Seed World

CSGA’s Roadmap to Success is Clear

Several months after Canadian Seed Growers’ Association members voted down the Seeds Canada amalgamation proposal, I’m confident about the future of my association. Anyone looking for a roadmap to the future of CSGA need look no further than its strategic plan, available on the CSGA website.

The plan lays out five main initiatives that CSGA is undertaking that are designed to move Canadian seed growers into the 21st century. Part of the plan is to modernize Circular 6, including enhancing CSGA’s member services and expanding its business opportunities — which involves developing and implementing a business plan to facilitate CSGA’s expansion into the certification of non-traditional crop kinds and types.

CSGA’s recent announcement that it has developed certification requirements for feminized hemp seed varieties to allow Canadian plant breeders and seed growers to produce seed for this potentially lucrative market are a prime example.

That’s what seed growers have always done — modernize and keep up with the times. Everything is laid out in the CSGA Strategic Plan, and we are carrying out that vision every day.

Despite the CSGA vote to not become a part of Seeds Canada, Seeds Canada is going ahead with the participation of the other four associations and is expected to be active as of Feb. 1, 2021.

As it moves ahead as a standalone organization, in my personal opinion, CSGA members should be confident in the path ahead. All of the articles I have read in various media about the Seeds Canada amalgamation focus on the fact that CSGA members overwhelmingly voted against amalgamation.

To me, the August 2020 “no” vote was not a vote against amalgamation so much as it was a vote for CSGA and what many seed growers see as the path to ensuring the best for their businesses.

There was a lot about the Seeds Canada proposal that seed growers like me saw as potentially detrimental to their bottom lines. As CSGA members, we have a strong voice and strong influence over policy development and we want that to continue.

The CSGA is preparing to make important decisions about its future and the positions it will take on Seed Regulatory Modernization. These decisions will set the course for the CSGA to achieve its vision for a modern seed certification system by communicating with its members.

CSGA has already announced that it plans to have a new target operating model ready in the new year, which will lay out a path forward.

A recent edition of CSGA’s Seed Scoop newsletter notes that, “The new [Seeds Canada] organization is similar to, but different in some important ways, from the version that CSGA members rejected this past summer.”

It goes on to say that CSGA “looks forward to working with the new organization to ensure that seed growers’ voices are aligned with those of the new organization where we have similar policy positions and where we do not, to seek common ground.”

As our national president Joe Rennick said in a letter to members back in October of 2020, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has just initiated the first phase of its long-awaited process to modernize the Seeds Regulations, with the establishment of a Seed Regulatory Modernization Working Group. “CSGA is at the table, but we are one of many, so effective partnerships and alliances will continue to be key success factors going forward,” Mr. Rennick wrote.

I’ll be the first to say that the two groups — CSGA and Seeds Canada — will accomplish a lot if we work together. As a proud seed grower and CSGA member, I look forward to seeing both organizations work toward a common good.

—Markert is the owner of Markert Seeds in Vulcan, Alta. He has sat on numerous seed grower boards and was a member of the Seed Synergy Oversight Committee