Seed World

15 Pioneers Paving the Road Ahead: Part 5

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

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 Jim Wilson, Ellen Sparry and Jeff Loessin.

Ellen Sparry — Palmerston, Ont.

Ellen joined C&M Seeds in 1994 as genetics manager for the company’s research and development program. She assumed the role of general manager in 2015 and today continues to direct C&M Seeds towards its primary focus of providing cereal genetics to Eastern Canada.

On why she likes the new board structure so much

“The new board structure is very forward thinking. We’re no longer requiring a certain number of board members to be from certain provinces like it was designed before. Having the board in the middle, and the 17 committees all connected to it, is pretty powerful, I think. It’s a very strong business plan.”

On how the new organization can move forward without the CSGA

“Getting things done will no doubt take a little longer now. Without having everybody together under one umbrella, we’re looking at doing a little more back-and-forth, which is unfortunate. But we’ll figure it out one way or another.”

Jeff Loessin — London, Ont.

As category leader for Corteva Agriscience, Jeff is responsible for corn, soybean, cereal and forage seed marketing in Canada, defining and developing the five-year and long-range marketing plans for these key seed crops for the Pioneer and Brevant brands for Corteva.

On how the perceived rift between seed growers and the seed trade can be bridged

“Some industry participants hold the paradigm of seed grower versus seed trade. It might come from when the canola industry went from open-pollinated, publicly available varieties to hybrid varieties that were developed by private investment. A similar change happened in soybeans with the introduction of herbicide tolerant traits. The business model was disrupted. When things change like that, there will be tension created between the industry participants. The reality is that we need the participants in Canadian agriculture to succeed for Canadian ag to compete globally, and to deliver food that is healthy and sustainable. Seeds Canada brings together the seed growers, the seed technology developers, and all the parts of the seed value chain in between to one table to address seed industry issues and move agriculture forward.”

Jim Wilson — Darlingford, Man.

Jim produces pedigreed cereals and soybeans and commercial canola. He also owned and operated Wilson Seeds, a registered seed establishment, processing and retailing pedigreed seed, from 1993-2019. He’s currently vice-chair of Canterra Seeds and chair of the Manitoba Agricultural Service Corporation.

On why he likes the new design of the Seeds Canada board

“The whole premise behind the original five-member amalgamation with CSGA was to have the whole value chain, the whole industry, at the same table and making decisions to move the whole industry forward. It’s good that the new Seeds Canada offers an opportunity for seed growers to be on the board and involved in the governance, the decision making. The new structure is one member, one vote. If I’m a seed grower, an individual member of Seeds Canada, I have the same input and voting power as anyone else. I think that does address some of the concern that was expressed by seed growers originally.”