The recent vote by the Canadian Seed Growers Association (CSGA) to not join the Seeds Canada group was surprising to some. The future relationship between CSGA and Seeds Canada remains uncertain, but there are some potential options moving forward.
“There’s been a lot of reasons why growers, I think, voted against it,” says Sarah Weigum, a seed grower from Three Hills, Alta, who voted against the amalgamation. “A couple of the main reasons that I think had implications, not only for seed growers, but into the industry beyond, into the farming customers that we have. One is the loss of self governance that would’ve happened, if Seeds Canada came to be.”
Right now the CSGA board of directors is made up entirely of seed growing peers and with the proposed new structure under Seeds Canada, and while there are several seed growers on the inaugural board, ultimately the move in the governance structure would mean a guarantee of one seat out of 11 for seed growers, says Weigum.
“This is important to us because seed growers are, in essence, a captive consumer of seed certifying services. There’s only one certifying body,” says Weigum. To the CSGA, it’s important that it’s their peers setting the policies and priorities for the industry which develops accountability and trust, which the CSGA thinks will be lost in the amalgamation. (Story continues below player)
There are options for the CSGA for moving forward, including a single-window approach to providing services to seed growers and seed breeders. For example going to the Canadian Seeds Institute to get a license for a bulk storage facility or for becoming a seed grader. Another example would be going to the CSGA for getting crop certifying needs fulfilled. Plant breeders have to apply to a similar governing body to get plant breeders rights or register their variety. Perhaps having an “all seeds summit” would be a better use of people’s resources and it would be a good opportunity to streamline these services for seed growers and plant breeders.
As for the possibility of having a re-vote to join Seeds Canada, having a re-vote on the exact same proposal doesn’t make a lot of sense, says Weigum. If growers had more representation on the board and if there’s more of a firewall between the advocacy side of Seeds Canada and the regulatory side, then perhaps CSGA would reconsider. However, that also means that the other organizations within Seeds Canada would also have to have a re-vote on an updated proposal. In Weigum’s opinon, a memorandum of understanding between CSGA and Seeds Canada is the most likely scenario at this point.