Canadian Organic Standards Funding Initiative

(L-R): Paddy Doherty (Chair of the Organic Value Chain Round Table), Nicole Boudreau (Organic Federation of Canada), Tia Loftsgard (Canada Organic Trade Association), Minister Lawrence MacAulay, MP Lloyd Longfield and Ashley St Hilaire (Canadian Organic Growers)

Canadian Organic Standards

On Friday, January 26, 2018, Canadian organics received a big boost. The Minister of Agriculture, Lawrence MacAulay announced the federal government’s plan to help fund the Canadian Organic Standards initiative. The government will provide a $250,000 contribution toward the review process, which is likely to cost as much as $550,000. The review effort will be jointly led by Canadian Organic Growers (COG) and the Organic Federation of Canada, with support from the Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA).

What does this even mean, you ask? Well, this funding helps ensure that Canadian Organic Standards be reviewed and updated so that organic producers and processors are able to remain competitive both domestically and abroad. According to Ashley St Hilaire, Director of Programs and Government Relations at COG, “The Canadian Organic Standards are the backbone of our entire organic industry.  They define ecological agricultural practices that promote productivity, profitability, the protection of the environment, and the humane treatment of livestock.” These standards will help to secure the continued success of the organic industry in Canada. They will also help to safeguard consumer confidence by bringing organic standards across the country into line with each other.

COG and COTA still need $300,000 in order to complete a comprehensive review of the Canadian organic standards to ensure they do not become outdated and withdrawn under the Standards Council of Canada requirements. According to COTA, if this remaining funding does not come through, “International trade [could] be at risk as withdrawn standards would affect the current organic equivalency agreements that Canada has established with 90% of Canada’s organic export markets. Equivalency agreements mean that our Canadian Organic Standards are equivalent to the standards set by our international trading partners, thus streamlining trade.” A $250,000 investment from the federal government is a big win and a good start, but it doesn’t end here. Keep an eye out for ways to help the Canadian organic industry meet its funding goal!

You can read the Canadian government’s press release here.

You can read COG’s press release here.

You can read COTA’s reaction here.