Seed World

Being CSGA President Taught me that the “Good Old Days” Never Existed

In April of 2015, I sat down for the first meeting of the Seed Synergy Collaboration Project. Around the table were members of our six industry associations, and we all knew we were undertaking something major.

Here we are three-and-a-half years later, and the sense of urgency is greater than ever. The federal government has indicated its intention to open up the Seeds Act in 18 months, and we need to be ready with a firm proposal and a solid idea of what we want to do to build the seed regulatory system of the future. Seed Synergy is ramping up, and as we look ahead to having a white paper ready for the fall, I see light at the end of that tunnel and a new day dawning for seed growers in Canada.

Having been president for the past two years and taking part in Seed Synergy was a thrilling experience. It didn’t come without its hiccups, but that’s always part of the growth process. This can be difficult. Even though you think you are relevant, there’s a chance you can become irrelevant due to the size of and changes within your industry. It happens all the time to people who are slow to change and adapt. The world passes by and before you know it, you find yourself angry about the fact that the world isn’t like it was back in the good old days.

The fact is, the “good old days” never really existed. Our industry has always been in flux. The Canadian Seed Growers’ Association has a 114-year history marked by constant change. Seed Synergy represents just the latest major change in that time.

The CSGA has 3,500 members. That’s a lot of people with different views on various issues. Those views are often influenced by the region they live in. Engaging the membership over the past two years has meant a lot of dialogue from coast to coast. It’s important to hear everyone out and let them have their say, but it’s also been crucial for me to remember that at the end of the day, status quo is never an option. We have to move forward, and not simply be satisfied with the way things are.

Old habits are hard to break and change never comes easy, but I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen over the past number of months from my fellow CSGA members and industry stakeholders in general as the sector works to forge a new future for itself and change old paradigms it’s operated under for decades.

Right now, the Canadian seed sector is made up of six separate associations. An idea put forward at our annual meeting in July calls for our five dedicated seed organizations to merge into one and form a formal partnership with CropLife Canada, whose interests lie in both seed and chemistry.

This partnership with CropLife is nothing new — the Canadian Seed Trade Association already has a Memorandum of Understanding with CropLife Canada to partner on a number of common interests. Essentially, our industry would be represented by a central seeds organization aided by CropLife Canada.

This unified seed sector would make it easier to communicate with government, seize new opportunities as they come while better dealing with challenges when they arise.

Change is already evident. Our industry’s attempt to function better has helped people to put differences aside and realize we all share a common interest — advancing the Canadian seed sector. Stay tuned!

—Runnalls is a seed grower based in New Liskeard, Ont., and recently passed on the president’s gavel to New Brunswick’s Jonathan Nyborg. See our November print edition for commentary from Nyborg