Government of Canada advances efforts to build a strong and competitive organic industry

News release

June 14, 2019 – Sherbrooke, Quebec, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Today, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Marie-Claude Bibeau was at Cooperative Alentour in Sherbrooke where she announced an investment of $992,131 to the Canada Organic Trade Association to develop export and domestic market opportunities for high-quality organic food products, while continuing to build public trust and a positive reputation for the "Canada Organic Brand.” Minister Bibeau also announced that public consultations on proposed revisions to the Canadian Organic Standards (COS) will begin this summer.

The Minister made the announcement prior to a roundtable meeting with organic producers and association representatives, where she will highlight the Government of Canada’s ongoing commitment to the sector and discuss industry priorities.

The $992,131 will help the Canada Organic Trade Association fund trade show booths in international tradeshows, as well as facilitate incoming trade missions. It will also provide the technical assistance required for Canada to establish organic equivalency agreements with trade partners, and the trade advocacy to promote the “Canada Organic Brand” on the world stage.

The success of Canadian organic products is only possible at home and abroad with the consumer trust that comes from the Canadian Organic Standards, which are the backbone of the industry and the “Canada Organic Brand”.

In January 2018, the Government of Canada invested over $250,000 to help the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) complete their essential work on the Standards. The review is done every five years to ensure production methodologies reflect current practices and technological advancements being employed by the organic industry.

As part of review, the CGSB will launch a 90-day public review in summer 2019, to allow Canadians to analyze the proposed changes to the COS. Following the consultations, the technical Committee, which is composed of experts from industry, government and other organic food associations, will vote in late 2019 on the amendments to the current COS. The updated standards will be published by the CGSB in the fall.

The Government of Canada has also provided program support of approximately $300,000 to the Organic Federation of Canada to help improve the review of the standards and the sector’s sustainability.

Quotes

“Canadian organic farmers and food processors produce high quality products that meet the demands of consumers at home and abroad, while providing thousands of jobs across the country. Our commitment to help update the Standards and develop markets for Canadian organic products will contribute to a strong and competitive organic industry.”
- The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

“The Canadian General Standards Board is providing its unique expertise and leadership as the Government of Canada’s standards development organization. Through this consensus-based review, the CGSB will ensure that Canadians remain confident in the quality of organic food that they buy.”
- The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Accessibility

“The Canadian Organic Standards, which have been adopted by thousands of producers, define environmentally sound best practices for agricultural production in Canada. The public review will allow producers and consumers to validate our national organic standards and obtain noteworthy organic products. The Organic Federation of Canada thanks Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada for its support of the work to review the Canadian Organic Standards.”
- Jim Robbins, President, Organic Federation of Canada

“As the fastest-growing sector in Canadian agriculture, this investment supports organic companies to expand to international markets to meet the global demand for Canadian organic products. The funds will also be dedicated towards the future development of international equivalency arrangements, incoming buyer’s missions and a retailer training curriculum. We are thrilled by Minister Bibeau’s announcement of government funding of $992,000 towards supporting the organic sectors growth and integrity.”
- Tia Loftsgard, Executive Director, Canada Organic Trade Association

“With the government’s target of $75 billion in agricultural exports by 2025, it is crucial that booming sectors like organic be provided with equal opportunities to thrive in the global marketplace. We are pleased to see government recognition and the need to step up to support and build on the impressive momentum of Canadian organics, keeping our sector competitive with our largest trading partners. We are grateful for the government’s ongoing support, and we look forward to our joint work aimed at strengthening the integrity and growth of the organic sector in Canada.”
- Marie-Michèle Le Moine, Board Secretary, Canada Organic Trade Association

Quick facts

  • The agriculture and agri-food sector is a key driver of Canada’s economy, and the success of the organic trade will help Canada reach the Government of Canada’s ambitious goal of increasing agri-food exports to $75 billion annually by 2025.

  • Since October 2015, the Government of Canada has invested more than $50 million in support of the organic sector, focusing on facilitating adoption of innovative technologies; helping organic farmers and processors take advantage of market opportunities; funding youth jobs; and, conducting research activities.

  • Annual retail sales of certified organic food products in Canada is approximately $4.4 billion. Approximately 4,289 certified organic and transitional producers are working on over 930,000 hectares of land in Canada.

  • The Canadian Agricultural Partnership is a five-year, $3 billion investment by federal, provincial and territorial governments to strengthen the agriculture and agri-food sector.

  • Funding for the Canada Organic Trade Association was made under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership’s AgriMarketing Program: National Industry Association (NIA) Component, a five-year, up to $121 million federal initiative that aims to increase and diversify exports to international markets and seize domestic market opportunities.

  • The Canadian General Standards Board is a federal government organization that offers client-centered, comprehensive standards development and conformity assessment services in support of the economic, regulatory, procurement, health, safety and environmental interests of government, industry and consumers.

  • The Canadian Organic Standards are incorporated by reference in the federal Safe Food for Canadians Act, in 5 provincial jurisdictions, as well as in international equivalency agreements. The standards must be reviewed every 5 years to be kept relevant with production and technological progress and take into account submissions received from industry and organic stakeholders. The review must follow the consensus-based procedures of the CGSB, the accredited standards development organization that administers the COS, which is part of Public Services and Procurement Canada.

Associated links

Contacts

Justine Lesage
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
justine.lesage@canada.ca 
613-404-1168 (cell)

Media Relations
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
613-773-7972
1-866-345-7972
aafc.mediarelations-relationsmedias.aac@canada.ca
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