November 2020

Attend the Virtual Interprovincial Meeting

The Alberta Seed Growers is hosting this year’s Interprovincial meeting – virtually, of course – and this year, it’s open to all CSGA members. The interprovincial meeting provides an opportunity for Branches to exchange information and discuss the most important issues affecting our sector today.

The full-day meeting is being held on November 18, 2020, from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm MST and will feature presentations on the Variety Use Agreement (VUA) Pilot Program, CSGA and Seed Certification 2.0, and a Seeds Canada update. French/English interpretation services will be offered to allow everyone to participate.

This year’s theme is “Communication is the Foundation to Building Bridges” with keynote speaker Kit Welchlin, an energetic and entertaining motivation and education speaker. Kit will speak to the concept of ‘building bridges’ to help people work together better and get more done in less time.

You must pre-register for the event. Agenda details and the registration form are available on the Alberta Seed Growers event page here.

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CSGA Establishes Guidelines for Pedigreed Feminized Hemp Seed Production

As a result of recent Canadian and U.S. regulatory changes for hemp, there has been strong interest and investment in North America in hemp varieties suitable for cannabidiol (CBD) production. Many other countries are also interested in CBD production due to its wide range of potential uses, including therapeutics, cosmetics and food and beverage.

The CSGA has developed certification requirements for these new varieties to allow Canadian plant breeders and seed growers to produce seed for this potentially lucrative market. Hemp seed production under these requirements will help satisfy market demands while maintaining Canada’s excellent reputation for well-regulated, safe, quality products.

Hemp is a naturally dioecious plant with male and female flowers on separate plants. CBD is concentrated in the modified leaves (bracts), which surround the flowers on female hemp plants. New innovative plant breeding and seed production techniques have been developed, resulting in “feminized hemp seed” (FHS) varieties – seeds of these varieties only produce female plants, leading to more CBD per acre.

In Canada, a producer must have a cultivation licence to produce hemp. The Industrial Hemp Regulations administered by Health Canada also specify that commercial hemp crops must be planted with pedigreed seed of a variety approved by Health Canada. Health Canada’s List of Approved Cultivars includes those that consistently produce acceptable levels (less than 0.3%) of THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana when produced under Canadian climatic conditions.

With the assistance of a working group from the CSGA’s Plant Breeders’ Committee, and in consultation with the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance, two documents were developed and recently approved by the CSGA’s Regulatory Services Committee and the Board of Directors. Now available to Canadian growers, the Guidelines for Certified Seed Production of Feminized Hemp Seed Varieties and Hybrids describes the current understanding and approach or framework for CSGA to certify these new types of seed crops in Canada. The second document describes the specific standards and requirements for Certified seed production of Feminized Hemp Seed (FHS) varieties.

At the end of October, approximately 70 students worldwide, including Gail Harris, CSGA’s Manager of Standards and several other Canadians, completed the University of California, Davis’ online Hemp Breeding and Seed Production course. Gail’s successful completion of this course ensures that CSGA remains up to date with the current understanding of this complicated but exciting crop.

Please email Mike Scheffel, Managing Director, Policy and Standards or Gail Harris, Manager, Standards with any questions regarding the new guidelines and certification requirements.

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Digital Crop Certificates: Call for Focus Group Participants

As you may know, CSGA is developing a digital crop certificate to replace the current paper version. The new “e-version” will offer a host of advantages, including:

  • receiving your crop certificates faster
  • a reduction in “administrative burden” or the steps needed to comply with regulations
  • creating an integrated storage system for crop certificate-related documentation (e.g., pedigreed seed declarations, purity, and germination reports) allowing for better usability and accessibility
  • augmented security and integrity of CSGA’s crop certificate through encryption and online verification
  • increased business continuity in the event of a postal disruption or other service disruption (such as the COVID-19 pandemic impacts)
  • ease of future integrations into the existing supply chain

As we move through the digital crop certificate creation process, we want to ensure it meets your business needs. CSGA is looking for participants in a series of small focus groups. Please email Janet Jansen, Technology Manager, Digital Enablement for more details.

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CFA Requests Enhancements to the AgriStability Program

Members are invited to read the October 27 letter sent to the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, President of the Treasury Board, Members of Parliament and Provincial Premiers.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA), of which CSGA is a member, has been working hard to get the federal and provincial governments to commit to improving the AgriStability program.

In 2012, the Conservative government changed the AgriStability program’s trigger and payment levels to 70 percent. This means that a farmer may only potentially receive payment if their production margin in the current year falls below their historical reference margin by 30 percent.

At the time of the change, farmer incomes were on the rise, market access was increasing, and trade barriers were being removed. However, in recent years we have seen increased market and trade volatility, more severe climate-related events, and increased cost of inputs. AgriStability coverage has not changed despite these significant challenges.

AgriStability is not perfect, but it is the best available program to support farmers impacted by factors outside of their control. The CFA is asking the government to commit to program changes. An improved program will also provide farmers with the confidence and assurance to make the necessary investments in their operations to lead Canada’s economic recovery and future growth.

As a result, the CFA requests the payment trigger be immediately restored to 85 percent of historical reference margins, with problematic Reference Margin Limits removed.

We encourage members to read and share the full letter available here.

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Seed Regulatory Modernization Working Group Reviews Needs Assessment Survey

Members of the CFIA Seed Regulatory Modernization Working Group (SRM-WG), including CSGA staff, met Monday, October 26. The WG discussed the draft Needs Assessment Survey and made recommendations for improvement. The CSGA suggested:

  1. Modifications to the structure of the survey
  2. A higher-level approach to the themes being explored – more along the lines of those proposed for Seed Potato
  3. Reword the descriptions and questions regarding seed regulatory framework to better focus on the future needs of the seed sector and its stakeholders

The Needs Assessment Survey is proposed to launch in mid-December and will be open for three months. It is directed at regulated parties (variety developers, seed growers, seed production companies, seed distributors, seed establishment and seed labs), producers, and interested parties, including the organic and value-added crops sectors.

Tasks Teams will be established to examine various aspects of the seed regulatory framework in detail and make recommendations for change to the SRM-WG.  The CSGA will be working with the Branches to identify members interested in participating in the Task Teams, which are expected to start in the new year.

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Responsible Grain – CSGA Helps Shape the Code of Practice for Canadian Grain Farmers

The Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Crops (CRSC) is leading the development of Responsible Grain, a national science-based Code of Practice that demonstrates Canadian grain farmers’ care and commitment to sustain the environment.

Upon implementation, the Code is intended to address issues of interest or concern to grain buyers and consumers, both in Canada and in export markets. Covering all grain crops including cereals, oilseeds and special crops, the on-farm practices identified in the Code consider regional differences in soils, climate and crops grown. It will cover a range of best practices related to the environment and people

A committee with representation from farmers across the country and members of grains industry organizations has drafted the Code of Practice. This draft Code will be reviewed through a formal consultation process that seeks broad stakeholder feedback on how the Code will impact production at the farm level. Mike Scheffel, CSGA’s Managing Director, Policy and Standards, participated in a pre-consultation process, reviewing the Draft Code of Practice and a survey. The four modules that comprise the Code are:

  • Water Management
  • Seed Selection and Use
  • Land Use and Wildlife
  • Health and Wellness

Responsible Grain will be the first Code of Practice for the Canadian grains sector. Consultations will start soon and continue until February 2021, with an expected launch in Spring 2021. Implementation of the practices will be measured over time using the CRSC Metrics Platform to monitor and promote continuous improvement.

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HR Management Support for Members

Farming isn’t what it used to be, yet the ag sector can still undervalue human resource management’s importance. Your farming business needs to be productive and effective. You need to be able to depend on a team of reliable, engaged, and productive workers.

CSGA’s partnership with the Canadian Agricultural HR Council (CAHRC) provides CSGA members free access to information, tools and resources related to effective HR management practices.

CAHRC is a national, not-for-profit organization focused on addressing human resource issues facing agricultural businesses across Canada.

The CAHRC AgriHR Toolkit was developed through extensive consultations with producers across Canada. It helps you using guides, templates, resources, and the critical questions that you need to ask and answer about your business. Improve your people-management skills, and develop key resources to help you find, retain, and support your employees.

Visit hrtoolkit.cahrc-ccrha.ca/welcome and use the coupon code “SeedToolkit”.

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Midge Tolerant Wheat (MTW) Stewardship

The Midge Tolerant Wheat Stewardship Committee is celebrating ten years of Midge Tolerant Wheat stewardship success! Growers have successfully seeded Midge Tolerant Wheat varieties for a decade, in part, due to their commitment to the stewardship necessary to protect this important technology.

The Committee asks you to continue to be vigilant. As you make your variety selections for 2021, keep in mind that seeding Midge Tolerant Wheat that is more than one generation past Certified not only breaks your commitment set out in the Stewardship Agreement, but it puts the one and only tolerance gene at risk. Please contact your retailer if you are unsure what year you last purchased Midge Tolerant Wheat.

The Midge Tolerant Wheat online training program is a great continuing education opportunity. Get started today at midgetolerantwheat.ca.

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Experiencing Impacts From COVID-19? Let Us Know

We all continue to work within and around the COVID-19 restrictions. CSGA would like to know the effect of COVID on the day-to-day business of members.

Please email us if your business was impacted by:

  • Restricted access to inspectors or timely inspections
  • Hiring and retaining employees
  • Physical distancing requirements
  • Access to higher generation seed
  • Post-harvest activities
  • Export certification of seed (for seed companies)
  • Other effects

Additional COVID-19 Information for Seed Growers is also available online.

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Seeds Canada-4 Ratification Package Distributed

As indicated in Joe Rennick’s October 7 Letter to Members, CSTA, CSI, CSAAC and CPTA are moving ahead with their own Seeds Canada amalgamation initiative.

New amalgamation ratification documents have now been sent, and voting is open to members of the participating associations.

For those interested in reviewing those documents, please visit seedscanada.seedinnovation.ca

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Contact Us

CSGA staff are here to help you. Don’t hesitate to contact us. Remember the CSGA national office operates in the Eastern Time (ET) zone.

Telephone: (613) 236-0497
Email: communications@seedgrowers.ca
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 8455, Ottawa, Ontario, K1G 3T1
Courier Address: 21 Florence St, Ottawa, Ontario K2P 0W6

Click here for complete staff contact information.