Mike Shewchuk
Vice-President, Saskatchewan Seed Growers Association

Communication. We talk a lot about it in this industry. I recently took over as vice-president of the Saskatchewan Seed Growers Association, and prior to that led the SSGA’s publicity committee.

Bolstering communication efforts was a huge part of discussions during my time on the committee and a major goal of mine as VP. As the Seed Synergy and value creation concepts are now taking form, I believe now more than ever that provincial seed associations must play an advocacy roll for their members. This is certainly true within SSGA.

Our board represents the critical grassroots segment of the seed system, a segment in which I believe is at a communications disadvantage compared to the rest of the industry.

Through Seed Synergy talks, CSGA’s provincial seed associations have been at the table, along with other industry groups. Right now, CSGA has a membership of 3,500 seed growers, compared to maybe 150 corporate/business partners who belong to other organization that make up our industry.

Problem is, at any given annual seed grower meeting, a grower member attendance of maybe 10 per cent can be expected.

Compare that to the majority of industry association meetings, where a much larger representative audience would generally be in attendance. It’s concerning that we take a considerable amount of our board direction from a modest 10 per cent of members which generally attend annual meetings.

Going forward, I believe greater member involvement is key to moving forward. Communication between our board and growers, communication between our respective boards, and communication between growers and industry.

Failure to communicate is something that affects growers everywhere and is likely the most common mistake I have seen on the farm. It leads to bad decision making and breeds mistrust. When that lack of communication spreads to the wider organizational level, it can result in members feeling like they don’t have a voice.

That said, members who do attend our meetings provide very high-quality input and their opinions are always respected and valued. I believe the seed industry is a place where both industry and growers must work together to accomplish common goals, and to better Canadian agriculture as a whole.

The discussions going on at the moment in regard to regulatory change are a perfect example of how members can influence the direction that our provincial association goes in. A resolution was passed at our recent annual meeting to support the proposed the Seed Variety Use Agreement, or trailing royalty, proposals.

Prior to going into our AGM our board applied a great amount of thought toward a value capture position. Before taking a position, we decided we needed to hear from our members. Several resolutions were drafted in our board meeting prior to the AGM as a means to provoke discussion and provide direction for our board. The resolution to support an SVUA passed, but it was clear there was concern among growers about the idea.

For us as a board, our goal was accomplished to get the membership to debate it, ask questions, and bring concerns forward, not only during the panel discussion, but also in a members-only session prior to which resolutions were voted on. The resolution itself will not be the only piece from which our direction comes, but also from member input.

In other words, our board needs member input, and as discussions continue around value creation, Seed Synergy and regulatory modernization, we need more of it. Want to get involved? Visit seedgrowers.ca/contact-us/csga-provincial-branches to contact a provincial branch of the Canadian Seed Growers’ Association and learn how you can get more involved in crafting the future of your industry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>