Alberta Seed Growers Host 2016 Inter-Provincials

From Nov. 2-4, 2016, six of the seven branches of the Canadian Seed Growers gathered in Banff, Alta., for the 2016 CSGA Inter-Provincial meeting. Their mission — to move the industry forward. The issues at stake drew participation from beyond the Prairie branches — in fact, the entire seed industry sent their key leaders.

The stage was set with three major topics over the course of various sessions: Seed Synergy, the CSGA Strategic Plan and Circular 6. We had a room full of branch and national board members, along with representatives from all aspects of seed industry, and everyone contributed to the discussion. The level of participation and the creativity of ideas was impressive.

Seed Synergy is the collaboration of seed industry leadership to create a national next-generation seed system. The organizations represented include CSGA, the Canadian Seed Trade Association, Canadian Seed Institute, Canadian Plant Technology Agency, Commercial Seed Analysts Association, and CropLife Canada. Together they desire a strong, competitive and profitable sector that attracts research and investment in innovation and that is valued for it significant contribution to society.

It must also be a system, it was agreed, that meets the needs of all stakeholders — from farmers to plant breeders, seed growers, marketers, end users, government and society. The scope of the Seed Synergy project is to establish the role of each organization in the seed system, and to examine the regulatory framework. Meeting participants were asked, “If we could build a next-generation seed regulatory system from scratch, what would it look like?” Consultation with industry will continue and members of the Alberta Seed Growers will have the opportunity to contribute their ideas.

Next on the agenda was a discussion on the modernization of Circular 6. To start us off, Mike Scheffel, managing director of policy and standards for CSGA, provided a history of the standards for crop purity, including both general and crop-specific regulations. A couple of the regulations from 1949 drew a reaction from the audience — machinery could be used to clean seed, and not just for different crop kinds, but for noxious and other weeds too!

A discussion panel regarding Circular 6 was next: Roy Klym, president of the Saskatchewan Seed Growers’ Association; Richard Stamp, national director of the Alberta Seed Growers; and Dr. Rob Graf, research scientist, AAFC, and adviser to the Alberta Seed Growers. The panel suggested that Circular 6 imposes restrictions on seed production that do not meet the needs of growers today. Even the language is difficult to interpret, it was said. It was suggested that Circular 6 would be ideal if it was updated, made more crop- and variety-specific, and formatted for mobile viewing online.