Seed Industry Works to Break Down “Silos” in Final Hours of Seeds Canada Voting

- Corn seed

The following piece is from our sister publication, Germination.

With tomorrow being the final opportunity for Canadian Seed Growers’ Association (CSGA) members to vote on the proposed merger of the industry’s five seed associations, Mike Shewchuk is concerned about what he feels seed growers will lose if they opt out of the merger.

In recent days he says he’s spoken with seed growers who have questions about the merger and are wondering how they should vote.

“It does bother me that there’s a lot of misinformation regarding what some people wrongly see as a multinational takeover. There’s a lot of opportunity with Seeds Canada and it would be sad to miss that if the vote goes against it,” says the vice-president of the Saskatchewan Seed Growers’ Association (SSGA).

Advance voting for CSGA members closes today, while they will have one more chance to cast a vote tomorrow during the CSGA special member meeting scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. CDT.

The CSGA recently held numerous online town hall meetings concerning the proposed amalgamation of the CSGA, Canadian Seed Trade Association, Canadian Seed Institute, Canadian Plant Technology Agency (CPTA) and Commercial Seed Analysts Association of Canada.

While the CSGA national board endorsed the merger, not all provincial seed grower boards have done so.

“We never had consensus on our board and decided it would be best to speak our own opinions rather than be held to a board policy,” says Shewchuk.

“That’s the nature of seed growers, we’re pretty detail oriented and it’s hard to get people to stand behind something when there is a divide. Some of us are more blue sky thinkers who see the opportunity while others focus on risks. If seed growers are going to stay in their own silo it’s hard to see how we’ll make progress. Working together is the only way we can move into the future.”

Those proverbial “silos” are a problem that has frustrated Lorne Hadley, executive director of the Canadian Plant Technology Agency.

“The positive impact of a silo is that all the grain in the silo stays pure. In some ways we have kept these organizations in different silos so they can have, for lack of a better term, ‘pure’ discussions where we don’t worry about what others are saying, we just worry about our own silo,” Hadley says.

“The problem is that inside a silo you can’t see what is going on in the next silo. Even though grain companies and processors use silos, when they make a product for the market they pull a little from this silo and that silo to find out what works well together. We do that in seed, too — take from each silo to make something customers want to buy. Seeds Canada is an opportunity to break down silos and move forward together without losing anything.”

Two-thirds of votes cast by members of each of the five organizations must be in favour of the amalgamation for it to proceed, notes a recent mailing from the Alberta Seed Growers. The other four associations have already completed their voting, with results to be announced tomorrow after the CSGA special member meeting.

The meeting is open to all seed industry stakeholders. Meeting info is online at https://seedgrowers.ca/calendar/aug27-2020-sgm/.