National seeds sector groups put merger plan to vote

New organization, if approved, would be called Seeds Canada

Members of five national seed sector organizations are set to vote this summer on their proposed amalgamation under a single banner, Seeds Canada.

A “detailed ratification package” has gone out to members of the Canadian Seed Growers’ Association (CSGA), Canadian Seed Institute (CSI), Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA), Canadian Plant Technology Agency (CPTA) and Commercial Seed Analysts Association of Canada (CSAAC).

The new organization, if ratified, “will bring together these organizations for greater efficiency and a common purpose: a stronger, united voice for Canada’s seed sector,” the groups said in a release Friday.

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The ratification package going to members of the five groups will include details about the amalgamation and the proposed bylaws, finances and governance structure for Seeds Canada.

Webinars, member meetings and other communications will take place “in the coming weeks and months” and voting will take place “over the summer.” Members in good standing with more than one of the organizations will be eligible to cast votes with each of those groups.

If one or more of the member organizations doesn’t ratify the plan, the remaining groups “may proceed to amalgamate on their own” — or may choose not to proceed, they said.

The proposal dates back to a 2015 brief from the CSGA and CSTA, followed by a 2017 “green paper” on the “core ideas and context for the next-generation seed system.”

A 2018 white paper from the organizations pointed out that, among other issues facing the seeds sector, the groups have “overlapping memberships and even directors, creating a significant draw on member time and resources.”

CSGA is the largest of the five groups, representing pedigreed seed producers, with a membership made up mainly of farmers. It also has statutory power to certify pedigreed seed.

CSTA represents the seed trade, including some farmer-level seed growers and major seed companies, while CSAAC represents seed-testing labs.

CSI delivers accreditation and monitoring programs and CPTA supports intellectual property protection for the seeds sector.

CropLife Canada, representing life science companies making and selling new varieties and crop protection products, had originally been part of the proposed group but has since opted out and would co-operate with the new group, if formed, by way of a memorandum of understanding.

The current proposal would see Seeds Canada offer “over 36 essential services” to members and clients, including all original services offered by the five founding groups, through a new “single window” model.

The membership model would be voluntary, with voting privileges going to “seed industry business class” members — business entities, including sole proprietors — who grow, breed, condition, test, inspect, develop, trade/sell and/or distribute seed and/or seed crops.

Branch organizations, such as the provincial seed organizations now affiliated with the CSGA, would continue to operate as “autonomous entities.”

Seeds Canada would not have control or any role in such branches’ governance, membership, staff, assets, finances activities or initiatives, but would “continue to honour collection and remittance of fees.” — Glacier FarmMedia Network, with files from Allan Dawson of the Manitoba Co-operator.

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Dave Bedard

Editor, Daily News, Glacier FarmMedia Network. A Saskatchewan transplant in Winnipeg.

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