Organic: What’s in a Word?

Organic Week runs from September 16th-24th and celebrates farmers, consumers and processors involved in the organic agriculture system. The market for organics in Ontario is now more than $1.4 billion per year and is growing by about 10 percent annually.

As market demand rises for organic produce and goods, organic farming has become an increasingly prevalent aspect of modern agriculture. Organic Week facilitates many opportunities to learn more about the industry. Workshops, canning demonstrations and community potlucks are among a few of the events that have been held this week, allowing producers and consumers to learn more about this unique and emerging form of agriculture.

Organic farming bears its own unique set of challenges. In Ontario, food producers who trade within Ontario are legally permitted to call their food “organic” without certification. This lack of regulation in the province undermines the strength and consistency of the term “organic” and weakens market share for those who have taken on the added costs of certification associated with organic farming.

This fall, a private member’s bill will be introduced in the Ontario legislature, proposing regulation of the term “organic” and the creation of a registry for certified organic products. According to the Organic Council of Ontario, “Organic regulation will create a more level playing field for organic businesses in Ontario and protect consumers.” These proposed changes in regulation will ensure that the term “organic” has consistency, accuracy and fairness for both consumers and producers. All organic producers would be required to adhere to the same standards and practices. Consumers will have a more transparent understanding of what it means to be certified organic, knowing that all products have been approved and held to high standards.

The Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario has written in support of this proposed legislation. The CFFO supports clear labelling and believes that consumers should be able to make educated decisions about the products they purchase and consume. These changes to regulation in Ontario would widen the opportunity for local organic producers to market outside the province, would benefit consumers, and strengthen the system as a whole.

Once seen as a niche or strictly small farm operation, organic farming is changing and evolving rapidly alongside mainstream agriculture. Whether you choose to farm organically or not, or reach for organic produce at the supermarket or not, it is important to stay informed regarding all types of farming. The CFFO recognizes the diversity of agriculture and celebrates our opportunities to make informed, diverse decisions.

______________________________________________________________________________________

Brooke Wareing is Communications Intern for the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy. The CFFO Commentary is heard weekly on CFCO Chatham, CKXFM Chatham, CKNX Wingham, and UCB Canada radio stations in Chatham, Belleville, Bancroft, Brockville and Kingston.

Posted by Brooke Wareing on September 22, 2017

Tags: ,

2 Comments

  • Sabi Ahsan says:

    Regulation is rarely about helping the consumer. More often than not, it is a way to kill the family farm through over regulation and support big businesses where the overhead cost is not just insignificant, it creates barriers to entry for the little guy. I think that CFFO has not thought this one through.

    • Laura Northey says:

      Hi Sabi,

      Thanks for your comments. I just wanted to follow up on this on behalf of the Organic Council of Ontario. You’re concerns are justified, which is why we are currently embarking on an initiative to look for solutions to the very problem of “barriers to entry” for small-scale producers. Some of the many possibilities include transitional support payments, “low-risk” designation programs for small-scale farms (as in BC), and peer-review/ participatory guarantee systems.

      The need for a solution to this issue is something that was thoroughly considered in the writing of this Bill. Much room was left in the proposed legislation for the creation of a made-in-Ontario solution that will address the very concerns you voice here.

      More info available at organiccouncil.ca/regulation, and we plan to share more info on the topic in future. Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter if you wish to remain informed on the progress of the Bill (https://www.facebook.com/OrganicCouncilofOntario/ and @orgcouncil).

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *