Amalgamations still possible for national seed groups

The organizations have been working on the potential merger for four years

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Canada’s largest seed industry organizations continue to explore amalgamations.

Officials from the Canadian Seed Growers Association (CSGA) and the Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA) have contemplated a merger for some time.

The proposed amalgamation, a key element of a larger initiative known as Seed Synergy, would also include the Canadian Plant Technology Agency (CPTA), the Canadian Seed Institute (CSI) and the Commercial Seed Analysts Association of Canada (CSAAC).

Why it matters: Stakeholders in the seed industry could deliver a more cohesive message and become more focused and efficient by amalgamating several agencies into one.

In a recent interview, outgoing CSTA president Todd Hyra said an amalgamation that involves all the major organizations in the Canadian seed sector would enable the seed industry to speak with a unified voice and pursue industry objectives in a more efficient and directed manner.

It would also allow the seed industry to serve its customers and members more effectively, he said.

“We have had some organizations that have been around for 100 years, 100 years-plus in some cases, and they’ve worked very well but we’ve now reached the point where if we want to continue to serve our customers and our members into the next 20, 30, 50 years, we need to have a new system.

“It’s like building that new high-capacity seed plant that will allow our customers to be served more efficiently, more cost effectively and will position our industry for the future.”

Creating a unified organization with a national mandate could eliminate duplication, streamline operations, and set the Canadian seed sector on a new path. A unified group could speak with one voice on important issues such as the regulatory modernization, varietal registration and the use of new technologies in seed breeding and varietal development.

Initial discussions on a possible organizational merger began about four years ago.

Most recently, the five organizations involved in merger talks have contracted Toronto consulting firm Strategy Corp. to add details on key components of the plan.

Among other things, Strategy Corp.’s experts will help to design the entity’s organizational structure and establish the parameters for a new governance model.

The objective is to have a detailed proposal prepared by next July.

“Our goal over the next year is to move to the point where we have essentially built a model that everyone can look at, understand how it’s going to impact them and decide to move forward with the final stages of forming a new organization,” Hyra said.

Although work aimed at formalizing a merger has been ongoing for some time, some seed growers attending a joint CSTA-CSGA meeting in Whistler, B.C., expressed apprehension about the plan.

Some suggested the interests of pedigreed seed growers at the CSGA may not always align with the interests of large seed development companies and other industry groups that make up the CSTA.

However, the organizations will continue to work toward a merger.

Officials at the CSGA said approval of provincial seed growers groups will be sought before any merger is completed.

Once a model is developed by Strategy Corp and unveiled in mid-2020, provincial branches of the CSGA will bring the plan back to their boards and general memberships for consideration and potential endorsement.

The CSGA represents the interests of about 3,500 seed growers, who produce pedigreed seed on about 1.3 million acres annually across Canada.

The CSTA represents a variety of organizations in the commercial seed trade, ranging from pedigreed seed growers and retailers to large multinational seed companies involved in seed trait development, varietal development and commercialization.

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