Organic Council Speaks for Small Farms

OCO President Urges OVRTC to Reduce Cost & Complexity of Certification

At the board meeting of the Organic Federation of Canada (OFC) last month, OCO President Tom Manley moved and the board unanimously adopted the resolution that the OFC “press the Government of Canada to adapt the Canada Organic Regulation (COR) to consider the cost and complexity of certification for small farms.”

Both OCO and the OFC recognize that many small farms make valid organic claims without certification because of the cost and the complexity of certification. Following the discussion, the OFC board demonstrated resolve to engage the CFIA on the plight of small farms.
OCO is the voting member on the OFC board representing Ontario, and was represented by Manley at its Feb. 28th board meeting in Ottawa. The OFC manages the national organic standard, hosts the technical interpretation committee, and interfaces with the CFIA on federal organic regulations.

Immediately following the meeting, OCO participated in the annual 2-day meeting of the Organic Value Chain Round table (OVCRT) where national and provincial organic associations, organic farm leaders, and federal and provincial officials collaborate to move the sector forward.

As part of the meeting’s agenda, the CFIA presented the evolution of the COR as it becomes part of the regulations supporting the new Safe Food For Canadians Act. Manley warned the CFIA, with the support of the OVCRT assembly, of regulatory creep and its disproportionate impact on small farms.

“The organic sector wants to be inclusive of all sizes of farms,” explained Tom. “Small organic farms want to abide by the national organic standards. But the cost and the complexity of certification are significant barriers that are driving a wedge into the organic sector and creating two classes of organic. As part of the current regulatory review, we need to adapt the COR to consider the cost and complexity of certification for small farms.”

OCO is cautiously pleased to report that the CFIA representatives appeared to be open to the concept of a streamlined certification for small farms. In conversation with the OVCRT delegates, they explored different ways to assess certification risks on small farms and the potential for an intra-provincial marketing scope for a streamlined certification. All parties pledged to pursue the conversation further in future.

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