Seed World

4 Things are Key to Our Future as Seed Growers


Membership numbers for our organization are well-known. With 3,500 members across the country, we are a large group that represents seed growers from coast-to-coast.

Currently there is only one category of CSGA membership (i.e. the individual in whose name the crop certificate is issued). Most of our members own and/ or work for one of approximately 2,500 businesses that produce pedigreed seed in Canada. Most of those businesses are farm-based.

At the heart of those businesses are farm family members and key employees. CSGA is currently consulting on a new membership model that recognizes the role of the business entity in seed production as well as the contribution of professional seed growers and others.

The proposal being considered is whether there should be multiple membership categories, including seed businesses, other related businesses, and individuals working in various professional categories in those businesses or elsewhere in the seed system. This could be accomplished within CSGA’s current business model or in a future national seed organization in which CSGA members and others would find a home (as proposed by the Seed Synergy Collaboration Project).

Within the proposal to consider multiple membership categories is a sub-proposal that the business entity be the core sustaining membership category (i.e. the one that pays the bulk of the seed certification fees) rather than the individual. This would potentially increase the incentive for individuals to keep up their memberships even in years they were not producing pedigreed seed and set the stage for the development of voluntary membership options.

This in turn would allow potentially many hundreds of professionals (seed growers, seed analysts, seed inspectors, breeders and the like) to participate in and contribute to the single national seeds organization proposed under Seed Synergy on a voluntary basis.

One key question about the proposed single organization is what its scope will be. Will it just be the sum of what the current organizations do or will

it go beyond that? At a minimum, it needs to do something the current organizations can’t do more effectively on their own. What will membership criteria be? Are we looking at only those who belong to the current organizations or do we open the doors of the seed industry up to others who historically haven’t been a part of it?

Going forward, our board’s initial objective is to reach a common position on all elements of the Seed Synergy White Paper with our seven provincial seed grower association branches by early April 2019. If we are successful, we will then begin work with them, with our Seed Synergy partners and potentially others in clarifying and confirming objectives and timelines and the details of the system and organizational changes required. To support this effort, face-to-face and electronic engagement with members has begun and will continue until project completion.

The initial phase of engagement is focusing on four key areas and related questions. These questions are deemed to be the most important in the very short term to allow the national and provincial association boards to formulate a clear and constructive starting position for the next round of Seed Synergy talks to begin later in 2019.

The questions that we are seeking feedback on first right now are:

1. Governance of a Single Organization: Should the representative governance model utilized by CSGA (where provinces and regions of the country nominate directors) be carried over into a new national seed organization in some form or should directors simply be selected based upon competency criteria from a national pool?

2. Membership of a Single Organization: Who should be eligible for membership in a new national seed organization? Should the core sustaining membership category be business- or individual-based, or a combination of both? If both, should voting rights vary by category and if so, which category or categories should be accorded the right to select association directors?

3. Single Organization Scope: Should a new national seed association include provincial branches? If so, should the current provincial seed grower associations broaden their membership to facilitate their involvement?

4. Single Window: What seed regulatory and service functions (eg. seed and crop certification, variety registration and eligibility for certification, facility audits, professional development and certification) should be vested in a new not-for-profit industry-governed seed organization and who should pay for the system?

Although value creation is a core component of the Seed Synergy value proposition and of vital importance to our members and the seed and agriculture sectors as a whole, the board is still in the early stages of formulating its position on the issue. For the time being, we believe that supporting the trailing royalty (SVUA) option proposed by AAFC and CFIA is the one most compatible with the growth of our core business — pedigreed seed production and sales and is the most likely to spur seed industry growth and development. However, this discussion is evolving and our thinking will need to evolve with it.

Coming back to the “single national seed organization” proposal for a moment, seed growers and others’ choice is clear — to share responsibility for their respective pieces of the system in exchange for a greater say on how the whole system works or not.