my career. Starting out in the private sector at Proven Seed, I spent years of my career working in a top-down management structure of 2,700 employees. After I moved to SeCan, I had to adapt to a very different business model — one that’s smaller and very much bottom-up.
Having worked in both spheres helps me to better understand how different businesses succeed, and what they need from a next-generation regulatory system that we’re working hard to build.
The next several months will be crucial for the seed sector as the Seed Synergy project culminates in a much-anticipated white paper, and I’m excited about and encouraged by what I’ve seen so far. I’m grateful to have you all along for the ride.