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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.