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Scaled back, but Seeds Canada venture will move ahead

[Submitted]

A proposed amalgamation of Canadian seed industry groups is moving ahead, albeit without one of the five organizations that were part of the original talks.

Although members of the Canadian Seed Growers Association didn’t vote to back the formation of a new combined organization, dubbed Seeds Canada, four other groups will move ahead: Canadian Plant Technology Agency (CPTA); the Commercial Seed Analysts Association of Canada (CSAAC); the Canadian Seed Growers’ Association (CSGA); the Canadian Seed Institute (CSI); and, the Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA).

Formal approval is still pending, but the new group could be in operation by early next year, the culmination of discussions that date back to 2015.

“That process had an oversight committee made up of folks from all five organizations that had toiled away for quite a few years, taking it from just a crazy idea on a napkin to getting organizations to have membership votes on the amalgamation question,” said Quentin Martin of Winterbourne’s Cribit Seeds, a CSGA member who will serve as a board member of the new seed body.

The collective goal would be removing redundancies in the Canadian seed industry.

In advance of the vote, Martin and other members of Cribit Seeds worked to ensure people became educated on the topic before they made a decision. When it came time to cast votes, Martin said the process was fair and saw a higher turnout online than it would have got from an in-person process.

When not-for-profits vote to merge, two-thirds of each group’s membership must approve. Martin said the Seeds Canada vote passed easily at all of the organizations except for CSGA, which had roughly 45 per cent of members vote in favour, freezing the motion for all parties involved.

“I was concerned that that one might end up between 50 and 67 per cent, and that would be awkward. If you have an organization that the majority want change, and are restrained by a minority, that’s really awkward,” he said. 

“As a dues paying member of CSGA, I was disappointed that the membership in total didn’t see the value in moving forward. There was a very effective and efficient campaign by no proponents that was very effective. The pun is intended: they seeded enough fear that the vote didn’t carry.”

“While there may be one less amalgamating partner, the vision for Seeds Canada to become the voice of the seed sector, including seed growers, analysts, and the seed trade, remains the same. The goal is for Seeds Canada’s membership to include national and provincial seed associations, as well as seed growers from across the country. Growers play an integral role in the seed system, and Seeds Canada needs their involvement to succeed,” the four remaining groups said in a joint statement.

Martin said he was impressed by the speed at which the other organizations were able to move forward, noting farmers who buy seeds won’t see much of a difference in the process.

“By and large, it’s an industry issue. It really won’t significantly impact most farmers in Canada – it’s just trying to be more efficient in utilizing resources earlier in the process, like before the farmer actually gets his bag of seed. This is all in the background. And it is just mechanics – it’s the mechanics of how we end up getting the certified product into the hands of farmers. That’s all it is.”

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