Seed World

Is it Time to Take off our Association Hats?

Creating a “Seeds Canada” Requires us All to Think Outside the Box

Glyn Chancey
Executive Director

Seeds Canada. You may have heard that term thrown around in recent months. It’s a hypothetical name some use to describe the new Canadian seed industry organization proposed in the Seed Synergy Collaboration Project White Paper.

The White Paper, prepared by the six seed industry organizations behind the project, calls for the creation of “a single, consolidated seed industry organization ready and able to speak with one voice, deliver the seed certification program, provide services to its members, deliver the training required to keep the sector current and… lead the sector into the future, to the benefit of Canadian agriculture.”

Recognizing that form generally follows function, the White Paper lays out a seed regulatory modernization change agenda centred around innovation and a single window regulatory services model. The key enablers? Regulatory amendments, new technology and a single seed industry organization — along with a very strong dose of political will, both among industry and within government.

Interestingly enough, government may be out ahead of industry in translating political will into action. The CFIA’s Forward Regulatory Plan has identified Seed Regulatory Modernization as a priority for over two years, recently moving the target date for pre-publication of enabling regulations to the fall of 2021. Some would say that the recent change in that target date — from 2020 to 2021 — was at least in part designed to allow the industry to get its act together.

By contrast, the seed industry White Paper has been in circulation for just over six months, with consensus building around some of the White Paper proposals still a work in process.

That said, there are encouraging signs that the stars are finally aligning. The upcoming CSGA-CSTA joint summer meetings promise to bring the seed industry together, both figuratively and literally, in a way few would have imagined even a few years ago. The political (board level) leadership of the Seed Synergy project has stepped up in an unprecedented way to define the parameters of a transition project that could “Seeds Canada” a reality.

This in turn has created space for the respective organizations’ staff to work more closely together than ever for the common good, with elements of a robust Blueprint to guide them.

For more info on the Blueprint, check out the Seed Synergy White Paper at

[tweetshare tweet=”Interestingly enough, government may be out ahead of industry in translating political will into action.” username=”germinationmag”]

Returning to government’s perspective once again, consider the CFIA’s description of the objective of its proposed seed regulatory modernization. “The proposed amendments would reduce overlap and redundancy; increase responsiveness to industry changes; address gaps, weaknesses and inconsistencies; and provide clarity and flexibility to affected regulated parties.”

It is hard to miss the philosophical alignment here with the overarching themes of the White Paper.

Equally encouraging is the CFIA’s recognition of the legitimacy of the Seed Synergy partners in their regulatory modernization initiative and the need to re-examine the respective roles of industry and government in a future system.

“The CFIA will consult a broad range of stakeholders representing the full value chain, including Seed Synergy (an-industry-led group), regarding any proposed amendments. Consultations on proposed amendments may include the role of government and industry in terms of public-private partnerships for functions such as variety registration, seed standards and seed certifications.”

If we can all remove our association hats, work in tandem with our government partners, reach out to the entire value chain and beyond for support, embrace technology and a service mindset and above all, think outside the box, then the next few years could be some of the most impactful in the seed sector’s recent history.