Seed World

Seeds Canada’s First Semi-Annual Meeting: Here’s What to Expect

In this week’s podcast, we sit down with Seeds Canada Executive Director Barry Senft, President Ellen Sparry, Director of Member Strategy and Solutions Krista Erickson to talk about the upcoming Seeds Canada Semi-Annual Meeting which begins Nov. 15. For info and to register visit


Marc Zienkiewicz: Hi, it’s Marc Zienkiewicz and welcome to the Germination Podcast. Coming up from November 15 to 17 is the Seeds Canada semi-annual meeting, which will be held virtually and a number of important discussions concerning the strategic direction of the organization and key policy files will be discussed. I sat down with Seeds Canada executive director Barry Senft, President Ellen Sperry, and Director of Member Strategy and Solutions Krista Erickson to talk about the meeting and what they hope will come out of it. Enjoy our chat.

Seeds Canada’s first annual general meeting took place back in July, it was an opportunity for members to get together and celebrate the formation of the new organization, but also to discuss important policy issues. Executive Director Barry Senft says that the Semi-Annual Meeting will serve to help build on some of those important issues discussed back in July.

Barry Senft: So much goes on in the world in a matter of months, that it’s just a good opportunity for members to hear what the organization is doing on their behalf. And it’s good for the organization to hear what the members opinions on those issues are. Although we have newsletters and what have you, it’s always a good good to have a touch point for that type of discussion.

Ellen Sparry: The world doesn’t stop, the issues continue to roll on and we’re right on top of it. The semi-annual is just to bring members together on key issues and key topics and continue to build for all of the members.

Marc Zienkiewicz: A major discussion topic planned for the semi-annual meeting is seed regulatory modernization. Senft says there’s a lot of work to do in order to restart the process after the recent federal election.

Barry Senft: Although the federal election put a hold on that for almost eight weeks. I think the other big issue that’s going to be reported on is an update to the Seats Canada Strategic Plan. It will be opportunity for members to hear where we are in that process and to have some input into that.

Marc Zienkiewicz: As far as seed regulatory modernization goes, Senft says the organization wants to focus on building awareness of the costs and benefits of the seeds regulations at each level of the seed value chain to ensure there’s a common understanding of the value of the system and broad support for changes that meet the current and future needs of the seed sector.

Barry Senft: We’re concerned about the process leading up to it that we haven’t had those big picture issues discussing the vision for what the future of the seed industry should look like. Meanwhile, we’re working away on these task teams. So I think we’re we’re getting ahead of ourselves and we need to pause part of this process, to catch up and set out that vision. And then have the task teams work toward what has been decided on as far as those two issues. We were like to believe it was going to be a substantial review, and that’s what we’re wanting.

Marc Zienkiewicz: The semi-annual will include a roundtable discussion with Dr. Siddika Mithani, president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Ellen Sparry: I mean, there’s several topics, obviously, that carried forward from those legacy organizations, but certainly seed reg modernization, you know, it’s been talked about now for a couple of years, really. This is probably one of our big topics right now, and will be very important in our semi-annual and having that discussion with Dr. Mithani on what the big picture is and answering some of members’ questions. Our AGM was to get everybody together again after the amalgamation. It was our first big meeting and now it’s even more focused on policies and what members expected out of Seeds Canada and how to build it and drive it forward.

Marc Zienkiewicz: Krista Erickson is Director of Member Strategy and Solutions for Seeds Canada. She says the semi-annual meeting will include information on Seeds Canada’s new member fee structure, its new strategic plan, its new organizational chart and information on new staff members as well. It will also feature the first Seats Canada professional development session.

Krista Erickson: Some of our newer members that maybe aren’t as familiar with how Seeds Canada intends to run, it’ll help give them confidence to reach out to other members or to staff and to maybe in the future step into leadership roles and become more involved with Seeds Canada that way.