Focusing on Strengths
The new Executive Director of the Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA) Dave Carey shares family history, what he wishes others knew and what makes the association unique.
Seed World: What are you reading?
Dave Carey: I just finished reading Romeo Dallaire’s “Shake Hands with the Devil,” which is a very important book, but also a heavy read. I am also now about half way through “The Maltese Falcon.”
SW: What are you excited to bring to CSTA?
DC: I am excited to bring my government relations and advocacy skills to the forefront of the association, to ensure that we continue to be a leader and that we have our voice heard at all levels of government, including the Prime Minister’s office. I am also excited to bring some fresh ideas and a different perspective, having grown up in the Greater Toronto Area.
SW: What do you see as the biggest challenge facing members of CSTA?
DC: CSTA members are incredibly resilient. They adapt, change and innovate at a very fast rate. One challenge is ensuring that Canada has a regulatory environment that encourages and fosters investment in innovation at home. Uncertainty in the regulatory system and the addition of extra regulations at the provincial level are concerning, especially when there are already science-based federal regulations in place. Canada is in competition with our global trading partners when it comes to investing in innovation, and Canada must be seen as a good place to invest, innovate and do business.
SW: What is the greatest strength that CSTA can offer members?
DC: CSTA’s greatest strength is our members, and in return, we provide a unified voice that is well connected with parliamentarians, bureaucrats and regulators to ensure that the interests and needs of our members are known at every level of government. CSTA has also earned a reputation as an excellent collaborator, an association that brings groups together to accomplish a common goal that we may not otherwise have been able to get done as individual organizations. CSTA and our board of directors always put the greater interests of the seed industry first. We have and will continue to provide a venue where industry can meet, share ideas and challenge each other on policy positions.
SW: Who was your most impactful mentor?
DC: My grandfather, William Spence has been my biggest mentor. He emigrated from Scotland to Toronto at a very young age with very little money and no post-secondary education and started to work as a bank teller at CIBC. CIBC soon identified that he was exceptionally intelligent and sent him to the University of British Columbia to do his undergraduate degree. As he made his way up the ranks of the bank, he won a fellowship and moved his young family, including my mom, to the Boston area to live on campus while he did a double master’s at M.I.T. He went from a young man from Scotland working as a teller to the senior executive vice president, spending his whole career with CIBC. My grandfather is the smartest man I know and someone I have and will always look up to as a true testament to the power of both the mind and perseverance.
SW: What do you want people to know about the agriculture industry?
DC: I want them to know how vitally important it is. The agriculture industry in Canada has done such a good job of providing safe, nutritious, abundant and affordable food to Canadians that most of the population never have to think about food security. I also want people to know that modern agriculture uses leading edge technologies and that farmers are the original environmentalists and stewards of the land. They are proud of the work that they do and how they do it and they want you to get more involved too. With that in mind, I also don’t think that most urban and suburbanites recognize the multitude of careers available in agriculture today. You don’t have to work on a farm to be in the industry; there are marketing, sales, legal, human resource and advocacy jobs, to name but a few.