Seed World

What I Learned as CSTA President

Having just completed my one-year term as president of the Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA), I have just finished what I consider to be a seed industry MBA.

It’s the sort of business degree you can’t get from a traditional educational institution. Leading the board of the CSTA exposed me to a broad scope of the industry from coast-to-coast, and I got to work with government, key stakeholders, and be a voice for the industry. Not only did I get to be that voice, I also got a chance to listen to the concerns of our industry stakeholders, and take part in a few efforts to deal with them.

Value sharing. The cereals sector is huge. Canola, corn and soybean acres have grown, and major investments have been made in those crops. Farmers have quickly adopted those new technologies. The value creation undertaking CSTA is engaged in will allow us as an industry to work more closely with other cereals sector stakeholders to find the mechanism that can provide a more favourable environment for investment in these crops. I don’t think it’s a secret that the certified seed royalty collection system we have right now is not enough to allow our industry to compete as fully as it otherwise could. Things need to change, and the cereals sector is certainly keen to move that ball down the field.

Sustainability. New plant breeding innovation — something that CSTA works every day to enable — can help address some of the environmental, disease, and insect challenges faced by our industry today. Genetic improvements to plants are some of the most efficient and sustainable ways to address these challenges.

Industry engagement. As the saying goes, if you’re not at the table, you’re probably on the menu. I never realized how powerful the CSTA brand really is at the government and regulatory level. The Seed Synergy Collaboration Project is an important initiative that will certainly have a positive impact on the seed industry regardless of crop type. Designed to create a next-generation seed regulatory system, there’s an incredible opportunity to synchronize the seed sector and capitalize on the regulatory review currently being undertaken by the federal government.

If I ever had any doubt that our industry is working well together to chart a new course for the future, those doubts were allayed during my time as president of CSTA. We continue to thrive as a seed sector, and more is happening each day to ensure we do.