Seed growers dissect results of merger vote

Members rejected proposal to amalgamate with four other organizations, but association says the door is not closed

The Canadian Seed Growers Association has not given up on merging with other seed industry groups to form a national organization called Seeds Canada, says the CSGA’s top executive.

The CSGA’s national board and its provincial branches intend to weigh their options before making a decision on whether to pursue a new amalgamation deal more amenable to CSGA members or to remain a stand-alone organization.

“The (CSGA) board has definitely not closed the door on anything…,” said Glyn Chancey, the association’s executive director.

In a recent vote, CSGA members, which include 3,500 independent seed growers across Canada, rejected a proposal to merge with the Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA) and other groups including the Canadian Plant Technology Agency (CPTA), the Canadian Seed Institute (CSI) and the Commercial Seed Analysts Association of Canada (CSAAC).

Before making any decisions about its future, the CSGA board wants to review the results of the vote and listen to feedback from its provincial branch organizations, he added.

In a Sept. 9 interview with The Western Producer, Chancey said the CSGA board has not closed the door on any reasonable options. “Our board realized that it was a pretty decisive vote…,” said Chancey.

“There’s nothing that prevents the parties from agreeing to do something together going forward…,” he added. “But what we’re most focused on now is understanding the results of the vote.”

Of the 751 CSGA members who voted on the merger proposal, 337 (45 percent) supported the deal, while 414 (55 percent) were opposed.

Voter participation was low. Only 21 percent of eligible CSGA members cast a ballot.

To proceed with the amalgamation, the CSGA vote required the support of 67.7 percent of members.

The CSGA board said it would like to determine whether CSGA members are fundamentally opposed to any merger proposal, or whether they were opposed to the specific proposal that was presented.

Chancey said the proposal may have garnered the necessary support if it had been explained more thoroughly or if certain elements had been refined.

Before the vote, some CSGA members voiced concerns about the proposed governance structure of the new organization, which they said could have resulted in the interests of seed growers being under-represented.

At the end of the day, that analysis will inform the board’s views on “what’s reasonable, and what’s supportable by the membership…,” he said.

The original merger proposal included provisions to hold a second vote, if necessary, to gain the necessary approval.

Major decisions on what direction the CSGA takes likely won’t be made until early to mid-2021, after the CSGA’s branch associations have held their annual general meetings.

“I would say they would have to, at a minimum, go through what I would call a consulting season — the period of time when the branches hold their AGMs — which would be December through February,” Chancey said.

“Coming out of that, I would think they would have a pretty good idea of what’s feasible.”

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