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

February 20 to 21, 2018 – Winnipeg, Manitoba

Key Decision Points

  • SSVCRT industry co-chair to jointly issue a letter with Grains Roundtable industry co-chair to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Minister, cc Health Minister, concerning the need for government resources related to plant breeding innovations.
  • An increased focus on emerging technologies is to be reflected in the Seed Sector Strategic Plan.

A full listing of action items can be found in Annex A.

Opening remarks

  • Industry and government co-chairs welcomed approximately 41 participants, including a youth representative as well as federal and provincial officials.
  • Action items from the March 2017 meeting were reviewed, noting that the majority have been completed.

Ongoing Trade Negotiations

  • AAFC provided an update on the current North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations, which are entering the seventh round of negotiations. Particular interest was expressed on how regulatory cooperation might be advanced under the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), in relation to plant biotechnology.

Public Trust Steering Committee

  • Industry members put forth suggestions for communication tools and educational material to help contribute to the broader engagement process.

Canadian Agriculture Partnership (CAP)

  • Details of the six federal programs under the CAP were shared. CAP is a five year (2018-2023), $3 billion investment in strategic initiatives for the agriculture and agri-food sector. It builds on previous investment while introducing new programs and activities.

Plant Breeding Innovation (PBI)

  • Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) presented an overview of the revisions to Directive 94-08 (Assessment Criteria for Determining Environmental Safety of Plants with Novel Traits). This updated directive includes administrative changes (streamlined text and reduced redundancy) and revisions related to stewardship plans (adding disease resistance) and modernized information requirements for Plants with Novel Traits (PNT). New field trial data will not be required for PNTs that are similar to previously authorized PNTs. The Plant Biosafety Office encourages proponents to arrange a meeting to discuss whether their PNT would qualify as similar. Changes to take effect in June 2018. Industry was optimistic that these changes could help expedite approval of PBI.
  • AAFC provided international context as to how PBI may be regulated in major producing and importing jurisdictions. Global regulatory approaches vary, which presents challenges such as trade considerations. International discussions are taking place to seek opportunities for alignment.
  • Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA) shared their communications messaging which highlights plant breeding.
  • Canada Grains Council (CGC) explained how a global regulatory direction for PBI is starting to emerge. Many countries are considering how PBI should be regulated. Industry has requested a review of Canadian regulatory policies and a whole-of-government commitment to support the introduction of PBI. This will also be discussed at the upcoming Grains Roundtable meeting.
  • The SSVCRT endorsed issuing a joint letter from industry co-chairs of the Seed and Grains Roundtables to AAFC's Minister requesting that government place increased priority on modernization of the current oversight system for plant breeding innovations.

Agri-Food Economic Strategy Table (EST)

  • SSVCRT members put forth their ideas for top opportunities and challenges facing the seed sector, based on five themes: infrastructure and regulation; innovation and value-added; technology and digitization; market access and export growth; labour and skills. A broad range of ideas was received. AAFC to review the input and compile a short list of cross-sectorial issues for review by the Seed Sector Executive Steering Committee and input to the ESTs.

Update of the Seed Sector Profile

  • AAFC presented an analysis of public investment into agricultural research and development, including all projects that directly support plant breeding programs.
  • It was agreed that the Seed Sector Profile Working Group will reconvene to update the 2014 Seed Sector Profile and report back the SSVCRT with an updated report.

Value Creation

  • Pre-consultations are ongoing, with particular efforts being made to reach producers. There is confusion with the terminology: end point royalty (EPR) vs checkoff systems. EPR is a royalty collected on harvested material of registered varieties at points of delivery.
  • Industry is waiting to hear from AAFC on their path forward. In the event of an engagement process, the Roundtable will seek the opportunity to provide input to the consultations.

Incorporation by Reference (IBR)

  • The Working Group chair summarized options on how IBR could be applied to certain elements of the Seeds Regulations. Further advancement of these, or other options, may tie in with the Seed Synergy White Paper.
  • The IBR Working Group will continue to draft options and report back to the SSVCRT.

Seed Synergy Collaboration Project

  • An overview of the Seed Synergy Collaboration Project's "Seed Synergy Green Paper" was presented, outlining the first draft of their actionable vision for the next generation seed system. Proposed ideas continue to be shared through various forms of engagement. The goal is to transform the final vision into a "Seed Synergy White Paper" by spring/summer 2018.
  • Included in the Seed Synergy proposal are preliminary ideas surrounding an integrated, single window concept to access information by industry stakeholders and to interact with regulatory service providers. By harmonizing the different industry databases, data collection and infrastructure would be streamlined. In addition, traceability could be enhanced through the use of emerging technologies such as block chain. The SSVCRT will maintain an ongoing dialogue with the Seed Synergy Collaboration Project in order to examine how it can support the development of the single window concept.

Working Group updates

  • Use of Variety Names Working Group
    • A draft Pros/Cons list summarizing the necessity and feasibility of aligning the use of variety names between the "Seeds Act and Canada Grain Act" was reviewed. The working group agreed to place a hold on further advancement of this list pending developments from the Seed Synergy Collaboration Project.
  • Low Level Presence (LLP) in Seed Working Group
    • The Environmental Scan is in draft form. The Working Group chair will confer with international colleagues to determine whether there have been trade disruptions related to seeds and report back to the SSVCRT. Also, the Grain LLP policy model is to be reviewed for guiding principles. The Working Group recognizes the benefit of moving ahead on LLP in seed policy development however, it will depend on the outcome of discussions at the international level.

Roundtable Strategic Plan Update

  • A review of the Strategic Plan resulted in the following changes:
    • Technology enablement – added as a current priority
    • Regulatory Modernization – completed
    • Grower Compensation – consultation has been completed, implementation is ongoing
    • Plant Breeding Priorities – moved from medium to current priority.

Closing Remarks / Adjourn

  • Next face-to-face Roundtable meeting will tentatively be held in February 2019.
  • Refer to Annex A for action items generated; and Annex B for list of participants.

Annex A

List of action items

List of action items with description, responsibility and timeline.
Meeting / Item # Description Responsibility Timeline
9-1
  1. Low Level Presence (LLP) in Seed Working Group will update its Environmental Scan.
  2. CSTA will provide feedback on the international perspectives of LLP in "Seed Policy".
LLP WG June 2018
9-2 SSVCRT industry co-chair to jointly issue a letter with Grains roundtable industry co-chair to AAFC Minister, cc Health Minister, concerning the need for government resources related to plant breeding innovations. Industry Completed
9-3 Seed Sector Profile (SSP) Working Group will reconvene to update the 2014 Seed Sector Profile and report back to the SSVCRT. SSP WG February 2019
9-4 The Incorporation by Reference (IBR) Working Group will continue to draft recommendations and report back to the SSVCRT. IBR WG September 2018
9-5 In the event of an AAFC Value Creation engagement process, SSVCRT will seek the opportunity to provide input to AAFC. SSVCRT Ongoing
9-6 AAFC will compile SSVCRT input for the Agri-Food Economic Strategy Table to be reviewed by the Executive Steering Committee. AAFC Completed
9-7 SSVCRT will maintain an ongoing dialogue with the Seed Synergy Collaboration Project in order to examine how to support the development of the “single window” concept. Industry Ongoing
9-8 AAFC will seek clarity from Employment and Social Development Canada on the National Commodity List and the process for the addition and removal of commodities from the list. AAFC August 2018

Annex B

Participant list

Co-chairs

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

Industry members

  • Dave Carey, Canadian Seed Trade Association
  • Deb Hart, Canadian Potato Council
  • Keith Kuhl, Canadian Horticulture Council
  • Glyn Chancey, Canadian Seed Growers' Association (CSGA)
  • Mike Scheffel, CSGA
  • Walter Smith, Smith Family Farm
  • Wayne Gale, Stokes Seeds
  • Ian Affleck, CropLife Canada
  • Crosby Devitt, Grain Farmers of Ontario
  • Roy van Wyk, Canadian Seed Institute
  • Mitch Rezansoff, Canadian Association of Agri-Retailers
  • Krista Erickson, Commercial Seeds Analysts
  • Karen Churchill, Cereals Canada (via webconference)
  • Todd Hyra, SeCan
  • Lorne Hadley, Canadian Plant Technology Agency
  • Krista Thomas, Canada Grains Council
  • Marie-Eve LeVert, Unitarian Services Committee (via webconference)

Provincial Government members

  • Mark MacNaughton, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
  • Chami Amarasinghe, 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, Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)
  • Laura Anderson, Canadian Grain Commission

Federal Government observers

  • Tami Kowal-Denisenko, AAFC
  • Peter Neufeld, AAFC
  • Anthony Parker, CFIA (via webconference)

Guests / Speakers

  • Doug Forsyth, AAFC (via webconference)
  • Myrna Grahn, Public Trust Steering Committee
  • Ray Edwards, AAFC (via webconference)
  • Heather Shearer, CFIA (via webconference)
  • Nicholas Gauthier, AAFC (via webconference)
  • Jason Fradette, AAFC

Federal support

  • Sandra Liston, AAFC
  • Austin Mowat, AAFC
  • Tony McDougall, AAFC
  • Ron Gerold, AAFC
  • Monique Heise, AAFC

Industry observers

  • Erin Armstrong, Canterra Seeds
  • Janelle Whitley, Canadian Canola Growers Association
  • Claudio Feulner, CSGA
  • Doug Miller, CSGA
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