In my August 28, 2020 letter, I shared the CSGA Board of Directors’ initial perspective on the Seeds Canada amalgamation vote outcome. I indicated then that we faced two options: resume amalgamation discussions or concentrate our energies on CSGA renewal and modernization. I also noted that the choice of which option to pursue would depend on our members’ views and those of our former Seeds Canada partners.
Since then my CSTA, CSI, CSAAC and CPTA counterparts have advised me that they will be proceeding with their own amalgamation initiative. So even if we were to experience an unexpected surge in member support for the Seeds Canada proposal, that ship has sailed, leaving your Board with two pressing priorities: Our own renewal and modernization agenda and CFIA’s plans for seed regulatory modernization.
With respect to the former, we are not starting from scratch. What is currently referred to as the CSGA 2.0 project, will continue to build on our many strengths and incorporate those elements of the Seed Canada proposal for which there is clear member support. A “single window” pedigreed seed certification service for Canada is one of those elements. Since the inception of the Seed Synergy dialogue almost 5 years ago, this concept has consistently attracted broad-based support from our membership and other stakeholders. So, it is a logical point from which to build.
That said, how far and how fast this concept is translated into meaningful change with benefits for seed growers, the seed sector and Canadian agriculture, will depend in part on the support it receives from our regulatory partners. In this regard, the CFIA has just initiated the first phase of its long-awaited process to Modernize the Seed Regulations, with the establishment of a Seed Regulatory Modernization Working Group. CSGA is at the table, but we are one of many, so effective partnerships and alliances will continue to be key success factors going forward.
This fall, our Board and Committees, in consultation with our Branches, will be revisiting the collective efforts that brought us to this point. Over the late fall and winter months, we will confirm our Association’s strategic direction, ongoing modernization plans, and the precise form and objectives of the CSGA 2.0 project with you. In parallel, we will complete a comprehensive root cause analysis of the CSGA amalgamation vote results to identify the factors that most influenced members’ voting decisions. In the process, we will reach out to all members – those who voted and those who did not – to help inform that analysis.
As the CSGA 2.0 project unfolds, we will work with our members, clients, seed and agriculture value chain partners, and governments to build consensus for system change where it is needed and implement it where and when we are able. The Next Generation Seed System proposal, developed with our Seed Synergy partners, and our current Strategic Plan, will continue to provide important reference points for both the CSGA 2.0 project and CSGA’s position on any CFIA proposed changes to the Seeds Regulations. However, fully understanding what you and other stakeholders need from the seed system of which CSGA is the original steward, is of primary importance.
Once-in-a-generation changes to that system are being contemplated. Your Board is ready to engage, and I look forward to setting our course together with you.