Seed World

No Matter What Direction We Go, We Have Our Work Cut Out for Us: Nyborg

Editor’s note: The column was written prior to today’s CSGA vote on the Seeds Canada merger.

Having recently ended my two-year term as president of the Canadian Seed Growers’ Association, I can look back with a lot of pride in what was accomplished over the past number of years.

As I write this, our members are still voting to determine whether or not CSGA will amalgamate with our Seed Synergy partners to form Seeds Canada, a conversation that has been going on for the past five years. That voting concluded today during the Special General Meeting of members.

It’s been a long road, but we trust our members to choose their path and vote on both their future and that of the association. Whatever the outcome, there will be a lot of work and I’m excited to see the dedicated group of seed growers and professionals standing by ready to roll up their sleeves.

If the first vote is a no, we will have an opportunity to hold another vote later in 2020. Ultimately, if members don’t vote in favour of the merger, the work begins to shape CSGA 2.0. What that looks like, I’m not quite certain. There will be a lot of effort required to prepare ourselves to move into the future in the event of a “no” vote.

As CSGA prepares to say goodbye to our executive director Glyn Chancey early in 2021, we’ll be forging a new path that we’re not quite familiar with right now. It’s great to have Joe Rennick as my successor to lead the board as president. Joe hails from Saskatchewan and brings years of experience as a grower and from his time on the national and branch boards.

As I said during our virtual annual general meeting in July, we can’t let the unknown deter us from making progress. Whether our members approve the merger or not, we have well over a century of history and experience to fall back on. We know seed certification, and those who make up what is now the CSGA will continue to offer that expertise.

“As CSGA prepares to say goodbye to our executive director Glyn Chancey early in 2021, we’ll be forging a new path that we’re not quite familiar with right now.”

CSGA would have preferred more time to develop a more extensive package and a deferral of the amalgamation ratification vote until later this year or early 2021, but COVID-19 was a game-changer. Post-pandemic, public finances for programs not directly related to Canadians’ health and safety will be threatened. Rather than wait for the axe to fall again, the seed sector must move quickly.

The CSGA has invested significantly over the past five years on modernization with excellent results. Significant improvements have been made to our information management systems, Circular 6 and the procedures it contains, and our human resources.

The board and its committees have also been improved as has the collaborative relationship with the provincial branches. The development of a shared industry-government vision for the seed sector helped us see the potential that exists and how we can harness it.

At the centre of that was the concept of a seed certification system delivered by the private, not-for-profit sector in cooperation with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) with a “single window” for seed regulatory services and increasing use of information management and information technologies.

There’s the technical, and then there’s the emotional. One common thread that runs throughout our sector is the focus on families and relationships.

Despite the intense competition that characterizes the Canadian seed sector, growers and companies recognize the importance of people and working together for the benefit a strong and supportive community that can move into the future together.

I look forward to seeing what that future holds.
—Jonathan Nyborg is past-president of the Canadian Seed Grower’s Association