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Ontario pair recognized by seed trade

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Ontario pair recognized by seed trade
John Cowan and Don McClure, two long-serving professionals in the Ontario seed trade, were recognized by the Canadian Seed Trade Association for their contributions to the certified seed trade.


July 21, 2009
By Agri-Link/Canadian Seed Trade Association

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July 20, 2009Two awards were presented recently, to two much-deserving individuals involved in the seed trade in Ontario. John Cowan of Hyland Seeds, based in Blenheim, Ontario, and Don McClure, soybean breeder for Syngenta's NK Brand Seeds, received individual responses for their contributions to agriculture. Cowan received the 2009 Seed Achievement Award while McClure was presented with the Canadian Plant Breeding and Genetics Award.


As he accepted his award, Cown was described as "A relentless supporter of certified seed, with the outstanding ability to unite our industry to work for a common cause." 

The Seed Achievement award is presented by the Canadian Seed Trade Association to a person who has made a significant contribution to the Canadian seed industry. "There is no better candidate for this prestigious award than John Cowan," said his nominator Jeff Reid of SeCan.

John Cowan began his seed industry career in 1977 with Hyland Seeds in Blenheim Ontario. He was just the 4th employee ever hired by Hyland Seeds. He moved on to become Hyland’s Sales and Marketing Manager, growing the advertising and marketing budget 10 fold before becoming General Manager of Hyland Seeds in 1997.

Under John’s leadership Hyland has established itself as a leading developer of corn, soybean, and wheat genetics targeted at the northern tier of North America. Hyland now contracts hundreds of thousands of acres of identity preserved crop production which is highly integrated with Thompsons’ elevator and value-added processing facilities in Canada and the northern United States.

"John has been an exceptional spokesman on behalf of our industry," said Reid. "He spearheaded the Hyland Seeds ’Farmers Feed Cities’ hot air balloon which developed into an incredibly successful PR activity on behalf of not only Hyland Seeds, but the entire seed industry. He also developed and continues to champion the ‘value circle’ concept where he envisions all players in the agri-food industry working together towards and benefiting from new seed innovation."

John Cowan has also left his mark on the CSTA, lending his expertise to a number of CSTA committees and serving for 10 years on the Board of Directors. John was CSTA’s President in 2005-06, and continues to contribute actively as a member of several committees and as part of CSTA’s External Relations work group, which he helped to establish.

For McClure, his award carried with it a special benefit, as it is a peer nominated and selected recognition of an outstanding contribution to the advancement of plant agriculture. He has led Syngenta’s NK Brand soybean breeding team for 20 years and his varieties have sold millions of units in Canada and the United States. "Through his determination, success and inspiration, the soybean product development program based in Arva, Ontario has emerged from a small testing program to a well recognized and respected breeding program," says co-nominator David Lee, Research Associate at Syngenta Seeds.

Much of McClure’s breeding efforts have been focused on the development of conventional varieties demanded by identity-preserved markets. His variety SO3-W4 has become one of the most respected and sought after varieties by both foreign buyers and Canadian growers. Sales of this variety are expected to reach one million units by the end of this growing season. SO3-W4 is the first early maturity variety in Canada with the preferred combination of quality traits for food uses and a strong agronomic package for Growers.

More recently, McClure has gained national attention from both urban and agriculture media through his work to develop the first aphid resistant variety to enter the Canadian market place. He was also instrumental in developing herbicide-tolerant varieties of soybeans that are adapted to all maturity groups in Canada and which have also proven to be extremely successful in the United States. "As a breeder, Don continues to deliver varieties that have met or exceeded the expectations of both Canadian and American growers," says co-nominator Adam Queen, Research Technician at Syngenta Seeds.

McClure’s co-nominators summed up their letter of nomination as follows: "Don has proven to be one of the most successful soybean breeders in Canada, whose accomplishments have benefited Canadian growers and set industry standards. He is an invaluable resource to Syngenta Seeds and has developed a reputation for success in all aspects of the agriculture industry."