CSGA PLAN AIMS TO MODERNIZE AND UNIFY THE SEED SECTOR
BY IAN DOIG WITH FILES FROM ALEXIS KIENLEN
Central to the Canadian Seed Growers’ Association (CSGA) five-year Strategic Plan 2017-2023 is generating value for farmers in the operation of the nation’s seed regulatory and certification system. The plan was unveiled in July of 2017 following extensive consultations with CSGA membership, directors, staff and industry partners. In addition to outlining the organization’s priorities, it also provides a flexible, strategic framework that can respond to the evolving needs of the sector. “It will be reviewed and updated annually by our board in consultation with members, governments, the seed sector and other stakeholders,” said executive director Glyn Chancey.
Looming issues and big changes form the backdrop to this renewal effort. These include government and consumer demands placed on agriculture, the intersection of new breeding technologies and seed products with international market regulations, as well as the coming modernization of the federal Seeds Regulations in 2019.
With a central theme of modernization and unification of the seed sector, the Strategic Plan’s five central areas include the continued development of a trusted, high-performing seed system, professional development and technical support for members, and encouragement of seed sector growth that includes access to profit-producing varieties. It also aims to increase cultivation of partnerships with government and industry, and to make processes more effective and efficient.
This streamlining impulse and the creation of a single-window model is a central priority, said CSGA president Kevin Runnalls. “It’s high time the seed industry has one place to do business instead of six,” he said. The initiative remains a work in progress as discussion continues on what shape this may take, but Runnalls said he’d like to speed up the process.
Chancey suggested that the streamlining of access to the seed certification and regulatory system will aim to make commercial transactions easier through the use of e-commerce and other tools.
The CSGA is one of six participating organizations in the Seed Synergy Collaboration Project that have joined forces to simplify the web of entities that farmers must interact with in the seed sphere and to plan the next-generation seed system. These organizations include the Canadian Seed Trade Association, the Canadian Seed Institute, the Canadian Plant Technology Agency, the Commercial Seed Analysts Association of Canada and CropLife Canada.
“This project has the potential to start a conversation on what the seed industry of the future needs to look like in order to help the Canadian agriculture sector fulfil its growth potential,” said Chancey.
Another foundational revamp will be carried out on the seed industry’s central document. Circular 6 is the manual of rules and regulations for the production of pedigreed seed crops, and seed growers are keen for an update. “Circular 6 is a paper document that is quite onerous on the seed grower to read and find which category for which crop and which pedigree,” said Runnalls. “We’ve heard loud and clear that we need to modernize it and make it a digital, searchable format.”
Anticipating changes in the seed sector, the CSGA plans to be a key member of the ever-more-integrated, public-private partnership that now exists, as government diminishes its operational role in favour of oversight. “The industry can fill the leadership and resource vacuum, and, in the process, smooth the transition to a regulatory model that better fits the mature, world-class seed industry that Canada is so fortunate to have,” said Chancey.
What’s not changing is the nature of the CSGA’s advocacy work for its diverse membership. “We focus on the broader common good and the performance of the overall system,” said Chancey. “This has worked for us and for Canadian agriculture for over 100 years, and there is no reason to believe that it won’t for the next 100.”