The following Op-Ed piece was provided by the National Farmers’ Union’s Terry Boehm.
OPINION – Thursday, Aug. 27 was the last day of the six-week online voting period where members of the 3,500-member Canadian Seed Growers Association (CSGA) decided whether to dissolve their organization in support of the Seeds Canada initiative promoted by the Seed Synergy collaboration.
A two-thirds majority was required to adopt the change. When CSGA members’ votes were tallied the answer was no – 55 per cent rejected the proposal.
The National Farmers Union (NFU) thanks their fellow farmers who are pedigreed seed growers for standing up for self-determination and independence. This strong statement of confidence in the ability and need for seed growers to manage their sector and maintain their own democratic voice is inspiring.
Grain farmers rely on Canada’s seed growers to provide high-quality pedigreed seed at fair prices. The rejected Seeds Canada proposal would have eliminated the seed growers’ independent collective voice by setting up a governance structure and fee schedule designed to exclude independent seed growers over time. In this historic vote, the CSGA members have shown that the farmers who grow pedigreed seed and have the skills and experience to deliver the quality Canadian farmers need and want, must be the voice of Canada’s seed growers.
The members of the four other groups in the Seed Synergy collaboration, the Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA); Canadian Seed Institute (CSI); Commercial Seed Analysts Association of Canada (CSAAC); and the Canadian Plant Technology Agency (CPTA), voted in favour of the Seeds Canada proposal. The CSTA is dominated by the large multinational seed corporations. Four of these companies – Bayer, Corteva Agriscience, ChemChina, and Limagrain – control more than 66 per cent of the worldwide seed trade. Many of the members of the smaller organizations – CSI, CSAAC and CPTA – are their employees, clients, service providers and enforcement agents. According to their published business plan, the proponents of Seeds Canada intended it to lobby for changes to Canada’s seed regulations in partnership with CropLife Canada.
The CSGA’s independence is critical, as the interests of the other four organizations are not identical to those of seed growers. When it makes sense, the CSGA can still cooperate with these other organizations without all of them being under the same organizational roof.
Again, the NFU thanks Canada’s seed growers for voting to keep their organization and maintain its democratic control in the hands of farmer members. As the CSGA goes forward in accordance with the vote, we look forward to learning more about plans and vision for the organization.