February 1, 2021, four seed industry groups amalgamated to form Seeds Canada with the vision to become the leading voice of the Canadian seed sector, helping members succeed and grow in Canada, and around the world.
RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney was recently joined by Seeds Canada’s Barry Senft, executive director, and Ellen Sparry, the group’s inaugural president.
The key focuses for Seeds Canada in the months ahead are building a new culture and working on seed regulatory modernization, as well as keeping a presence in parliament. A strategic plan is also at the top of the list for the new organization, and with the annual general meeting coming up, it’s a good opportunity to show members what the possibilities are, and to keep building, says Sparry.
Building a brand new culture — putting together four organization’s mission statements and values — requires respecting the previous contributions, legacy, and organizations that are brought to the partnership, says Senft. “But, that said, you turn the page and you develop that new culture,” Senft says — a process that he has experienced previously, with the formation of Grain Farmers of Ontario.
After the potential fifth member of the organization, the Canadian Seed Growers Association, voted against amalgamation in September 2020, Seeds Canada is building its separate path going forward and will eventually hold dialogue with them, says Sparry, since CSGA is also in seed regulatory groups.
Senft also has experience with regulatory boards in the grain industry and got an understanding of what is needed, who the stakeholders are, and how to go forward with practical solutions.
“A big part of Seeds Canada’s issue is that we’ve got a regulatory environment that recognizes a change in the seed industry,” says Senft. “Seed is where it all starts for a producer, and the strides that have been made in the seed industry in the last 20 or 30 years have been significant, and we’re just on the fringe of accelerating that opportunity, and they need the regulatory environment to allow that to happen.”