President’s Corner

Fawad Shah

By Fawad Shah, President/CEO

MCIA Adding Value in a Value-Added World

Every company wants to be more visible, especially within its industry, in order to be competitive in a market that is always changing, to inform customers about its goods and services, and to maintain or grow its market share. A firm depends on several methods of communication, including print, electronic, and social media, to attract clients and increase sales. The non-profit Minnesota Crop Improvement Association works hard to stay in the minds and eyes of both its present and future clients. MCIA is dedicated to giving its customers high-caliber services and outstanding customer support.

MCIA met the milestone of increasing its visibility in many ways during 2023. First, MCIA successfully hosted the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA) conference at the Hyatt Regency in Bloomington, Minnesota. MCIA was honored with AOSCA’s first ‘Excellence in Innovation’ award. This is testament to MCIA’s diverse array of services of seed certification, third-party inspection and audit services, and its Capacity Building Initiative to educate and train seed professionals in other nations. Through the University of Minnesota’s Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, MCIA is the only seed certification agency that offers formal in-class instruction for undergraduate students. In addition, AOSCA recognized MCIA Administrative and Certification Manager Jody Prudhomme with an award for 25 years of service for her contributions to seed certification. Finally, yet importantly, AOSCA recognized MCIA Foundation Seed Services Manager Roger Wippler with an honorary membership. Recognition at an international forum like AOSCA’s meeting is clearly an achievement for MCIA.

The October 2023 edition of Seed World, a prestigious seed industry magazine offering seed related content for over 100 years, published an article about MCIA’s receipt of the AOSCA award. In a follow-up article published in the Seed World, I explain how international outreach and capacity building efforts benefit MCIA as the seed market globalizes. I also talk about how service diversification can improve the financial stability of state seed certification agencies, as demand for their traditional services is on the decline. MCIA strives for and leads the way in its capacity building and diversification of services such as Identity Preserved (IP) third-party inspection and audit programs. Seed certifying agencies have an important role to play in showcasing the integrity of products verified through IP programs. Through our print and on-line publications, social media, and by invited speaking assignments, MCIA continues to engage with the agricultural community and increase our visibility.

As we do each year, MCIA is putting together an informative program for its annual meeting. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 24, 2024, at the Holiday Inn & Suites, in St. Cloud. Topics include a panel discussion on challenges and opportunities for young seed producers, Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s involvement in cannabis seed labeling and sale, and ways to achieve success in the seed industry in a challenging and changing seed world. This annual event is an opportunity to recognize individuals in our industry in the way of awards for Honorary Premier Seed Grower and Premier Seed Grower, and the Achievement in Crop Improvement Award. Plan to attend this important event; learn and network with others from the seed and agricultural industry.

AOSCA Honors MCIA for Excellence in Innovation

We couldn’t be more pleased to announce that the winner of the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies’ (AOSCA) inaugural Excellence in Innovation award is the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association.

MCIA President/CEO Fawad Shah accepted the award on behalf of the organization at AOSCA’s 2023 Annual Meeting, held June 5, 2023, in Bloomington, Minnesota.

In AOSCA’s words, “The award is intended to encourage and recognize an agency that has meaningfully advanced the work of seed certification or related programs. To win the Excellence in Innovation award, a recipient agency not only contributes to the day-to-day work within agriculture, but also leads the industry forward via continual improvements and advancement.”

Read coverage of the event in this recent SeedWorld article:

AOSCA Honors MCIA with Three Awards

Roger Wippler, Fawad Shah, and Jody Prudhomme holding, respectively, Hon- orary Member, Excellence in Innovation, and Certificate of Service awards. Photo: MCIA.

At AOSCA’s 2023 Annual Meeting, held in Bloomington, Minnesota Crop Improvement Association was recognized in a big way. AOSCA established a new award to recognize its members for their service in the seed certification space. One of the inaugural recipients of that award is MCIA’s very own Administrative and Certification Manager Jody Prudhomme. She was awarded a Certificate of Service, “in recognition of twenty-five years of dedicated service, loyalty, and commitment to AOSCA and the seed industry.” Jody’s knowledge, experience, and ability to work with colleagues and clients is exemplary. She has a great track record for ensuring the integrity of seed certification standards across the board, for all crops certified by MCIA.

In addition, AOSCA established the Excellence in Innovation Award. The criteria for consideration included, a) Use a novel approach to meet a challenge in the seed industry, b) Develop a unique way to enhance an AOSCA program, c) Implement a new technique with an AOSCA Program, and d) Foster growth of seed certification or a related program. MCIA is the first recipient of this prestigious award. The recognition is a testament to MCIA’s diverse array of seed certification and third-party inspection and audit services, as well as its Capacity Building Initiative, which educates and trains seed professionals in other nations. MCIA staff also teach an undergraduate class through the University of Minnesota’s Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics. No other agency offers such formal education.

Furthermore, AOSCA recognized MCIA Foundation Seed Services Manager Roger Wippler with its Honorary Member award. Roger’s whole family joined him upon the receipt of this award, which was a complete surprise to him. About four years ago, Roger’s spouse and then MCIA General Manager, Cindy Wippler, was recognized as an AOSCA Honorary Member for her service to seed certifying agencies, a first in the history of AOSCA for a woman. With nearly seven decades of dedicated service to seed certification between them, Cindy and Roger Wippler truly deserve the recognition.

Besides the honor and joy of hosting the event, these awards made this year’s AOSCA Annual Meeting the most memorable in the history of MCIA.