Seed World

Planning a Smooth Transition as we Evolve into Seeds Canada

As of Feb. 1, 2021, the Canadian Seed Institute will become part of Seeds Canada.

Late in 2020, CSI members voted to amalgamate with three other associations — the Canadian Seed Trade Association, Canadian Plant Technology Agency and Commercial Seed Analysts Association of Canada — and as of February, CSI will no longer exist in name.

What will still exist are the services we provide. Ensuring the continuity of our business is priority No. 1 as we make the transition. We have worked diligently on a plan to make the transition as seamless as possible for our clients. We have spent years ensuring CSI works as an efficient organization, and efficiency will remain a key element of our service delivery.

First, a little history.

CSI was founded in 1997 to deliver accreditation and monitoring programs for the seed industry on the federal government’s behalf. CSI is known today as a cornerstone of the Canadian seed certification system, but it would not have become that had the federal government not been flexible on how oversight of the seed accreditation and monitoring activities could be delivered.

You can’t be an accredited seed testing lab, an authorized importer, approved conditioner or an accredited bulk storage facility in Canada without being audited by CSI.

CSI’s oversight responsibilities begin after seed crops are certified and the crops are ready for processing. We recommend seed facilities for accreditation, then audit the facilities to make sure the facilities maintain the integrity of certified seed as it is cleaned, processed, treated, packaged and labelled with one of CFIA’s official seed certification tags. It’s the ultimate identity preservation program.

But despite having filled an important need that the industry was faced with in the late 1990s, CSI’s management and Board recognized the need to manage CSI’s business risk by growing its services. There was a finite number of seed facilities in Canada in need of our core services. This drove us to find revenue from new service streams, by building upon our existing audit and inspection skills. Today with a growing list of service, CSI is more relevant than ever.

Now, CSI is about to morph into Seeds Canada. The future is bright, but there is much work ahead.

With all the details to manage leading to an amalgamation, we need to mindful of the changes that will impact our client’s businesses. There are many CSI clients that use the CSI brand in their marketing materials and labels for example. Many will have a significant amount of money invested in their labels, so we will need a transition plan that will provide our clients with adequate time to take care of the logistics associated with this change.

It will also take time to update the literally hundreds of forms we use to administer all our different programs. These are controlled documents, managed under our ISO quality management system, that all have to be changed and updated with new branding.

But while our logo and name may change, our focus on exception service delivery will not! In fact, I see our services being enhanced as we evolve into a bigger, better organization.

Seeds Canada will continue to offer all original services offered by each of the four founding organizations. This will ensure continuity and uninterrupted flow of service offerings.

Seeds Canada distinguishes between three types of services — member-based, client-based and corporate services.

Client-based services are those associated for example with CSI’s oversight of RSE and lab accreditation programs and non-seed services such as organic certification, sustainability verification audits. These services will be provided on a cost recovery basis, paid for by the user (not subsidized by membership fees).

CSI’s audit, inspection, and certification services will now take place under the Seeds Canada banner, combined with the client services delivered by our amalgamating partners. We will evaluate our collective business processes and practices, adopt the best solutions and employ them to offer our clients and even higher service quality.

CSI, or should I say, Seeds Canada clients can stay tuned for more information as we move ahead.

I look forward to the coming months.