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Eighth meeting of the Seed Sector Value Chain Roundtable: Record of decision

March 27 to 28, 2017 – Ottawa, Ontario

Opening remarks

  • Co-chairs welcomed approximately 53 participants including Jérémie Letellier and Annie Bergeron, two youth representatives. There were also nine other people introduced as replacements for previous members.
  • The Government Co-Chair provided updates on several federal government initiatives, such as Canada's commitment to ratify the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA); continued collaboration with the new United States (US) administration in relation to agricultural products; and initial details regarding Budget 2017. The release of the 2017 Advisory Council on Economic Growth's report, entitled Unleashing the Growth Potential of Key Sectors (the Barton report), was also noted.

All chairs

  • Preparation for the upcoming All Chairs meeting (April 26 to 27, 2017) continues, including development of industry-led presentations capturing industry's current efforts related to climate change and sustainability.
  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) noted that official responses to the Regulatory Sub-Committee's final report have been received from Health Canada, Canadian Grain Commission (CGC), and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA); they were shared with the Roundtables in January 2017.
  • The Business Data Working Group's (WG) final report was sent to data service providers (that is, AAFC, Statistics Canada, CGC, and CFIA); and submitted as input towards AAFC's Next Agricultural Policy Framework (NPF).

Seed synergy update

  • The industry-led initiative continues its efforts to achieve greater synergy in the Canadian seed sector, including the development of a next generation seed system with a possible public-private partnership.
  • Consultations led by Seed Synergy are being held to shape this new system (began fall 2016 and continue until summer 2018). The initial vision based on the first round of consultations was shared, including the new system's characteristics and function. The vision will be revised as consultations continue.
  • Discussion focused on the first round of consultations that engaged members of the six industry organizations leading the initiative. There was consensus on the need for change and the desired main characteristics of the new system. Initial focus centres on function of the new system; organizational form to be discussed afterwards. There was a strong recognition of respecting resource allocation by all government and industry stakeholders involved when designing this new system.
  • It clarified that this new system is broader than the CFIA's seed regulatory modernization efforts. CFIA noted that is open to discussion; however, the timing of its seed regulatory modernization is unclear. Industry was encouraged to continue developing its vision as the eventual time frame will be short to provide input towards the Agency's modernization efforts.

Value creation Working Group update

  • Comprised of members from the Grains Roundtable and Seed Sector Value Chain Roundtable, the WG continues its efforts to develop a value creation model that ensures sustainable investments for cereal breeding programs.
  • Although the Value Creation WG's consultations seeking input towards this model are focused on grain growers and companies, subsequent discussion focused on the seed sector's unique perspective that needs to be provided. This input will be provided by Value Creation WG members who specifically represent the seed industry.
  • There is great value in having regulators fully engaged as they can help support the resulting model given CFIA's role in variety registration and plant breeders' rights.
  • A value proposition should be diligently created to help gain traction for moving this model forward. Stakeholders that will pay into this model need to be properly consulted, and background information on certified seed should be given to ensure informed input.
  • It was appreciated that the WG had considered international models, including efforts by the International Seed Federation in relation to global value capture systems for wheat.

Canadian journey to public trust update

  • The update focused on activities since the initiative published its Building Public Trust report, including details about its structure and governance; and suggestions for each value chain.
  • AAFC also provided an update on its activities. Public trust is a key priority within the NPF. A pilot project is underway with the Grains Roundtable intended to identify the sector's needs and readiness with regard to public trust; and to provide recommendations for moving forward.
  • Discussion focused on the seed sector's leadership role despite not being a direct consumer good. The seed sector is part of broader crop sector and a successful approach involves the whole value chain. The development of genetically engineered varieties is a key public trust issue for the seed sector.
  • Discussion also addressed public trust issues related to agriculture more broadly. There is a need to focus on public trust issues globally given Canada is a net exporter of food products; however, the Canadian Journey to Public Trust initiative is focused on developing a domestic approach first. The development and promotion of production codes of practices is important, especially when helping to arm retailers reconciling market demands, shareholder demands, and producers' reality. In 2016, the beef sector used this approach to successfully defend its practices when challenged by a restaurateur that was responding to consumer misperceptions.
  • It was felt that consumer engagement requires unity and consistency; the majority of consumers are undecided in their views. Alignment of certification systems and other related systems is required. Government also plays an important role in terms of promoting regulatory systems.

Industry-Government Working Group on seed update

  • CFIA and the Canadian Seed Growers' Association (CSGA) provided an update on implementing alternative service delivery for seed crop inspections. Industry continues to be pleased with the progress.
  • The CSGA also outlined the future direction for Circular 6, the document that sets out production procedures and crop standards for certified seeds.
    • Discussion focused on the need to annually register as a CSGA member in order to grow certified seeds, including bulk applications for companies working with contracted seed growers.

User fees Working Group update

  • CFIA outlined its Phase one consultations in relation to its cost recovery initiative that will close on April 21, 2017. In addition to an online survey, there are seven open-ended questions directed to industry.
  • This Roundtable established a User Fee WG to support industry in developing its consultation response; the WG Chair shared the WG's Terms of Reference. He also sought feedback on initial thoughts on the consultation questions to help the WG finalize the collective response on behalf of industry.
  • Discussion focused on the fee to be charged; however, industry will be consulted on those details during Phase two of the consultation to be held in future. Alternative service delivery for seed crop inspections can serve as a model in setting those fees. The US Department of Agriculture's Agriculture Marketing Service can also serve as a model and international benchmark; it provides detailed information (for example, fee formula for overhead costs).

Incorporation by reference

  • The CFIA provided a brief overview of the Agency's policy on Incorporation by Reference (IBR) and some initial experiences applying it to the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations.
  • This Roundtable established an IBR WG to explore and understand the potential use of IBR in the context of seed program modernization; the WG Chair shared the WG's Terms of Reference.
  • Discussion focused on how IBR can be used and how it can enable faster changes to regulations. Each application of IBR is considered case-by-case by the Department of Justice as the regulations must still be stringent and government must still provide oversight.
  • Using ambulatory IBR allows flexibility as it is understood that that incorporated documents will change from time to time without any regulatory amendments required. However, government can remove this flexibility if the rules are not observed.
  • The WG will provide its perspectives on how IBR could be applied to certain elements of the Seeds Regulations; it is expected that any approved uses of IBR would be applied simultaneously as part of the CFIA's seed program modernization efforts rather than one-at-a-time.
  • There are challenges with interpretation between English and French versions of regulations; this can be an even larger challenge when the documents are managed by a third party rather than CFIA.

Science and Technology Branch's current/future investments

  • AAFC outlined its current research investments, including those specific to seed, and sought feedback from industry regarding its future investments.
  • Discussion focused on existing partnerships, including those with private investment. Value creation is an important issue when discussing future investment. Several sectors are actively developing cluster applications for funding under the NPF; this sector was encouraged to consider applying.

Low Level Presence

  • The WG Chair shared the WG's updated Terms of Reference as it will take on more of a monitoring role moving forward. It will also update its Environmental Scan to be circulated to industry as a backgrounder.
  • AAFC also provided an update on the Low Level Presence (LLP) in Grain Policy and Framework and spoke about the reaction to its release in fall 2016.
  • Discussion focused on the compliance threshold level of 3 percent set for LLP in grain. Other policies have set it at 5 percent; there has been international debate as to which percentage is more appropriate. Regardless of the level set, there are questions about how to ensure compliance at any set level and what frequency of testing should be implemented (that is, risk-based or random). For sweet corn sold in the US, the indirect threshold is 0 per cent as industry has declared Idaho as "genetically modified organism-free" state in response to consumer demand.
  • There was also broader discussion on the issue in the sense that there is little movement with regard to LLP in seed as the current focus remains on LLP in grain within international discussions. However, industry was pleased to hear government speak of the issue in context of trade facilitation rather than being food safety. With regard to CETA, there is no direct link between it and this issue as each country can set its own health and safety rules. However, there is a biotechnology-focused dialogue forum as part of the agreement to allow for alignment between both countries.

Use of variety names Working Group update

  • The WG Chair shared the Terms of Reference for Phase two of this WG that will focus on capturing and summarizing industry's perspective on the necessity and feasibility of aligning the use of variety names between the "Seeds Act" and the "Canada Grain Act". The WG will share its final summary at the next Roundtable meeting.

Roundtable's Strategic Plan

  • In reviewing the Strategic Plan, a number of changes/comments were made. They are noted below.
  • Benchmarking Needs/Understanding of certified seed: moved to an emerging high priority.
  • Seed Program Modernization: given that it is one element of the next generation seed system, it is strategic to await the results of Seed Synergy initiative before determining the next steps (in the meantime, three of the Roundtable's WGs continue to make contributions in related areas).
  • Technology Value Creation: moved to a current priority.
  • Grower compensation in relation to the Weed Seed Order: added as a new emerging high priority and CFIA's Plant and Animal Health Strategy consultation was identified as a possible venue for discussion.
  • Professional development: added as a new emerging high priority (CSGA currently focused on growers; in future, could include other stakeholders as well).
  • Regulation of products of modern plant breeding (including new breeding technologies, such as gene editing): consider value of being its own priority rather than be part of seed program modernization.
    • Given activities being undertaken by other forums, there is a need to define a strategic role for this Roundtable given membership consists of industry and government.
  • Generic marketplace products: discuss value of adding this issue as a priority.
  • The Executive Steering Committee will finalize updating the Strategic Plan.

Neonicotinoids update

  • The Pest Management Regulatory Agency provided an update on its ongoing reviews of these products; and the Canadian Seed Trade Association provided an update on the Multi-Stakeholder Forum for Neonicotinoids.
  • Discussion focused on how the issue is being addressed in the US compared to Canada. US Environmental Protection Agency has identified many of the same issues, but has yet to publish its risk management approaches. In Canada, there are efforts to identify the source in the environment that is causing the issue so the risk can be better mitigated.

National strategy for plant and animal health

  • CFIA shared its draft strategy; industry was encouraged to provide feedback (no deadline was specified).

Conclusion

  • AAFC will discuss the feasibility of holding two Roundtable meetings per year with the Executive Steering Committee. Next meeting will be scheduled in the coming months based on the resulting decision.
  • Refer to Annex A for action items generated; and Annex B for list of participants.

Annex A

List of action items

Strategic Plan

Action item 1:
By May 2017, the Roundtable's Executive Steering Committee will finalize the update of the Strategic Plan based on discussions held at the March meeting.

User fees

Action item 2:
By April 21, 2017, the User Fee Working Group (WG) will finalize industry's response to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) cost-recovery initiative consultation. In advance of the submission, a draft will be circulated via email to the Roundtable for any final comments.

Technology value capture

Action item 3:
Immediately following the meeting, the Roundtable will receive a copy of the agenda for the Value Creation WG's spring 2017 consultations.

Action item 4:
Roundtable industry members will provide the seed sector's perspective at the Value Creation WG consultations scheduled to be held between March 31 and April 7, 2017.

Action item 5:
Once available, the Roundtable will receive a copy of the document summarizing the Value Creation WG spring 2017 consultations.

Action item 6:
Through membership of the Value Creation WG, industry members will continue providing the seed sector's perspective on the final model that ensures sustainable investments for cereal breeding programs as it is developed during summer 2017.

Action item 7:
By fall 2017, the Roundtable will review the Value Creation WG's final recommendation on a model that ensures sustainable investments for cereal breeding programs.

Low Level Presence in seed

Action item 8:
By June 2017, the LLP in Seed WG will update its Environmental Scan originally developed in 2014. It will be circulated to industry as a background document.

Use of variety names – phase two

Action item 9:
By fall 2017, the Use of Variety Names WG will capture industry's perspective on the necessity and feasibility of aligning the use of variety names between the "Seeds Act" and "Canada Grain Act" to inform the CFIA's future seed regulatory modernization consultation process.

Action item 10:
At the next Roundtable meeting, the Use of Variety Names WG will share its final summary of industry's main perspectives on the necessity and feasibility of aligning the use of variety names between the "Seeds Act" and "Canada Grain Act" to inform the CFIA's future seed regulatory modernization consultation process.

Annex B

Participant list

Co-chairs

  • Jeff Reid – SeCan
  • Steve Lavergne – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)

Industry members

  • Pierre Brault – Servisem
  • Deb Hart – Canadian Potato Council
  • Jeff Loessin – Dow (retailer/seed distributor)
  • Glyn Chancey – Canadian Seed Growers' Association (CSGA)
  • Mike Scheffel – CSGA
  • Kevin Runnals – CSGA
  • Wayne Gale – Stokes Seeds
  • Ian Affleck – CropLife Canada
  • Crosby Devitt – Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA)
  • Roy van Wyk – Canadian Seed Institute
  • Delaney Ross Burtnack – Canadian Association of Agri-Retailers (via webconference)
  • Krista Erickson – Commercial Seeds Analysts Association of Canada (CSAAC)
  • Mary Ellen Van Zelst – CSAAC
  • Todd Hyra – SeCan (via webconference)
  • Lorne Hadley – Canadian Plant Technology Agency
  • Annie Bergeron – Les Grains Semitech
  • Jérémie Letellier – Ferme Letellier
  • Richard Kieper – Paterson Grain/Western Grain Elevators Association (via webconference)
  • Helen Booker – University of Saskatchewan (via webconference)

Provincial Government members

  • Mark MacNaughton – Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
  • Hugh Berges – Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (via webconference)
  • Djiby Bocar Sall – Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation du Québec (via webconference)

Federal Government members

  • Wendy Jahn – CFIA
  • David Bailey – CFIA
  • Laura Anderson – Canadian Grain Commission
  • Jennifer Fellows – Global Affairs Canada

Federal Government observers

  • Joynal Abedin – AAFC
  • Johanne Kristjanson – AAFC
  • Wendy Shearer – CFIA
  • Chris Vickers – CFIA
  • Cindy Pearson – CFIA (via webconference)
  • Willy Drost – CFIA (via webconference)
  • Anita Gilmer – CFIA (via webconference)
  • Anthony Parker – CFIA (via webconference)
  • Nyssa McLeod – AAFC (via webconference)

Guests / Speakers

  • Marie-Claude Tardif – CFIA
  • Émilie Bergeron – AAFC (via webconference)
  • Lindsay Hanson – Pest Management Regulatory Agency
  • Jaimie Schnell – CFIA
  • Julie Hartleib – CFIA
  • Jason Baillargeon – AAFC
  • Liz Foster – AAFC
  • Kim McConnell – Canadian Journey to Public Trust (via webconference)

Federal support

  • Liz Gomes – AAFC
  • Austin Mowat – AAFC
  • Tony McDougall – AAFC
  • Stephen Desroches – AAFC
  • Ron Gerold – AAFC

Industry observers

  • Erin Armstrong – Canterra Seeds
  • Marie-Eve LeVert – USC Canada
  • Jennifer Hubert – Syngenta
  • Drew Black – Canadian Federation of Agriculture
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