Seed World

15 Pioneers Paving the Road Ahead: Part 4

We are gathering insights from the 15 inaugural board members of Seeds Canada, our new national seed organization. This week, we present part 4 of 5. Click here for Part 3.

On Feb. 1, the Canadian Plant Technology Agency (CPTA), Commercial Seed Analysts Association of Canada (CSAAC), Canadian Seed Institute (CSI) and the Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA) will amalgamate to create Seeds Canada.

The vision for Seeds Canada remains the same — to become the leading voice of the Canadian seed sector, helping its members succeed and grow in Canada and around the world.

This group of people from all areas of the seed sector intend to help the new organization do just that. In their own words, here’s how they plan to lead Seeds Canada.

This week we offer insights from Nick Sekulic, Eric McLean and Jeff Reid.


Nick Sekulic — Rycroft, Alta.

Nick owns Prestville Farms, an independent seed retailer. He was born and raised in the northwestern Alberta farming community of Rycroft/Spirit River. His early career was in the information technology sector, followed by a management and instructional role in post-secondary education.

On how Seeds Canada can move forward without the CSGA

“I’m a processor, but I’m a farmer first. I would traditionally be involved in a number of these organizations that will now be amalgamated. I understood the misgivings that CSGA members had in voting ‘No’, but I thought those concerns could be overcome. We can’t be paralyzed by indecision. We need to move the ball forward.”

On why he agreed to sit on the inaugural board

“My seed processing business grew very quickly based on demand in our region. Given the amount of money and investment we’ve made in it, I knew I had to become engaged in the industry. I was actually nominated by the seed growers in British Columbia, because of my proximity and service to that market. Given that I’m in the Peace region of Alberta, and many of my customers are in B.C., I think that speaks to a challenge we have in this industry. Lots of seed growers don’t engage. I hope Seeds Canada can change that.”

Eric McLean — Oak River, Man.

After a brief three years in the feed business, Eric began his career at JS Henry & Son Ltd. The business has grown from 3,000 acres and processing 150,000 bushels annually, to a thriving agribusiness and 6,500-acre stock seed farm that contracts around 20,000 acres and processes 750,000 bushels annually.

On how Seeds Canada can get more seed growers involved

“The challenge will be ensuring grower voice and ideals are upheld. Without the growers’ full participation, this will be a moving target until Seeds Canada can generate and prove enough value to make a compelling argument for seed growers to join and truly complete the Seeds Canada vision.”

“Transparency in the initial years will be very important. We will want to show seed growers that although we will develop different agendas, we will want input and guidance. The Seeds Canada vote has taught me that my idealism doesn’t match every seed grower and that engagement is critical. This is going to be difficult with pandemic travel restrictions and not being able to gather and travel. Zoom calls are OK but they aren’t the same as a good visit face-to-face.”

Jeff Reid — Kanata, Ont.

Jeff is the general manager of SeCan, Canada’s largest distributor of certified seed. He has spent the past 33 years in the seed industry in various roles — from research and development, to sales and marketing management — working in every major Canadian field crop.

On how Seeds Canada will attract the involvement of seed growers

“A whole array of issues that Seeds Canada will deal with are really going to have a pretty significant direct effect on the ability of independent seedsman to be successful in the future. I think once they see those kinds of engaging discussions happening around the Seeds Canada table, it’s going to become clear that it’s an important place for them to be and to be plugged into.”

“The fact that membership is voluntary I think will really allay a lot of fears. Seeds Canada is really going to have to prove its worth in order to attract the entire value chain.”