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32 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM SPOTLIGHT UNION FRANAISE DES SEMENCIERS AT THE HELM OF THE LARGEST SEED EXPORTING COUNTRY A CLOSER LOOK AT THE FRENCH SEED ASSOCIATION UFS A YOUNG ORGANIZATION BUILT ON A RICH HISTORICAL TRADITION BY MARCEL BRUINS FS was created as a unified organization in 2009 founded on the roots of six crop specific associations which were themselves strongly incorporated into the French agricultural environment. Those individual bodies did the job well and served their members but the growing complexity of the subjects to address their transversal impacts and the consolidation of the industry encouraged some companies leaders to think about improving their representation and the voice of the seed industry in France and abroad. After a thorough analysis and a close look at some existing and efficient national seed associations in the industry the new organization was set up the Union Franaise des Semenciers UFS. UFS TODAY The new association kept the principle of the six sections dedicated to crops where any specific issues are dealt with as it used to be in the former shape but three commissions were added each in charge of cross-cutting issues Regulatory and Innovation Intellectual Property and Production. The six crop sections in UFS are the following Cereals and Pulses Forage and Amenity Grasses Beets and Chicory Vegetables and Ornamentals Oil Crops Maize and Sorghum UFS represents the interests of more than 130 companies with a wide range of activities from breeding production or marketing of seeds. The company members are dispersed all over the French territory and their diversity provides local employment. Through their investment in innovation the companies are leveraging modern agriculture the food industry and environment which can be hot political topics. In order to efficiently drive the Association UFS took a lot of care to provide it with a modern governance body. This is reflected into the breadth of the 18 board members representing the diverse range of players. The UFS board is currently lead by its president Rgis Fournier. The operational support is provided by a team composed of 13 people with a good balance in expertise seniority and experience in the seed industry most of them having been recruited since the creation of UFS. At the head of the UFS Secretariat is its general manager Eric Devron. The success of UFS is probably based on the tight connection between the team at the UFS Secretariat and the members. In addition there are more than 200 active working groups that create a link that provides trust and practicality in any contribution that the association generates. Just to give an example the UFS General Assembly brings high visibility to the association and to the French seed sector gathering more than 300 participants representing political deciders and executives of the main stakeholders. It is the place to be in November At the last UFS General Assembly the association proudly received Stephane Le Foll the French minister of Agriculture. Another task of UFS today is to provide the necessary connection with the European and global environment such as the European Seed Association ESA and the International Seed Federation ISF. UFS puts a lot of efforts into ESA as a coordinating headquarters to grow the French connection with the association active in the European Union. UFS believes that the global ability to set up a true network and team spirit will leverage UFS actions at the EU level. Most of the UFS members who are already organized as such encourage us to move towards this community of interconnected and more centrally driven platforms. MISSION UFS is the voice of the French seed industry at any place where decisions are prepared and made. Our main missions can be summarised as Being a forum of exchange for members Assisting members with technical and regulatory development and professional best practices Representing UFS members and their interests at the international level as well as the national level Making proposals to public authorities and other parties and representing common industry positions Developing a positive image for the seed industrys activities through promotion education and dialogue with the general public and the media. In order to represent its members it is crucial that good policy papers are drafted and agreed upon. An example of its policy making activities are the UFS position papers. Some recent position papers are those on Seeds for Biological Agriculture of April 2015 and on New Plant Breeding Techniques of May 2015. THE FRENCH SEED INDUSTRY France according to the National Interprofessional Association for Seeds and Plants GNIS and ISF figures is the number one seed exporting country in the world. Some of the reasons contributing to this success are a wide range of climates and soils that allow for U