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Global movement is never simple.

October 5, 2022 – In September, I had my first opportunity to travel internationally representing Seeds Canada, attending the Seed American Association (SAA) Congress in Punta del Este, Uruguay. SAA represents the interests of the Seed Industry within the Americas. Seeds Canada is a member of SAA and has a representative serving on the SAA Board of Directors.

This trip was my first to the southern hemisphere and, despite my best efforts in planning, my travel to Uruguay didn’t exactly go smoothly. Prior to leaving, I tried my best to ensure my vaccinations were up to date, although, it wasn’t clear which ones I would need, and my historical records were a mix of incomplete handwritten papers and modern electronic listings. I, of course, needed proof of covid vaccination to get into the US and Uruguay, but, which documents, or records would serve as adequate proof was questionable. So, I brought everything: papers from the pharmacy, the Alberta Health QR code, all my written and digital records.

I arrived in Houston to discover that my flight to Buenos Aires had been cancelled due to maintenance issues and rescheduled to the next morning. This not only necessitated a night in Houston, but also meant I couldn’t fly from Argentina to Uruguay until the following day adding an additional night in Buenos Aires that I hadn’t prepared for. Being Canadian, I’ve done my best to master both French and English, but my Spanish is “no es bueno”. This didn’t make anything easier.

What is the point of this sob story beyond trying to garner some sympathy?

International movement of people and goods is rarely straightforward. Unfortunately, our seed system is global, and this can’t be avoided. In Canada, we rely on southern regions for contra-season nurseries to allow advancing of generations and bulking of seed stocks more quickly. Seed needs to move down, and then back up. Many of our crops are not conducive to seed production in Canada at all, so we rely on international imports. Once a crop is grown, we also need to ensure that a particular variety or seed treatment is approved for import in that market.

A large portion of the conversation in Punta del Este focused on the need and benefit of harmonization of practices amongst countries. Phytosanitary requirements differ in each jurisdiction and are regularly evolving. Side meetings were held with Servicio Agrícola y Ganadero (SAG), the national agency responsible for plant protection in Chile, to discuss phytosanitary issues and inspections of Canadian contra-season canola production. While differences in process may cause frustration, it is obvious, not only from this meeting but from the plenary sessions, that the desire to collaborate, cooperate and harmonize is strong. Meetings like the SAA and national seed trade organizations provide venues for these discussions and, hopefully, lead to stronger relationships in the future.

 

Harmonization of plant breeding innovation policy and regulation was also a hot topic on the SAA agenda. South America is generally progressive in embracing genetic technology, with a few exceptions like Peru, similar to Canada. However, recent referendums held in Chile, which considered modifications to the country’s legislation and acceptance of biotechnology, could have created major issues for the Canadian seed trade. Health Canada’s recently released guidance on crops developed via gene editing, as well as the proposed direction from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) was given a nod as progressive regulation which other countries should seek to aspire to. While the Americas may have reasonable harmonization, the same cannot be said for the rest of the world, and much work remains.      

The SAA Congress wrapped up by discussing a topic that seems to be on the agenda at any ag conference, no matter the location. Conversations on sustainability in the seed sector focused not only on the contribution of seed and associated technologies to help improve soil health and mitigate, as well as facilitate adaptation to, climate change, but also on the seed sector’s role in responsibly using resources, including land, water, and people, in production. If it hasn’t already, sustainability may become yet another metric that allows- or impedes- movement of seed within the global marketplace.

I’m looking forward to continuing these conversations with the international seed community. However, hopefully next time with fewer obstacles to my movement.

Author: Lauren Comin, Seeds Canada Regulatory Affairs Manager

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Seeds Canada is the leading voice of the seed sector in Canada, with members including analysts, breeders, distributors, processors, seed growers and other contributors to the industry, located from coast to coast. Seed is the vital first link in the agriculture value chain, contributing over $6 billion to the economy, employing more than 63,000 Canadians, and exporting more than $700 million annually.

Media Inquiries:

Lise Newton
lnewton@seeds-canada.ca
343-777-3867

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The seed industry is committed to transparency.

September 26, 2022 – Seeds Canada is the leading voice of the Canadian seed sector, representing seed growers, analysts, breeders, distributors, processors, retailers, service providers and all stakeholders along the seed value chain from coast to coast. Seeds Canada’s mandate is to support the growth of the seed sector, including the delivery of organic certifications.

Seeds Canada understands the importance of transparency to support the diversity of production systems and maintain market access. We recognize that the organic sector needs to know which varieties grown in Canada have been edited gene-edited to meet their certification requirements.

With support from our members, Seeds Canada is expanding existing transparency systems by creating a public database that will make it easy for farmers, members of the value chain, and the public to identify which varieties were developed using gene editing. This database is in addition to the continued transparency farmers will have at the retail level through company-specific materials and informational tools, such as provincial seed guides. The database will be accessible on our website, seeds-canada.ca, and will adapt as the needs of the industry evolve.

Industry-led transparency efforts such as these have supported the successful co-existence of organic, conventional and genetically modified crops for almost 30 years. We are happy to provide the same transparency for gene editing, enabling farmer and consumer choice while supporting the development of genetic innovations that can help Canada’s agriculture sector mitigate and adapt to climate change, develop new market opportunities, and remain competitive globally.

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Seeds Canada is the leading voice of the seed sector in Canada, with members including analysts, breeders, distributors, processors, seed growers and other contributors to the industry, located from coast to coast. Seed is the vital first link in the agriculture value chain, contributing over $6 billion to the economy, employing more than 63,000 Canadians, and exporting more than $700 million annually.

Media Inquiries:

Lise Newton
lnewton@seeds-canada.ca
343-777-3867

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Seeds Canada Unveils Collaborative Regulatory Model at the Rooted for Growth Conference

August 11, 2022 – Seeds Canada celebrated its first anniversary at its first in-person annual meeting in Winnipeg last month, unveiling its plan to further unify the nation’s seed industry and help reform a regulatory model that has held back Canada’s economy, weakened its supply chain, and limited the kinds of crops farmers can grow.

“We’ve made considerable progress in our first year,” said Seeds Canada President and General Manager of C&M Seeds Ellen Sparry. “Thanks for a successful event. Strengthening Canada’s supply chain is critical for our economy, our ability to feed ourselves and our ability to feed the world.”

Seeds Canada President Ellen Sparry and Executive Director Barry Senft cut the cake celebrating the organization’s first anniversary at the Rooted for Growth President’s Reception.

Amid support from its member and client bases, Seeds Canada is committing to continue working on the formulation of the Independent Standard Setting Body (ISSB), a new entity aimed at simplifying and modernizing the regulatory environment surrounding seed production, variety registration and more.

“Crop varieties and innovations are being kept from Canadian farmers under the current seed industry’s regulatory framework,” said Seeds Canada Executive Director Barry Senft. “One major multinational seed company has pulled out of Canada because of the challenges they faced getting their crop varieties to farmers.”

Seeds Canada’s Executive Director Barry Senft giving his opening remarks at the Rooted for Growth conference.

Director of Policy Lorne Hadley spoke about the ISSB to attendees on day 1 of the conference, drawing out important feedback from the membership/client base that Seeds Canada will use to improve its current model.

Seeds Canada Director of Policy Lorne Hadley unpacking the organization’s ISSB regulatory model.

The four-day conference entitled Rooted for Growth brought together hundreds of seed growers, seed companies, industry professionals and government representatives together under one roof.

Seeds Canada was formed in 2021 as an amalgamation of the Canadian Plant Technology Association, the Commercial Seed Analysts of Canada, the Canadian Seed Institute and the Canadian Seed Trade Association.

“Seed is the first link in the value chain,” said Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food in Canada Marie-Claude Bibeau during her pre-recorded welcome message. In the video address, Bibeau also mentioned the billions of dollars the seed industry contributes to the economy the vast number of Canadians it employs. She ended her welcome with congratulations and a commitment to work collaboratively with Seeds Canada.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Manager Holly Mayer also spoke at the conference, affirming the federal government’s desire to work together with the seed industry to tackle  issues like variety development. “Everything evolves,’ said Mayer, adding that investments should reflect the current role of the federal government. “AAFC’s role is evolving. The variety development model needs to evolve with it.”

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), the agency overseeing the Seed Regulatory Modernization process, addressed attendees, vowing to work together as it continues to consult stakeholders before it posts any changes to a framework that hasn’t undergone a significant overhaul in decades.

Over the week, conference attendees heard presentations from people representing all facets of the seed industry, domestic and global, with nearly every session concluding with a slate of priorities for Seeds Canada to work on in the year ahead.

“We are encouraged by your support for our efforts to improve Canada’s seed industry by creating a regulatory environment that encourages innovation, growth and stability,” said Senft. “We have already begun putting your feedback on the ISSB and other initiatives to work. It was important for us to come together on Seed Regulatory Modernization and the many other issues affecting our industry.”

Seeds Canada annual meeting attendees taking in a session on its policy initiatives.

As the national voice of the seed sector at a pivotal time for the industry, we have an enormous opportunity and responsibility. We are proud of our dedicated team of leaders, our highly skilled staff, and our membership. Our strength as an organization is the scope of our representation both geographically and across the full seed value chain.

We have developed our 2021 Year in Review as a resource to highlight the work being done by Seeds Canada staff and members. Thank you to our members for your work in getting us to where we are today. Click here to view the Seeds Canada Year in Review.

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Seeds Canada is the leading voice of the seed sector in Canada, with members including analysts, breeders, distributors, processors, seed growers and other contributors to the industry, located from coast to coast. Seed is the vital first link in the agriculture value chain, contributing over $6 billion to the economy, employing more than 63,000 Canadians, and exporting more than $700 million annually.

Media Inquiries:

Toban Dyck
tdyck@seeds-canada.ca
204-227-8875

Lise Newton
lnewton@seeds-canada.ca
343-777-3867

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Seeds Canada Celebrates Wins Made in Our First Year! 2021 Year in Review

July 26, 2022 – On February 1, 2021, we officially became Seeds Canada. Over the last year, we have worked to become the leading voice of the Canadian seed sector. We represent seed analysts and labs, breeders, distributors, growers, processors, retailers, service providers and all stakeholders along the value chain. “We are proud of our dedicated team of leaders, our highly skilled staff, and our membership for the work that has been done to get us where we are today” said Seeds Canada President, Ellen Sparry.

As the national voice of the seed sector at a pivotal time for the industry, we have an enormous opportunity and responsibility. We are proud of our dedicated team of leaders, our highly skilled staff, and our membership. Our strength as an organization is the scope of our representation both geographically and across the full seed value chain.

Now, over a year later, we have brought together the four amalgamating partners, developed a strategic plan, hosted a membership fee review, hosted virtual membership meetings, and successfully hosted our first in-person Annual Meeting in Winnipeg, Manitoba! That is to name a few of the accomplishments we have made since our formation.

We have developed our 2021 Year in Review as a resource to highlight the work being done by Seeds Canada staff and members. Click here to view the 2021 Year in Review.

While we are proud of the work we’ve done so far, “we will continue to enhance member engagement on critical issues, work with like-minded organizations, and to develop strong relationships with policymakers over the next year” stated Barry Senft, Seeds Canada Executive Director. We have been advocating on behalf of our members on key policy files such as Seed Regulatory Modernization, the VUA platform, and Midge Tolerant Wheat programming, and will continue to push policy makers on these files.

We are proud of how far we have come in our first year. As we look forward to 2022, we are committed to engaging with Seeds Canada members across Canada. If you would like to know more about becoming a Seeds Canada member, please contact Krista Erickson at kerickson@seeds-canada.ca. If you have any questions regarding our 2021 Year in Review please contact Lise Newton at lnewton@seeds-canada.ca.

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Seeds Canada is the leading voice of the seed sector in Canada, with members including analysts, breeders, distributors, processors, seed growers and other contributors to the industry, located from coast to coast. Seed is the vital first link in the agriculture value chain, contributing over $6 billion to the economy, employing more than 63,000 Canadians, and exporting more than $700 million annually.

Media Inquiries:
Co-Director of Communications Lise Newton:
 lnewton@seeds-canada.ca
Co-Director of Communications Toban Dyck:
tdyck@seeds-canada.ca

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Seeds Canada Congratulates Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG) and Limagrain Field Seeds on Groundbreaking New Partnership

July 26, 2022 – Seeds Canada would like to extend our congratulations to the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG) and Limagrain Field Seeds on the recent announcement and launch of a groundbreaking new partnership to develop pea and lentil varieties for western Canadian farmers.

From SPG, “This new partnership is SPG’s first major collaboration in a new era for pulse breeding in Saskatchewan. This new environment will encourage multiple breeding programs and a transition from a royalty-free system to growers paying for access to new varieties through royalties like they do for other crops. This new breeding collaboration will build on the success of previous breeding partnerships to deliver improved varieties for producers.”

Seeds Canada is encouraged by this partnership, which will base its operations in Saskatoon, and represents a new investment in western Canadian crop development. This is an excellent example of how forward thinking and leadership from like-minded organizations can increase innovation, competition, and farmer-choice in the marketplace.

Seeds Canada looks forward to supporting this partnership through our advocacy and member services and watching its progress in delivering improved pulse varieties. We look forward to seeing more innovative partnerships take shape in the future.

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Seeds Canada is the leading voice of the seed sector in Canada, with members including analysts, breeders, distributors, processors, seed growers and other contributors to the industry, located from coast to coast. Seed is the vital first link in the agriculture value chain, contributing over $6 billion to the economy, employing more than 63,000 Canadians, and exporting more than $700 million annually.


Media Inquiries:
Co-Director of Communications Lise Newton: lnewton@seeds-canada.ca
Co-Director of Communications Toban Dyck: tdyck@seeds-canada.ca

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Seed & Agriculture Industry Partners Host Seed Summit 2022

JANUARY 17, 2022 — The Summit, initiated by Seeds Canada and presented in collaboration with partners along the agricultural value chain, welcomes all stakeholders and users of seed to join the sessions – February 7,14, and 22 – to discuss the future of the seed regulatory system in Canada. To date, the Seed Summit 2022 partners include: Cereals Canada, Canola Council of Canada, Canadian Canola Growers Association, Canadian Horticultural Council, Western Canadian Wheat Growers, Soy Canada, Grains Farmers of Ontario, and the Ontario Agri-Business Association. Partners of the Summit agree that the conversation about regulatory change needs to include all users of the seed system.  

Canada’s seed regulatory system has not seen significant change in decades and the Seed Regulatory Modernization process is a once in a generation opportunity to influence positive change. How seed is grown, processed, and sold has changed profoundly and now is the time to ensure the regulatory framework reflects this too. It is vital that these changes reflect today’s realities and support future advancements. The Summit has been organized to help understand what those changes need to be. The discussions will help build a foundation for input and recommendations regarding what is needed by asking questions, such as: “What do growers and end users need from the seed system in Canada?”; “Is the current system supporting innovation and advancement?”; “What role should government play in the relationship between seed seller and seed buyer?”. Over the course of the three sessions, Summit attendees will  hear from a range of speakers who will delve further into these issues and open the discussion to the stakeholders and participants.

The seed sector cannot address these issues alone – nor should it as stakeholders along the value chain are all impacted by regulatory changes – which is why the Summit is encouraging all stakeholders to collaborate in helping shape the future of the seed sector and the sustainability of Canadian agriculture by ensuring we have the regulatory framework in place to do so.    

To register for the event and for more information, please visit www.seedsummit.ca.

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Seeds Canada to Move Forward with SRM Stakeholder Summit

NOV 24, 2021 – Seeds Canada has identified a need for additional input concerning stakeholder requirements for a future seed system and looks forward to initiating a Summit that would bring together all value chain participants impacted by the Seeds Regulations. 

There is broad agreement that a review of the regulatory framework is required as the last major review of the regulatory framework was completed in 1996. 

“The review, led by CFIA, is much appreciated and very much needed,” noted Ellen Sparry, Seeds Canada President. “We do, however, believe that an overall vision for the sector’s future and the producers’ needs and realities must be more clearly understood to ensure we are putting the right tools in place. What would best enable our customers and in turn, our businesses? What system would best deliver seed innovation and support advancement today and beyond? A full regulatory review is unlikely to occur again for quite some time, so we need to get this right,” added Sparry.

The intention behind the Summit would be to assess the current regulatory environment and ask stakeholders, “What do you need from a modernized seed system in Canada”. This insight will inform a Seed Regulatory Modernization Vision and the regulatory review process. Discussions will be framed around themes addressing key components of an innovative, competitive, and end-user friendly Canadian seed system. Seeds Canada will keep stakeholders apprised of Summit plans as they develop.

If you have any questions or would like to confirm your participation in this conversation, please contact Seeds Canada’s Executive Director, Barry Senft, at bsenft@seeds-canada.ca.

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Seeds Canada is the leading voice of the seed sector in Canada, with members including analysts, breeders, distributors, processors, seed growers and other contributors to the industry, located from coast to coast. Seed is the vital first link in the agriculture value chain, contributing over $6 billion to the economy, employing more than 63,000 Canadians, and exporting more than $700 million annually.

Media Inquiries:
Jessica Goodfellow
Director of Communications
jgoodfellow@seeds-canada.ca

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Looking ahead: Marketing of harvested grains for export markets

Joint message from Grain Farmers of Ontario, Ontario Agri Business Association, and Seeds Canada 

October 26, 2021 – As Ontario farmers and agri-businesses finalize harvesting activities and begin planning for the year ahead,

Grain Farmers of Ontario, the Ontario Agri Business Association and Seeds Canada remind farmers and the entire supply chain of the need for stewardship to protect market access and enable access to innovation. This includes adhering to established marketing channels for corn hybrids that have not yet received import approvals in key markets, such as the European Union (EU).

Stewardship is a shared commitment along the value chain, from seed developers to farmers to grain marketers, and is designed to address a range of issues including the lengthy process to secure trait approval in some export markets. 

All corn hybrids sold in Ontario are approved for cultivation and for use as food and feed within Canada and the U.S. The majority of corn hybrids sold in Ontario have also received import authorization in many importing countries. However, delays and uncertainty in the EU’s regulatory process present a particular challenge for Ontario’s corn value chain as both individual traits and stacked products (i.e. a combination of individual traits) require regulatory approval. As a result of these delays, trait stacks for certain corn hybrids sold in Ontario are not currently approved in the EU (see Seeds Canada’s corn hybrid database and/or company seed guides for more information).

While the majority (approx. 90%) of corn grown in Ontario is used domestically, maintaining and expanding access to export markets for both corn and processed by-products is vital for a profitable corn value chain. The EU continues to be an important and growing market for Canadian corn representing 56% of total exports sales in 2020. In 2020, seven of the top 10 export markets for Canadian corn were EU member countries. 

The regulatory status of a seed variety is an important consideration when making seed purchase decisions for the upcoming crop year. Adherence to product stewardship guidelines for non-EU approved varieties are an important step in maintaining market access to export markets. Farmers should contact their seed supplier if they are unaware or unsure of these requirements. There are marketing limitations that exist with non-EU approved varieties. If a farmer does plant non-EU approved varieties next year, they should contact their grain buyer to determine if they will be receiving harvested grains from these varieties. Farmers can continue to market corn with non-approved traits by following established stewardship requirements into appropriate channels that primarily include, but are not limited to domestic feed and ethanol markets.

Access to innovation and export markets are both vital to our sector. The supply chain supports the responsible introduction and adoption of new technologies for Ontario’s farmers, which consider regulatory approvals domestically and in key export markets which helps all participants within the agri-food value chain maintain competitiveness and profitability, manage risk, and expand market access in a competitive global marketplace. The supply chain also supports stewardship, including adherence to appropriate grain channeling, as required, so Ontario grain farmers and exporters continue to have unfettered access to key export markets.

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Grain Farmers of Ontario is the province’s largest commodity organization, representing Ontario’s 28,000 barley, corn, oat, soybean and wheat farmers. The crops they grow cover over 6 million acres of farm land across the province, generate over $4.1 billion in production value, result in over $18 billion in economic output and are responsible for over 75,000 jobs in the province.

Ontario Agri Business Association is a voluntary, not-for-profit trade association that represents the interests of over 450 members who operate country and terminal grain elevators, feed manufacturing facilities, crop input supply and affiliated businesses throughout the province of Ontario. OABA members generate in excess of $12 billion in annual sales and represent over 20,000 full and part time/seasonal jobs within the agri-food industry.

Seeds Canada is the leading voice of the seed sector in Canada, with members including analysts, breeders, distributors, processors, seed growers and other contributors to the industry, located from coast to coast. Seed is the vital first link in the agriculture value chain, contributing over $6 billion to the economy, employing more than 63,000 Canadians, and exporting more than $700 million annually. 

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Seeds Canada Congratulates Liberal Government on its Return to Office

OTTAWA, SEPTEMBER 22 – Seeds Canada would like to congratulate Prime Minister Trudeau and the Liberal party on its re-election.

“The Canadian seed sector is a key driver of our country’s economic growth and a significant source for food security and climate change mitigation solutions. Continued investment, research, and a proper regulatory framework should be a key priority for the new government,” said Seeds Canada President Ellen Sparry. “It all starts with seed, and quality seed and varieties are a vital resource for the challenges we face today. We look forward to working with the Liberal party – and all decision makers – to help Canada’s seed sector thrive for the benefit of all Canadians,” noted Sparry.

Sparry added that “Farmers, seed growers, analysts, breeders, distributors, processors and all those along the seed value chain are calling on decision makers to prioritize and maximize the potential of the seed sector as an economic driver and partner in climate change solutions.”

Seeds Canada will be continuing its conversations with decision makers across all federal parties on priority items for the sector, ranging from seed regulatory modernization and plant breeding rights to climate change mitigation and technological advancements for environmental sustainability.

Seeds Canada is the leading voice of the seed sector in Canada, with members including analysts, breeders, distributors, processors, seed growers and other contributors to the industry, located from coast to coast. Seed is the vital first link in the agriculture value chain, contributing over $6 billion to the economy, employing more than 63,000 Canadians, and exporting more than $700 million annually.

For more information:
Jessica Goodfellow
Director of Communications
jgoodfellow@seeds-canada.ca

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Seed Industry Comes Together at Seeds Canada’s Inaugural Annual Meeting

JULY 16, 2021 – The 2021 Seeds Canada Annual Meeting, hosted virtually from July 9-16, brought together seed industry members, stakeholders, and government representatives from across the country to discuss a range of policy priorities and issues impacting the sector.

This event also marked the organization’s inaugural Annual Meeting, following its launch in February of this year. “The strength of an industry coming together was on display at this meeting. Having representation from across the seed value chain under one roof – as shown at this meeting and going forward as Seeds Canada – will make us a stronger partner able to offer policy direction and member and client services from a broader base of understanding and resources,” said Seeds Canada President, Ellen Sparry.

The Welcome Session featured an address from CFIA President, Dr. Siddika Mithani, who spoke to the Seed Regulatory Modernization process, noting the Agency’s commitment to a full-scale review and openness to substantial change. Dr. Mithani also provided clarity on CFIA’s approach to Novel Products of Biotechnology. She acknowledged the need for innovators to have a clear path to market and clear regulatory guidance. Dr. Mithani noted the various joint opportunities and challenges facing the sector – from climate change mitigation efforts to the effective use of digitized information – and called for continued close collaboration between CFIA and Seeds Canada.

The meeting’s attendees also heard from Keynote speaker, New York Times bestselling author, Dr. JP Pawliw-Fry who spoke to change management and relationship building. Kendal Netmaker also addressed the meeting and spoke from an Indigenous persons worldview about his experiences and incorporating diversity and inclusion in the workplace and day-to-day life.

Seeds Canada’s work – whether it be policy or operational – is largely funnelled through various committees. All committees met as part of the Annual Meeting Proceedings. For more information about Seeds Canada committees, please contact Claudio Feulner or Krista Erickson.

In addition to these committees, the Annual Meeting also hosted a Seed Testing Workshop and Open Forum, a Meet and Greet with new Executive Director, Barry Senft, and a Closing Reception.

“We have a busy year ahead, but we have tremendous momentum and dedicated members and partners. Let’s harness that energy as we move the discussions had at this meeting forward into action and progress,” said Barry Senft, Seeds Canada Executive Director. “In the coming months, we will be undergoing a strategic planning process, and we look forward to your continued engagement.”

This event would not be possible without the generous support of our meeting sponsors, thank you.

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For more information:
Jessica Goodfellow
Director of Communications
jgoodfellow@seeds-canada.ca

Seeds Canada is the leading voice of the seed sector in Canada, with members including analysts, breeders, distributors, processors, seed growers and other contributors to the industry, located from coast to coast. Seed is the vital first link in the agriculture value chain, contributing over $6 billion to the economy, employing more than 63,000 Canadians, and exporting more than $700 million annually.