Seed World

The National Seed Organization: Pulling Back the Curtain

Roy van Wyk
Roy van Wyk
Executive Director
Canadian Seed Institute

April of 2020 will mark five years since the executive committees of the five seed industry associations — CSGA, CSTA, CSAAC, CSI and CPTA— first met to discuss the potential to merge the organizations in common purpose. CropLife Canada joined the discussions in December 2015.

In January 2016, despite the anxiety that is inherent when considering this scale of change, our organizations arrived by chance at an unexpected milestone. Going through the simple exercise of listing and comparing each organization’s issues we organically found ourselves setting aside our differences and making a commitment to focus on what we had in common. From that moment of clarity in January 2016 the Seed Synergy Collaboration initiative was born.

And so here we are today, almost five years later, with around $1.2 million invested equally by the four funding partners (CSTA, CSGA, CSI and CropLife Canada), and a generous $500,000 in funding support from AAFC’s Agri-Risk program. We are moving forward with our eyes fixed on July 2020 to ratify an amalgamation decision. We are finally ready to “pull back the curtain” and reveal the model for governance and structure that has taken shape. It’s a model for amalgamation with the exceptional potential to unite the seed industry in shared purpose.

At the very heart of the amalgamation is the desire to create a more efficient and effective organizational model. While I don’t see the efficiencies in this model being realized in the form of cost savings, I do see increased efficiencies being evident if we consider the costs associated with missed opportunities.

Consider the cost of a less timely response to an emerging trade issue. What’s the cost of fragmented service delivery? And what’s the cost of the all the associations and their staff staff operating in silos? On the surface, the model for amalgamation might look to merely be a repackaging of the five seed associations, but it is much more! It’s a defragmentation of services and a pooling of valuable resources!

Here is what the new national seed association could look like:

  • A national board of 11 people nominated and elected by the members — 7 board members representing each of the 7 regions, and 4 members representing the value chain
  • Primary committees include the Regulatory Committee, Policy Committee, and three Operating Committees: Audit and Finance; Governance HR and Membership; and Programs and Services
  • Within the NSO, four core service categories: Public Affairs; Member Services and Communications; Regulatory and Quality Assurance; and Intellectual Property Enforcement

The NSO is designed to be governed by a diverse, strategic board with a high level of member and stakeholder engagement in the committees. Governance will reflect all regions of Canada and all segments of the value chain. The organization’s structure and single window concept will make it easier for members and users of the system to access services and staff expertise.

It will give seed industry stakeholders a common platform to express their needs and concerns and generate a united voice for the seed industry. And ultimately, it will be the vehicle to decide how to manage and assume additional delegated authorities.