Organic Focus Organic Council of Ontario Member Newsletter Summer 2013
Summer 2013! Greetings, OCO Members! What a ride this season has been for our farmer members and for our organization as well. As we navigate a funding gap left by a late start to Growing Forward 2 programs, I am extremely proud of the performance our Job Creation Partnership program interns. Leah Sprague (administration), Caitlin Bragg (social media), J u l i a n n a V a n Ad r i c h e m (outreach) and Anne Marie Dafaur (events) have been an incredible addition to the OCO team, and have provided essential support in our ongoing funding campaign. Elizabeth Stewart whom many of you got to know as our CoFarmer Co-ordinator finished her contract with two good news stories: designing and launching our new $2 at the Till Pilot Program; and the safe arrival of baby Charlie! Congratulations, Elizabeth and Adam, on behalf of the membership! We are expanding the program this fall to 15 retailers, and we’ve begun designing a parallel program for processors and distributors. The Board is confident that a series of these consumer-direct support activities along with membership and sponsorship dollars will allow OCO to fully fund our basic activities
independent of grants. If you have an idea of how YOUR business can work with your customers to share the load of funding this important voice for organics, please contact Jodi at email@example.com
Volume 7, Issue 2
In The Summer Issue: Section
- Message from ED
OCO Round-Up - OCO Spring Activities 2 - Staffing Shifts/Funding Gap - Communications Update - $2 @ The Till Fundraiser!
- Manitoba Regulation
- GM Alfalfa Registered
- Message from Membership 6 Coordinator - Member Profiles
- Events Listing
- Equivalency - Specialty Crop Resources - Funding Opportunities
- Standards Review
We have been hard at work connecting with the conventional sector groups to discuss value chain development within chicken and grains. Our main focus for the coming few years will be on increasing supply- we are open to feedback from membership on what we can be doing to develop the sector as your sector organization- pick up your phone and give us a call!
- CDN Organic worth $3.7b - Organic Week 2013
- Organic Inputs - Rebutting Naysayers
- Organic Options Keep Growing - Foodland Organic
- Organic Options Keep Growing (continued) - Bring Food Home Conf.
- GFTC Legacy Fund
- Transforming Crop Nutrition
Wishing everyone a delightful waning summer-
Board of Directors and Staff
- List of OCO Board 16 Members, Staff and Interns
We would also like the membership to acknowledge the hard work and dedication shown to OCO by Mary Ellen Wales, who recently completed her contract. Mary made vast improvements to the website, wrote engaging stories and articles, and contributed enormously to the delivery of and research for our current CAAP project.
Jodi Koberinski, OCO Executive Director
This is the member newsletter for the Organic Council of Ontario. The purpose of this newsletter is to keep membership informed of important organic sector issues and to keep membership informed regarding the activities of OCO. The best way to ensure we can continue to do great work to support the Organic sector is through your membership and participation!
OCO’s Spring 2013 Activities Keynote presentation at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition
Conference “Demanding Organic for Health,” the third stop on our Whole Foods Speaker Series.
Presentation on the state of organics in Ontario to industry at the annual Puresource Tabletop Show.
The Food, Farms, Fish and Finance conference was held in Toronto,
OCO was a co-organizer of the event and Board member Tom Manley was a panelist and participant.
Policy meeting with OMAF and sector leadership to discuss the new
OMAF meat regulation changes; Abra Brynne and Kathleen Gibson presented on the case in BC reviewing 10 years of work in the province and lessons learned for Ontario.
Bring Food Home Conference programming planning meeting. Prepared presentation for the CSNN Conference May 24-25 in Toronto.
Meeting with Ontario Agriculture and Food Technology regarding projects for the grain sector.
‘$2 at the Till’ fundraising pilot project at the Big Carrot raised $6000 for OCO activities!
Presented 2nd Speaker Series talk at Wholefoods Oakville.
OCO Staffing Shifts The Organic Council office has been going through some major shifts as we move into the summer season. Elizabeth, our cofarmer campaign coordinator and all around amazing person is leaving for maternity leave while Jacob Pries has finished his parental leave and is looking to return to work, pending funding. Mary, who had been covering Jacob’s parental leave has finished her time with OCO, although we hope we can continue to work with her on upcoming research projects.
OCO Funding Gap The organization is experiencing a period of austerity as project dollars are in short supply. As a result full time staff have been temporarily laid off pending improvements in the economic situation of the organization. We are hopeful that more of the great organic businesses in Ontario will come forward and become members with our organization so that we can continue to provide a high standard of deliverables for the sector’s continued growth and success. We’d like to ask folks to consider asking friends who are not yet members to join OCO. The sector needs to step up to the plate if they want an organization to continue to act as the voice for organic in Ontario.
Participated in panel presentation at UofT, Breaking down Silos: Exploring Partnerships in Food Policy with Barbara Emanuel from Toronto Public Health and Carolyn Young from Sustain Ontario.
Met with Ontario Agriculture and Food Technology to discuss OCO innovation projects.
Provided background information and interviews regarding GMO Labeling campaigns.
Launched $2 at the Till Pilot Project with OCO member The Big Carrot, a campaign to provide core funding from “eaters” for OCO’s activities.
First meeting with the new Board of Directors Membership drive planning for industry Attended the Good Food ideas videos launch at Queen’s Park with Minister Wynne and PC Ag Critic Ernie Hardeman
Presentation and discussion at a Mississauga highschool following a viewing of Food Inc.
Project development for upcoming grant applications OCO Board member Jenn Pfenning attended the Presidents’ Council
meeting and presented on the need for a provincial organic regulation
Meeting with industry leaders to discuss data collection/ traceability project to help track organic sales and trends
Hosted a table and gave a presentation at the Brampton YMCA EcoFair
Participated in the April 9th Day of Action to Stop GM alfalfa in
Guelph, Toronto and Ottawa. OCO spoke at the Guelph rally with over 250 people in attendance.
Met with Liberal MP for Guelph Frank Valeriote to hand in over 1100
signatures on the CBAN petition to stop GM alfalfa, and to hear Frank’s update on his motion for a moratorium that is now before the Agriculture Standing Committee.
OCO’s Spring 2013 Activities Continued
Participated in the two day Canada Food Summit hosted by the
Conference Board of Canada as part of a contingency sponsored by the MacConnell Family Foundation to counter the “food is about industry only” bias present in the Conference Board’s approach.
Hosted the Organic Pavilion at the Green Living Show, with a “ministage” showing videos and slide shows to the public and offering 4 power-workshops a day.
Launched the “The ‘O’ Word: Demanding Organic for Health”
whole foods speakers series at the main stage of the Green Living Show with Dr. Ann Clark and youth activist Rachel Parent Engaged in hundreds of individual conversations, and estimate that at least 400 people participated in the workshops and main stage discussion at the Green Living Show.
Submitted a grant application to New Directions to develop
materials to support both policy development and uptake of Best Management Practices on farm to adapt to and mitigate climate change.
Developed support and partnerships for New Directions Grant
application and met with OMAF to discuss specifics of the climate change policy/ Best Management Practices or BMPs project Staff worked collaboratively to gather source material and information for the presentation for the upcoming Green Living Show
Attended Rural Ontario Institute’s fundraising gala Presented on the topic of “leadership” in the organic movement to the Rural Ontario Institute’s 30 leadership program participants following Mark Lynas’ presentation.
Attended the Big Carrot’s prep day for the upcoming Day of Action
to stop RR alfalfa. Staff undertook extra outreach efforts to make supporters aware of the Day of action and gather petition signatures.
Volume 7 Issue 2
OCO Round-Up Communications Update
Staff and interns have had a busy spring online as well as offline. Weâ€™ve continued to increase our digital media presence on our website, Facebook, and Twitter. OCO Executive Director, Jodi Koberinski, has been busy with a speaking tour launched at the 2013 Green Living Show, many meetings with key industry stakeholders as well as positive media presence. Jodi did an interview in early June 2013 on Quibble with Kyle Kurbegovich, a soon to be live network of podcasts. The showâ€™s slogan is interesting conversations for interested people, so if you are interested in food system issues, you should definitely give this a listen. Jodi discusses everything from current farming models, sustainable futures for farming, optimal nutrition, GMOs, right-to-know campaigns and seed freedom. Listen to interview here: http://quibblenetwork.com/quibble/?p=45
If you want to know more about what we are up to check out our webpage, facebook, or twitter!
Teenager Rachel Parent spoke at the Green Living Show about the importance of organic with OCO ED Jodi Koberinski and Dr. Ann Clark
Manitoba gets a provincial organic law: is Ontario next? Guelph, ON- The use of the term “organic” in Canada just got a little clearer, and the Organic Council of Ontario hopes the that Manitoba’s new law leads to similar legislation in Ontario. On May 4, 2013, Manitoba proclaimed the Organic Agricultural Products Act (OAPA), making Manitoba the first province to pass a provincial organic law since the federal Organic Products Regulations (OPR) were passed in June 2009. Manitoba is now the third province with a provincial law that defines and controls the use of the word “organic” within the provincial context (both British Columbia and Quebec have laws that predate the OPR) and it is the first province to pass a law that “mirrors” the federal OPR. Manitoba has adopted the federal definition of “organic”, references the same standards (CAN/CGSB-32.310 and CAN/ CGSB-32.311) and will rely on the same system of federally-accredited Certification Bodies to ensure that organic operators comply with organic standards. As in the federal system, Manitoba’s approach to enforcement will be complaint-based. The OAPA and its regulations will come into force on July 1, 2013 and will apply to all food products grown or processed and sold in Manitoba that make an organic claim. The OAPA mirrors the federal OPR and provides additional oversight over retailers that sell organic food. The new law will require all farmers and food processors that make organic food claims to be inspected annually by a federally accredited Certification Body. Certified operators in Manitoba will be able to use the federal organic logo on food products containing more than 95% organic ingredients. The law does not require businesses that sell organic food to be certified unless they perform additional processing in-store or in their distribution centres, but they must maintain the integrity of organic food products by developing and following standard operating procedures to segregate organic and conventional food products and maintain appropriate records to demonstrate that organic integrity is preserved throughout their chain of custody. The OAPA and its regulations will close the provincial gap in the national network of laws governing use of the word “organic” in Manitoba and will provide assurance to Manitoba consumers that all food promoted as “organic” is subject to the same regulatory requirements no matter where it is produced. “The case for such legislation in Ontario is simple, producers and consumers alike deserve clarity in the marketplace,” said Matt LeBeau, Chair of the Organic Council of Ontario and a broker in the organic food industry. “We cannot grow Ontario organics to its full potential without similar legislation in place”. The Organic Council of Ontario has promoted such legislation as a needed tool in protecting the integrity of the organic brand. Built over a 30 year history of shared values and a commitment to transparency and traceability, the organic claim is a values contract between producer and consumer. Certification is the backbone of that trust relationship. “With the organic sector in Ontario a billion dollar industry and a growth rate of 10-15%, OCO believes the province has the duty to ensure the same marketplace protections Quebec and Manitoba farmers enjoy for Ontario’s farmers,” added Mr. LeBeau.
Volume 7 Issue 2
GM Alfalfa Registered From Canadian Biotechnology Action Network June 10 2013: The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) has uncovered that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has recently approved one variety of genetically engineered alfalfa: a herbicide tolerant (Roundup Ready) alfalfa from Monsanto/Forage Genetics International. This means that one variety of GM alfalfa is now legal to sell in Canada. There could be more varieties approved over the summer (the process is completely secret). However, GM alfalfa seeds are not yet on the market in Canada. Email your MP today, to ask him or her to raise their voice, to stop the release of GM alfalfa. You can also send a personalized letter to the Minister of Agriculture, Gerry Ritz firstname.lastname@example.org After the Day of Action to Stop GM Alfalfa on April 9 2013, the company Forage Genetics International stated that it would not put any GM alfalfa seeds on the market this spring. The company could, however, release GM alfalfa whenever it decides. CBAN is closely monitoring this situation. The Minister of Agriculture, Gerry Ritz, chose not to intervene to stop the registration of GM alfalfa. The Minister received almost 8000 email letters asking him to stop the release GM alfalfa and on April 9, people rallied in 38 communities across Canada. Most of the community actions took place outside local constituency offices of federal Members of Parliament and many petitions were presented to MPs that have since been presented by them in the House of Commons. Your outreach to your Members of Parliament has been very influential. As CBAN continues to implement various strategic work to stop the release of GM alfalfa, we ask you to continue your communication with your Member of Parliament. The Day of Action showed us that many MPs understand your concerns. Because alfalfa is a perennial plant that is pollinated by bees, genetically modified alfalfa will inevitably cross-pollinate with non-GM and organic alfalfa, threatening the livelihoods of family farmers across Canada. Prairie farmers who export alfalfa products are vocally opposed to GM alfalfa so the industry is trying to introduce GM alfalfa in Eastern Canada first. The recent discovery of contamination from unapproved GM wheat in the US clearly shows why stopping the introduction of GM crops like GM alfalfa is the only way to stop contamination. For further information or with questions please contact email@example.com Click here to send your new letter to your MP instantly: "Stop GM Contamination: Stop GM Alfalfa" Click here for some possible responses to you MP's letter. Here is a background piece you can send to your MP with your letter. You can also include the report on contamination from CBAN. Here are some talking points for your own reference. The above links can be found at: http://www.cban.ca/Resources/Topics/GE-Crops-and-Foods-Not-on-the-Market/Alfalfa
From the OCO Membership Desk I am excited to be back with OCO after 8 months of parental leave with my partner and baby Anja Cedar, who is already very excited about digging in our gardens. When I left in September 2012 I had been focusing on the organizations’ communications and after careful reflection realized that we had a major gap as we did not have a staff that was specifically dedicated to membership. All the staff and interns at OCO have been working directly and indirectly to benefit our members - that is why we are here, but we really need one person whose sole focus it is to connect with members and expand our membership base. That is what I will be doing as membership coordinator on a semi-volunteer basis for the rest of summer, until cohesive funding can be re-established. Membership is of the utmost importance to our organization, it allows us to truly represent the organic sector to government and be a strong and independent voice for the interests of the organic farmers and businesses. Jacob and his child Anja Cedar I’d like to thank all new and renewing members for your support and participation in events throughout the year. We encourage our members to get involved and attend our events and AGM, like many of you did, and to contact us at any time with your opinions. A reminder as well that the member newsletter is also a platform for you to share information with each other— so feel very free to contact us with anything you would like to see in the newsletter. Best wishes for the summer, Jacob Pries, Membership Coordinator
Member Profile: Avalon Orchards Twenty-two years ago Gaye Trombley had a vision. And, even though some people thought her to be somewhat fanatical when she told them her idea, she forged ahead anyways. Gaye wanted to have an organic apple orchard. She did her research, seeking advice from agricultural researchers at Purdue University and the Kentville Nova Scotia Research Station before deciding what apple varieties to plant. Her orchard has been planned for over twenty years and she purposely chose disease resistant cultivars so that growing apples without the use of pesticides would be easier. “Right from the start I saw a real advantage in planting disease resistant cultivars,” she notes. Certified by Pro-Cert Inc, Avalon Orchards consists of an astonishing 10, 000 apple trees spread over 50 acres. Over 14 varieties are planted in the orchard, with names such as Red Spy, Nova Scotia Macintosh, Liberty and Freedom. The orchard is still expanding and two new varieties were recently planted. One of the unique things about orchards which sets them apart from other types of agriculture is the long term planning process required. Once a ‘whip’, or a small 1-2 year old tree is planted, it takes around 5 years before fruit is produced and harvest can take place. “I really had to sit down and plan things out. I was trying a new approach and at the time there was only one other organic apple grower in the province who I could ask for advice,” states Gaye. That apple grower was Alvin Filsinger, a prominent organic apple grower who passed away in 2010. Alvin is described by others as a groundbreaking pioneer who built his southern Ontario farm into a major organic apple growing, packing and processing business, known today as ‘Filsinger Organic Foods’. Today, organic orchards in Ontario are extremely few and far between and much of the organic fruits and vegetables consumed in Ontario are imported. According to Gaye, organic farming requires a significantly higher amount of physical labour as synthetic chemicals cannot be used to control pests and diseases. Avalon Orchards offers U-PICK apples from August to November as well as other locally produced products such as vegetables, beef, jams and honey which are sold on-farm. They also produce fresh apple cider weekly and are introducing their own organic vinegar this year. There are also walking trails on the farm to enrich the apple picking experience and group tours are offered. The orchard’s products are also carried by the GTA-based home delivery service Mama Earth Organics, and available at selected natural health food stores in Toronto. For more information contact Gaye at 705-458-9902 or visit her website.
Volume 7 Issue 2
OCO Speaker Tour When: Spring/Summer 2013 Where: various locations across Ontario OCO’s ED, Jodi Koberinski, will travel to many different events this Spring and Summer to speak on the topic of organic health. Jodi will speak at this year’s Green Living Show, at the Canadian Holistic Nutrition Conference, at Whole Foods Market and more. For speaker tour details and visit www.organiccouncil.ca/ speakertour.
2013 EFAO Bus Tour to Eastern Ontario & Quebec! Date: August 22 – August 24 Visit 8-10 farms, a mixture of vegetables, dairy, cash crops, and on–farm processing. Overnight stays in Ottawa & Cornwall Highlights: Anaerobic digester, sunflower milling, cover crop research, organic dairy research, on-farm dairy processing, And more! To register for the bus tour contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: 1.877.822.8606 to hold your spot now!
2013 Greenbelt Harvest Picnic Saturday August 31st, Christie Lake, Dundas Ontario EFAO Summer Kitchen Table Meeting: Draft Horses – the Neil Young with Crazy Horse & Daneil Lanois, Emmylou Harris, Perfect and Profitable Fit with the CSA Garden Whitehorse, Trixie Whitley, Rocco DeLuca and more! Date: July 17, 2013, 10am-4pm http://www.harvestpicnic.ca/ Location: Orchard Hill Farm, St. Thomas Demonstrations of mostly new and interesting horse ma-chinery Feast of Fields such as Pioneer plough, culti-mulcher, row cultiva-tion in the CSA When: September 8th, 2013 garden, treadmill, hay mower and tedder, etc. Hitching demonstra- Where: Cold Creek Conservation Area, ON tions from 1-4 horses for different jobs will also be covered. The annual outdoor food event hosted by Organic Advocates For more info and to register contact EFAO: email@example.com brings together farmers, chefs and the public to raise awareness of organics. EFAO Summer Farm Tour: Whitefield Farm Tour Cost: Early bird tickets for $75. For more info/to purchase tickets Date: July 28, 3:00pm - 5:00pm tour, followed by a potluck. call 905.589.3609. Owned by Blair and Jessica Morrison, Whitefield Farm is a new 80 ac mixed farm located in Lucknow, Ont., featuring organically Organic Week 2013 raised CSA garden, pastured beef, chicken and eggs. A new straw September 21-28 bale house built in 2012 features reclaimed and recycled materials, Canada’s National Organic Week is the largest annual celebration passive solar heating, imported wood cook stove, solar and horse of organic food, farming and products across the country. Hunpower energy. Whitefield Farm is being developed with sustainabil- dreds of individual events showcase the benefits of organic agriculity and self-sufficiency in mind and focused on creative solutions to ture and its positive impact on the environment. Organic reprethe challenges of modern farming. sents a vibrant alternative food system and an alternative option For more information on either tour and to register confor clothing, personal care and cleaning products. - See more at: tact: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: 519.822.8606 or 1.877.822.8606. http://www.organicweek.ca Organic Vegetable Seed Production Workshop 1pm - 4pm, Thursday August 8, 2013. Hawthorn Farm, Palmerston. Registration is free. Come visit a certified organic seed production farm to understand the dynamics of small-scale organic vegetable seed production in Ontario. Kim Delaney, owner of Hawthorn Farm, will show us crop planning methods, isolation practices, rogueing and selection standards, and processing techniques for vegetable seed production. Should you have questions related to the event please contact Aabir Dey at (519) 855-4859 Ext. 103 or by e-mail at email@example.com. Funding for this tour is provided by the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security, delivered by USC Canada in partnership with Seeds of Diversity Canada and through the generous support of The W. Garfield Weston Foundation. To learn more about the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security, please visit: www.seedsecurity.ca
Windsor, Ontario will be hosting our 2013 Bring Food Home Conference – Building Bridges Together. This year’s conference will run from November 17th to 19th and will feature a wide range of workshops, new farmer training, compelling keynote speakers and a feast of local flavours. Bring Food Home is Ontario’s biennial conference connecting those individuals and organizations who are working towards a sustainable food system. Join us in transforming the future of food. bringfoodhome.com
Have an upcoming event? OCO can help promote your events and exhibitions in our Newsletter, eNewsletter and our online events page. It’s easy. Simply send the details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Highlights from OMAF’s ON Organic Newsletter Full newsletters are posted on the OMAF website at: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/organic/news/news-organic.html
New Organic Equivalency Agreement The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has completed a review of the Costa Rica Organic Agriculture Regulation and has deemed equivalency with the Canadian Organic Products Regulations, 2009 (OPR 2009) for agricultural products of plant origin. For more information on the agreement please visit the Recognition of Equivalency with Costa Rica webpage on the CFIA website (www.inspection.gc.ca).
New Resource for Specialty Crop Growers Growers in Ontario have a new resource to help them choose and grow a wide range of specialty crops. The resource, called “SPECIALTY CROPportunities”, has been launched on the OMAF website this month. It was designed with all production systems in mind, including organic. There are literally hundreds of specialty crops that can be grown in Ontario including culinary and medicinal herbs, specialty/ethnic vegetables, specialty fruits and nuts, specialty grains and oilseeds, and industrial crops. Due to limited research and experience with many of these crops, there has been very little written information available to Ontario growers looking for a new crop to grow. The resource is available on the OMAF Crops page at www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/ listed under “specialty crops” or directly at http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/CropOp/en/index.html. We encourage growers to contact us if they have suggestions for new crops to include in the resource or have information to add from their experiences growing and selling any of the specialty crops. Contact information is provided in the resource. This project was funded by Agri-Food and Rural Link, a program of the OMAFRA/University of Guelph Partnership.
Funding Opportunities Growing Forward 2 - Helping You Reach Your Goals Growing Forward 2 (GF2) is a comprehensive federal-provincial-territorial framework aimed at encouraging innovation, competitiveness and market development in Canada's agri-food and agri-products sector. In Ontario, farm, food and bioproducts businesses, collaboration and organizations can build their own plan and select opportunities to help grow their profits, expand their markets and manage risks. With a focus on innovation, competitiveness, and market development, Growing Forward 2 programs are designed to help the industry capitalize on opportunities and contribute to the economy. Whether you are just starting out, or have been in business a long time, Growing Forward 2 will offer practical and flexible programs that can help you reach your goals. Farm businesses, processors and groups can enrol for upcoming Growing Forward 2 programming through the GF2 Client Portal You only need to register once to get access to the full menu of programs and track submitted applications. OMAF and MRA Funding Programs and Support for the Food Industry OMAF and MRA’s Business Development Branch has pulled together relevant funding programs for the food industry and complied them all in one place. Please visit the OMAF and MRA Funding Programs and Support webpage for more information on relevant programs and services: www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/food/industry/funding-prog-index.htm Export Market Access: A Global Expansion Program Export Market Access (EMA) is a $5 million initiative, jointly sponsored by the Government of Ontario and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC). It is designed to help small and medium-sized enterprises SMEs increase their access to global markets. Generally the EMA program will cover 50% of the eligible costs in four specified areas. Non-repayable contributions generally range from a minimum of $5,000 to a maximum of $30,000 (with the exception of capital bidding projects which generally would not exceed $35,000). All of the forms required to submit an application can be accessed, completed and submitted online at http://exportaccess.ca/howtoapply.shtml. You can apply for more than one category and you can apply more than once in a 12-month period. More detailed information, a guide and application forms available at the Export Access website: www.exportaccess.ca
Volume 7 Issue 2
Policy & Regulatory Affairs Update
Content for this update was provided by the Organic Federation of Canada (OFC)/ Fédération biologique du Canada (FBC). The Organic Council of Ontario chooses a representative for OFC which has been established in response to the federal government’s request to be able to communicate with one organic sector on regulatory issues. It also addresses the organic sector’s commitment to a voice and responsibility in the ongoing development of organic standards and regulations. The OFC/FBC is registered as a not-for-profit organization to advance federal policy dialogue from the perspective of the organic sector. Ted Zettel is OCO’s current representative on the federation as well as the Chair of the OFC.
2013-2015 Standards Review In Canada, organic operators meet every five years to review the standard that guides their daily work. The 2013-2015 review of the Canadian Organic Standards will be decisive for the future of the Canadian organic industry. All organic stakeholders are encouraged to invest time and financial support to ensure that the review results in a coherent and relevant standard. Visit the Standards Review 2013-2015 section of the OFC website to learn how you can financially support the revision of the Canadian Organic Standards, or to join one of the Working Groups participating in the COS review or contact the OFC for more information on the COS review project.
COS Review – Working Groups back to work The review of the Canadian Organic Standards will be launched soon. This review is a very important activity for the Canadian sector as the standard is referenced by the Canadian Organic Products Regulations. More importantly, it defines the principles and accepted practices for organic production and guides the daily work of Canadian certified operators. Because of funding cycles the whole review will have to be completed inside a two-year time frame; so time is precious and the sector has to start organizing itself. The Working Groups responsible for analyzing requests for amendments made by the sector are now being re-activated in order to launch the discussions about requests for amendments. Are you interested in continuing your participation on a COS Review Working Group, or are you interested in applying to join a WG? If yes, please contact the OFC, at email@example.com , 514-488-6192. The basic Work Groups are: - 32.310 Organic Standard: Crop WG, Livestock WG, and Processing WG - 32.311 Permitted Substances List: PSL Crop WG, PSL Livestock WG, and PSL Processing WG Organic related skills and expertise wanted: - Organic farming or processing - Materials/Chemical substances - Veterinary medicine/nutrition and supplements - Apiary - Environmental - Animal welfare Participation in Working Groups is voluntary and not paid; the WG meetings are held by toll-free teleconference. Time commitment: Up to one 2hour call every second week, depending on need. The Chairs of the WGs will coordinate the work and agenda of the meetings and CGSB will provide secretarial assistance. Working Group Chairs selection will be finalized for each WG once funding is secured. Payment of honorarium for WG Chairs is currently depending on the approval of an OFC application for funding under an AAFC program. More info coming soon. You don’t have to be a member of the Technical Committee (CGSB Committee on Organic Agriculture) to participate to the WG meetings. The CGSB is responsible for re-establishing the Technical Committee and will do so once the review workplan will be finalized. Do not hesitate to contact OFC if you need additional information! Your participation in the COS review is important! 514-488-6192 firstname.lastname@example.org
Market & Consumer Trends
Canada’s organic market now worth $3.7 billion “We are pleased to see growing consumer demand and impressive sales growth from mainstream retail to direct-toApril 12, 2013 (Ottawa) – Canada’s organic market grew to consumer channels,” stated Rebecca Kneen, Co-President of $3.7 billion in 2012, with national sales of certified organic the Certified Organic Associations of BC. food and non-alcoholic beverages reaching $3 billion. The value of the Canadian organic food market has tripled since Funding for this research has been provided through Loblaw 2006, far outpacing the growth rate of other agri-food sec- Companies, Taste of Nature, UNFI Canada, Whole Foods tors. A diverse consumer base is driving the sector, with Market and the Organic Sector Development Program (OSDP). Funding for the OSDP comes from Agriculture and 58% of all Canadians buying organic products every week. Agri-Food Canada’s Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Pro“At the industry’s urging, the government implemented strict gram, which is delivered by the Investment Agriculture Founnational standards and label requirements in 2009 to uphold dation in British Columbia. consumer confidence in organic claims,” said Matthew Holmes, Executive Director of the Canada Organic Trade COTA will have a detailed national market and consumer Association, “so it’s tremendously gratifying to see this re- analysis available in September 2013. sult in such strong market growth and continued consumer The full BC report and national highlights are available at commitment to organic.” www.ota-canada.ca. In BC, the focus of the first phase of research, two-thirds of consumers—and over three-quarters of Vancouverites—are Contact: Shauna MacKinnon, Projects and Development buying organic groceries weekly. BC generated 23% of the Manager, Canada Organic Trade Association value of the national organic food and beverage market, with strong sales across distribution channels. Growth driven by broad-scale support of organic foods
Canada’s National Event is Almost Here! Let’s Celebrate! Come join us as we kick off the 4th Annual Organic Week this September. A huge success last year, Organic Week attracts key retailers, businesses, producers, and farmers in the sector. It’s the perfect venue to showcase your products and position your brand.
Get Engaged with Ontario Organics!
Volume 7 Issue 2
Inputs Directory Launched by Organic Groups The Organic Federation of Canada, working with Canadian Organic Growers, Organic Council of Ontario, the Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network, and Peppersoft Inc., (a young software development company that specializes in serving the organic community) have launched an active website housing a searchable database of Brand Name inputs for use in organic production: http://organicinputs.ca. This is the long-awaited, universal, national list that the organic movement has been wanting and needing since the beginning. So far, the database combines products listed on the official Quebec directory, the ACORN list from Atlantic Canada, and products approved by CB’s that have already chosen to cooperate by sending us their lists. We need your help in making this the go-to service for finding compliant inputs. While filling out your application for certification can you send the list of products you will be using this year to email@example.com ? Also, encourage your certifier to get on board, and spread the word that the directory is up and running.
Organic Uses Pest Control…So Why Is That Any Different Than Mass Agriculture? by Jodi Koberinski, June 11, 2013 A recent post by the Organic Council of Ontario linked to an article discussing the health benefits of organic foods. While there are many arguments on both sides of the organic and health debate, an often cited benefit of organic foods is that they are not exposed to synthetic pesticides and herbicides. One often heard rebuttal to this argument suggests that because organic agriculture also uses pest control, it cannot claim to be healthier for this reason. As this is often a source of some confusion, I wrote this blog to shine some light on this argument and bring understanding to the organic process Pest control is used in all agricultural systems. In organic production, we don’t allow the use of chemical fertilizer, fungicide, pesticide or herbicides. Some of our crop protection tools are “synthesized” from natural sources – such as BT as a foliar spray. To guide our sector we have developed, and utilize, a permitted substances list, managed by the CGSB, which you can find here . Keeping synthetic pesticides out of organic farming systems reduces the load of agri-toxins in both the food produced for consumption the overall environment. Are some of the materials we permit toxic in certain doses? Absolutely (copper being the one folks who doubt the value of organic love to raise). The use of such compounds is however, strictly regulated and requires a transparent audit trail when such management tools being applied. There are those who will take issue with some of the pest controls we allow or don’t allow under the current system. Organic is a system of continual improvement, and many organic farmers choose to go above and beyond the Organic Standard in regulating the substances they use. However, the more important point here is that the focus of organic is not on applying substitutes for chemical management tools that are less benign- rather, organic focuses on soil fertility and health, ecosystem health and working with nature to bring a state of harmony to the farm. Organic farmers work to establish healthy farm ecosystems so there are no niches for pests to take hold of. Pest control is weighted toward prevention rather than eradication once a problem emerges. And when problems do emerge, organic farmers reach for a host of pest management tools that meet the strict guidelines and vetting process established through the Permitted Substances List.
A reminder to check www.organiccouncil.ca/news for breaking news releases from OCO staff, as well as other organizations and media —www.organiccouncil.ca/news. Have something to share? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the OCO office.
Organic Options Keep Growing by Ralph C. Martin, Guelph, ON, Printed in the Guelph Mercury
shown by David Hula of Virginia in a U.S. National Corn Growers Association competition. Some Ontario farmers regularly exceed 200 bushels per acre, and 300 bushels per acre is the new goal to beat.
I am often asked if there would be enough food in the world if every farmer was an organic one. My answer is Feed conversion ratios are also remarkable. It used to down to four words: “Possibly, but not probably.” take more than six kilograms of feed to produce each If everyone along the value chain from suppliers to kilogram of meat in a broiler chicken, and now it takes farmers and other producers, processors, distributors, less than two kilograms of feed for the same result. retailers and most importantly, consumers, committed However, there is very little extra efficiency to be to an organic system, I think it would be possible for wrung from feed conversion. organic agriculture to feed the world. In such a world, there would have to be much less than the current 40 The productivity of organic farmers has also evolved and some of them are growing 160 bushels corn per per cent food waste and more people would derive acre too. Furthermore, the demand for organic protein from low fat, high-fibre pulses (legumes) than from meat. Fewer food crops could be designated for products in Canada has grown by 300 per cent since 2006, and by late 2012 was at $3.7 billion, according to quasi-food such as sugar-sweetened beverages. the Canadian Organic Trade Association Probably most people will continue not to choose ( www.ota.com/otacanada/stats.html). organic sources of food. In Canada, about 98 per cent In Canada, organic agriculture is not as prominent as in of food purchases are non-organic. some European countries like Denmark and Austria, Mainstream agriculture has been very successful at but the national organic standard was implemented in improving yields. In rural Ontario, it is well known that 2009 and scientific research to support organic average corn yields quadrupled from about 40 bushels production has grown. per acre to about 160 bushels per acre over the last The first organic science cluster (oacc.info/OSC/ 100 years. It is still not clear how high average yields osc_welcome.asp), sponsored by Agriculture and Agrican reach. Food Canada and industry contributors, topped $8 If growing conditions are excellent and all inputs are million, and the second cluster is expected to be larger. provided, corn can yield up to 429 bushels per acre, as
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A Reminder: Foodland Ontario Organic A Foodland Ontario marketing survey conducted in 2011 indicated that more than one-quarter of shoppers surveyed would buy organic more often if they knew it was from Ontario. To appeal to Ontario consumers who shop for organic products and help them to choose Ontario organic foods first, Foodland Ontario has a new resource for producers and processors to identify their food as both certified organic and local. Producers and processors who want to use the logo on their promotional and marketing materials will need to verify that their products are certified to the Canadian Organic Standard as well as meet the Ontario food definitions found on the Foodland Ontario website: http://www.foodland.gov.on.ca/english/ industry/ind-definitions.html. A reminder that this logo is available! The Foodland Ontario logo is recognized by 9 out of 10 principal grocery shoppers in Ontario and it is still the best way to help shoppers identify local Ontario food. In 2007, the program was expanded to include meat, dairy products, eggs and specialty foods. For more information on how to get the Foodland Ontario Organic logo, contact the Client Services Officer, Sandra Jones, at email@example.com or 519-826-3947 (toll free 1-888-466-2372 ext. 63947).
Volume 7 Issue 2
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13 Organic farmers were challenged by their neighbours about too much tillage and now, with research support, many of them practise reduced tillage while still incorporating manure and compost and maintaining forages and cover crops in crop rotations. On the other hand, to reduce costs, some mainstream farmers adopt typical organic weed control methods. All farmers cherish choices within their selected systems and understand that neighbours have a right to farm their way.
Organic agriculture was guided by pioneers dedicated to lower input production and a keen sense of the precautionary principle. They have been slow to adopt some new technologies, and yet science applies just as much to organic agriculture as it does to agriculture at large. Well-designed research experiments based on sound research questions lead to useful scientific results for organic agriculture. Science can include respectful inquiries within the context of traditional and We are fortunate that Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, even indigenous systems. the Organic Council of Ontario, scientists, innovative When we set up the Organic Agriculture Centre of entrepreneurs and others are showing leadership in Canada in 2001, some advised us that a focus on developing positive organic food options for Ontario sustainable or ecological agriculture, rather than citizens. organic agriculture, would be more inclusive. Our decision to put university research and teaching efforts Customers in Toronto and other cities want organic food, with 58 per cent of all Canadians buying some into organic agriculture in Canada was based on the organic system being well defined along the whole value organic products every week. chain. The definition and standards, backed up by the Why should organic products come from outside Canadian Food Inspection Agency, clarify and offer Canada, if we can grow them here? It makes sense for opportunities for system analysis. However, the line the value of this expanding market to accrue to farmers circumscribing organic agriculture is dotted. It does not and others along our value chain at home. exclude organic agriculture from the overall economy and society, nor from mainstream agriculture. Ralph C. Martin is the Loblaw chair, sustainable food Organic agriculture has far more in common than it has production, and a professor at the Ontario Agricultural differences with non-organic agriculture. It is based on College at the University of Guelph. Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org. similar traditions and information flows both ways.
Sponsorship Opportunities: Bring Food Home Conference OCO and Sustain Ontario are looking for sponsorship for the bi-annual Bring Food Home Conference. This yearâ€™s conference will take place in Windsor, Ontario, on November 17th â€“19th, 2013. Details on sponsorship packages and benefits are available at http://bringfoodhome.com/partners/. Contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
GFTC Legacy Fund – $1.5 Million Funding Initiative For Canadian Food Producers and Processors be considered over the coming weeks/months on a rolling basis and there are finite dollars to allocate, time is of the The GFTC Legacy Fund (“GLF”) was established in 2013 after essence for those parties that are considering submitting the merger of Guelph Food Technology Centre (“GFTC”) proposals. with NSF International. Guelph Food Technology Centre Specific details required for investment proposals include the (“GFTC”), was established in 1994 as an independent, not-for following: -profit corporation with a vision to contribute to the growing competitiveness of the Canadian Food Industry. In 2013, 1. Submit a 1-2 page (maximum) written proposal to GLF, GFTC merged with NSF International to become one of the outlining the request and how it fits within the preferred largest food safety certifiers in the world. Today, the investment criteria outlined herein. Upon review, GLF may combined NSF/GFTC is a global, independent, not-for-profit request a more comprehensive submission if an opportunity organization committed to protecting and improving human is to be considered in more detail. health and the environment on a global scale, providing 2. Identify the proposal sponsor and beneficiaries; services in standards development, product certification, 3. State the dollar value of the request, use of proceeds, auditing, education, and risk management. One of NSF/ proposed structure and timing of any financial support; GFTC’s primary areas of focus remains the Food Industry. 4. Outline the financial contribution that the proposal sponsors and/or beneficiaries will make towards the Like GFTC, the GLF’s mission is to help Canadian food proposed initiative (cash and/or ‘in-kind’ investment); and, processors and manufacturers to be competitive and highly 5. Indicate the anticipated outcomes, benefits and timelines. successful in their markets through the use of technical Preference will be given to those investment proposals that expertise, technology and innovative solutions that improve include the following: their people, processes and products. To help carryout this 1. Initiatives that would result in material benefits mission, GLF is committing more than $6 million to be (productivity, innovation, commercialization or sustainability) invested in various academic scholarships and Food Industry to a meaningful number of Canadian food producers or initiatives over the next 5 years. processors and details on how food producers or processors GLF has set aside up to $1.5 million to be invested over the could access those benefits; next year in initiatives aimed at enhancing productivity, 2. Proposals that demonstrate a meaningful financial innovation, commercialization and sustainability for Food contribution on the part of the sponsors and/or beneficiaries Processors in Canada. GLF intends to make this $1.5 million – significant ‘skin-in-the-game’; capital accessible to fund initiatives that can demonstrate 3. While this investment initiative is not intended to promote material benefits to a meaningful number of food producers in activities that will exclusively benefit small and medium the Canadian Food Industry. While this investment initiative is enterprises (“SME”), some emphasis will be given to those intended to promote activities that may benefit Canadian proposals that demonstrate how a proposed investment will food producers of any size, GLF recognizes that specific help SME’s be more productive and innovative to enhance productivity and innovation advancements that help small and competitiveness; medium enterprises (“SME”) in-turn can help the entire 4. High level of transparency and accountability around the Canadian Food Industry to expand and be more competitive use of proceeds, results of any investments and availability of on an international basis. The targeted individual investment benefits to the end users (i.e., adequate reporting, suitable size ranges from $25,000 – $300,000. GLF is inviting performance metrics to measure progress and effectiveness, interested parties to submit proposals for consideration. appropriate supervision, etc.); and, Funds may be allocated as grants, loans or equity investments 5. Canadian-based involvement, content, employment, depending on the circumstance, merits and level of risk to be ownership, etc. taken-on. Proposals should be submitted in writing to John Hamilton, GLF welcomes proposals from business consortiums, industry President, GFTC Legacy Fund. associations, research groups, education institutions, c/o email@example.com companies and individuals; however, GLF is not obligated to 905-334-0708 solicit submissions or include any submissions from any specific party in its final evaluation. Given that proposals will For Canadian Food Producers and Processors:
Volume 7 Issue 2
Transforming Crop Nutrition one Farm at a Time By Mary E. Wales, Guelph, May 2nd, 2013 At Agriculture Solutions Inc., Dave de Vries and his team believe in success – one farm at a time. The Elora-based company helps farmers develop production plans catered to their location, crops, available soil nutrients and more. “There isn’t a crop that we don’t work with,” states de Vries, “we aim to get to the root of problems and promote optimal soil and plant health for long term solutions that build organic matter and improve soil biology.” While working as a soil and crop consultant for 10 years, de Vries has been involved with both conventional and organic farmers in the US and Canada ranging from 1 acre backyard gardening plots to farms of up to 25, 000 acres in size. “It became quite clear that many farmers were dissatisfied with disease and insect pressure problems,” he notes. “They believed that the only answers were chemical treatment and, even though many farmers consistently work with chemicals, they do it uncomfortably.” Agriculture Solutions Inc. regularly hosts meetings to bring forward information and teach farmers how various biological techniques can be applied to individual farms to reduce the use of chemicals and improve quality and yield. When asked what Agriculture Solution Inc.’s most popular product is, de Vries looked slightly perplexed. That’s because the company is more focused on transferring knowledge and providing services about soil and plant nutrition to farmers than on selling products. Staff at Agricultural Solutions Inc. work with individual farmers to develop a systematic approach by using tailored methods based on soil and tissue analysis, refractometer readings, as well as pH and nitrate testing. A small fraction of the company’s clients are organic growers, although the majority would be considered conventional. De Vries stresses that the concerns of organic and conventional farmers are actually quite similar and how most conventional farmers are not satisfied with the ‘quick-fix’ approach to farming. “We want to bring hope to organic farmers while also helping conventional farmers realize they don’t have to rely on synthetic chemicals to achieve high yields.” The company has an active customer base of over 300 farms and demand for their services is certainly on the rise. Their next information session is planned on August 22nd. The location will be announced on the company’s web site. Call 1855-247-6548 for more information or watch for updates on their website at www.agriculturesolutions.ca.
Board of Directors 2013 Matt LeBeau Chair LeBeau Advance
Jenn Pfenning Vice Chair Pfennings Organic Farm
Tom Manley Director Homestead Organics
Ted Zettel Director, Regulatory Affairs Organic Meadow Cooperative
John Devlin Treasurer University of Guelph
Francesca Rivas Secretary
Member at Large
Dave Lockman Director Pro-Cert Ltd.
Lisa Jones Director The Stone Store
Shauna Bloom Director
Direct to Consumer Representative Association Representative
Ecological Farmers of Ontario
Jacob Pries Membership :
Lesley Bulman Accounting
Julianna van Adrichem
Phone: 519.827.1221 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org web: www.organiccouncil.ca
The Organic Council of Ontario and its members represent Ontarioâ€™s organic farmers, producers, processors, marketers, distributors, retailers, restaurants, certifiers and others. OCO provides leadership and support for the continued growth of the organic sector.
About this publication: Organic Focus is the quarterly newsletter sent to OCO members. Email Mary@organiccouncil.ca for more info.
Interns 2013 Leah Sprague
Guelph, ON N1H 6J2
OCO works with media, government, national bodies and represents Ontario within the Organic Federation of Canada.
Staff 2013 Jodi Koberinski Executive Director:
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Caitlin Bragg Communications
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