Seed World

People Want to Know “How is this Going to Affect Me?”

Colleen Acres
Colleen Acres
Manager, Ontario Seed Growers Association

I recently started in the role of manager of the Ontario Seed Growers Association (OSGA). We are a branch of the Canadian Seed Growers Association (CSGA), responsible for member concerns, advocacy work and education work on behalf of seed growers.

For over a decade I worked at the CSGA head office in Ottawa. At the time I was working predominately with producers appraising crop reports. Back then, we did everything on paper.

Today, the situation is vastly different. CSGA’s paper-based system has been replaced by an electronic one. It’s startling to see how much further technology has taken seed growers.

Over the years, I also worked on a lot of education and publicity work, organizing what activities the branches were involved in from a promotional standpoint at the various farm shows across the country. After my time with the CSGA in Ottawa wrapped up, I spent four years with the Canadian Seed Trade Association at their office in the capital. I watched CSTA increasingly adopt new technology as well.

As I gained knowledge of how both organizations are structured, I saw a lot of parallels and a lot of need for the organizations to be working together. Fast forward to where we are today, and that synergy is starting to come to fruition.

As the Seed Synergy Collaboration Project progresses, the OSGA board is ready to see some of the details fleshed out. Grassroots producers want to start seeing some of the specifics of what’s it going to look like and what it’s going to cost to have our five dedicated seed associations merge into one — a major proposal put forth in the white paper discussed at CSGA’s interprovincial meeting held in Winnipeg in November of 2018.

In regard to the discussion around value creation, there’s a big need in Ontario to capture or collect something from the diverted cereal grain that may be kept by farmers and used as seed. Our members are interested in these discussions and look forward to more details, some of which were provided at the recent public consultations held across the country. We recently held our OSGA annual meeting and were happy to share some those details with our grassroots producers.

Members are eager to hear more. For example, what will the costing structure look like on capturing a royalty collected on diverted grain, traditionally referred to as farm-saved seed? Our members need to be comfortable with the specifics in order to promote it to their customers.

The information needs to be personalized. People want to know, “How is it going to affect me?” The more we can explain those specifics — this is what you might be expected to pay, or this is what you might be expected to sign — the more comfortable people will be buying into the concept of value creation and Seed Synergy.

Now more than ever, we all have a lot of information coming at us, and the more we can reduce the background noise and clarify things, the better — it helps everyone to understand what the ramifications are and make the best decisions.