Canadian Organic Standards Review: Public Comment Period Coming in June

The latest update from the Organic Federation of Canada, as published in the Info-Bio May 2019 Newsletter.

The Technical Committee on Organic Agriculture (TC) held its last meeting Thursday May 16th, a three-hour teleconference during which some critical issues, such as parallel production, outdoor access for poultry, calculation of the percentage of organic ingredients in processed products composed of liquid and solid ingredients, and permitted substances in crop production, were discussed.

Launched in September 2018, the review process will now enter a new phase: the public comment period during which all stakeholders and the public will have the opportunity to issue comments on the proposed modifications to the Canadian Organic Standards. The OFC, the Chairs of the Working Groups, the secretaries and consultants involved in the process are now preparing two drafts of the CAN/CGSB-32.310 and CAN/CGSB-32.311 standards that include all the proposed modifications, one with and one without tracked changes.

About the Review

  • Over 220 modifications were proposed under the review process and analyzed by the Working Groups (WGs).
  • The WGs have participated in 85 teleconferences; their recommendations were submitted to the voting members of the Technical Committee.
  • The public comment period will be launched in June; the TC has proposed to have a 90-day period instead of the usual 60-day period as it will be launched in the growing season when producers are very busy.
  • At the end of the public comment period, all comments issued by the public will be analyzed by the Chairs of the WGs; they will assess if some issues are presented back to their WGs (i.e., when the comments are pertinent and were never considered in the previous round of teleconferences).
  • The ballot will be held when all comments are addressed and when the final proposed modifications are inserted in the draft that will be circulated to the voting members of the TC. Each TC member votes privately, and returns the ballot by email to Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB).
  • If the vote is positive, the CGSB will have the standard process ratified by the National Standard of Canada, and the standard will be published (by November 2020).
  • Operators will have one year to comply with the revised standards and implement the revised practices and inputs in their organic plan.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is funding the review process, along with a study on funding mechanisms for the future funding of the maintenance and review of the Canadian Organic Standards that the OFC will share with the industry very soon! The required industry matching funding is covered by the in-kind contributions of the WG participants and the expenses incurred by the voting members of the TC who have attended the 2.5-day meeting held in March in Ottawa. But these funding resources are exhausted and ended March 31st. The OFC will launch a campaign to fund the other phases of the review process. More to come!

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