NFU Releases Analysis of Seed Crop Inspection Privatization

(Saskatoon, Sept. 23, 2013)-- The federal government plans to privatize Seed Field Crop Inspection in 2014, ending an 85-year history of government inspection in Canada. The 2012 federal budget directed the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to privatize seed field crop inspection services which underpin Canada’s pedigreed seed system. Today, the National Farmers Union (NFU) released its analysis of this scheme.

Privatization of seed field crop inspection will increase inspection costs for seed growers, but more importantly, will introduce conflicts of interest, inefficiencies, unfairness and discrimination. The public service provided by the CFIA is about to be transformed into a private revenue-generating activity that will maximize benefits to a few global agribusiness corporations. Above all, privatization will severely undermine, if not destroy, the integrity of Canada’s pedigreed seed system.

After 2014, the CFIA plans to allow seed companies to inspect seed crops of growers those same companies have contracted – instead of this being done by an impartial and independent third party.

“Independent seed growers will find themselves phased out as the seed crop inspection system, along with other essential seed-related systems such as plant breeding and variety registration, become progressively more dominated by private companies, ” says Terry Boehm, NFU President. “The growers will find it increasingly difficult to maintain their independence because the entire seed system will be controlled by a few major players. When that happens, farmers will have very little choice about where they get their seed or what kind of seed they can buy.”

“Private seed inspection companies will set their own fees for service and compete for growers’ business,” notes Lyle Wright, former pedigreed seed grower. “While agovernment employee did not have to worry about where her or his pay cheque originated, an inspector working for a private, for profit service needs to consider whether "being too keen" will impact next year's employment. The quality of inspection – and thus our seed supply – will suffer.”

Boehm notes that a large proportion of seed production for canola and corn is already being done by seed growers directly contracted by the large seed companies. “These companies will now be able to capture yet another piece of the seed system, and with it, the associated profit. With plans to privatize of the whole seed inspection system – including plans to allow first- and second-party inspection – independent seed growers will find it increasingly difficult, even impossible, to survive. Losing independent seed growers would put control not only of pedigreed seed, but our crops, and ultimately our food supply, under the increasingly consolidated control of a few very large global agribusiness corporations,” he concluded.

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For more information:

Terry Boehm, NFU President: (306) 255-2880, (306) 257-3689 or (306) 255-7638 (cell)
Lyle Wright, NFU member and former pedigreed seed grower: (306) 834-5006 or lcwright@yourlink.ca