Organic Council of Ontario Welcomes Food Policy for Canada, Important First Step

GUELPH, ON, July 15, 2019  – The Organic Council of Ontario welcomes the launch of a Food Policy for Canada and applauds this important step towards greater food sovereignty and equity across the country. We look forward to future announcements of stable funding for the maintenance of the Canadian Organic Standards – a key food policy ask from the organic sector that has yet to be implemented. 

The Food Policy for Canada was announced by Minister Bibeau on June 17th, 2019. The announcement follows a recent addition of funding in the 2019 Budget and recommendations in a December 2017 report by The House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food. Food Secure Canada has led advocacy efforts for the policy since 2001, joined by partners Canada Organic Trade Association and Canadian Organic Growers

Both the standing committee report and Food Secure Canada’s policy brief recommend that the Food Policy include ongoing funding for the Canada Organic Regime and support for the growth of organic exports. Food Secure Canada specifically recommends adequate funding to support the technical review of the Canadian Organic Standards.

The Canadian Organic Standards are the backbone of the Canadian organic sector. Without stable funding for review and maintenance, consumer confidence in domestic markets is threatened, as well as the equivalency arrangements that allow Canada to trade in the growing international export market. All of Canada’s major trading partners provide permanent core funding to keep their standards up-to-date. Canada’s industry, by contrast, must pay the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) to update its standards every five years. This puts the Canadian organic sector at a marked disadvantage.

While funding for the last two review processes has come largely from government, this funding has been project-based and ad hoc. For the 2020 review, the federal government provided one time funding of $250,000 to the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) and $255,000 for the Organic Federation of Canada for administration of the review. Industry stakeholders contribute over $150,000 to the technical review in the form of in-kind expertise, time, and travel expenses. The Organic Federation of Canada estimates that the cost to the federal government to fund the recurring review and maintenance would be approximately $800,000 every five years. 

The Organic Council of Ontario joins our industry partners in celebrating the Canadian government’s recent Food Policy and organic funding announcements. We look forward to a commitment to stable funding for the review and maintenance of the organic standards. 

About the Organic Council of Ontario

The Organic Council of Ontario (OCO) is the Voice for Organics in Ontario. It is the only full value chain association operating at the provincial level. OCO represents over 1000 certified organic operators, as well as the businesses, organizations, and individuals that bring food from farm to plate. OCO works to incite sector growth, support research, improve training, increase data collection, encourage market development, protect the integrity of organic claims, and inform the public of the benefits and requirements of organic agriculture. 

Media Contact

Dora Chan, Communications Specialist
Organic Council of Ontario
(519) 827-1221 x102

Amy Hamblin-Smith, Policy & Research Coordinator
Organic Council of Ontario
(519) 827-1221 x103

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