Organic farming is big business

Organic farming has been around in Ontario for several decades and continues to grow. Retail sales in Canada are more than $1 billion and the U.S. market currently is estimated at $12 billion per year.
The growth of the organic industry is estimated at more than 20 percent per year compared to one percent growth for all retail food sales.
It’s no wonder supermarket chains across North America are into the organic market. In 2001, for instance, the market share for supermarkets surpassed that of the small health food stores.
In Canada, we import more than 85 percent of the organic food products we consume. Fresh fruits and vegetables account for 40-50 percent of the organic products while dairy, meat, processed products, beverages, and convenience foods make up the rest.
Canadian farmers export more than 80 percent of the organic food products we produce.
Across Canada, the value of organic grain production is greater than fresh fruits and vegetable sales. Organic food processing currently is small in Canada, but Ontario is poised for expansion in this area.
In October, 2002, there was considerable press announcing new U.S.D.A. Organic Regulations.
To sell organic product in the U.S. (including Canadian farmers), the farm and processors must be “certified organic” by a certification body that is accredited to the U.S.D.A. National Organic Program (NOP).
Most of the major Canadian Certification Bodies (CB) have acquired this accreditation.
If you are an organic producer and you plan to sell product to the U.S., make sure your CB is aware of this so they can verify that your crop meets the U.S.D.A. standard.
Similarly, when selling product to other countries (the U.K., Europe, Japan, etc.), make sure you know the certification requirements of that market.
When you are certified, the CB should be accredited to those standards and those requirements should be applied to your farm certification.
Many countries of the world have state-regulated standards for organic. Globally, there are many private certifiers of organic food. These various standards are similar, but there are subtle differences.
In many cases, there are equivalency agreements between certification organizations that permit global organic trade.
Canada’s National Organic Standard was first approved in 1999 and now is being updated. Certification to the Canadian standard currently is considered to be voluntary standards under the Standards Council of Canada.
The labelling of organic foods also is included under the CFIA Food Labelling Guidelines.
If the label says it is organic, then it should be “certified organic.” Certification is the assurance to the customer that the product has been produced according to known standards for organic food.
Major markets demand certified organic.
For names and addresses of various certification bodies operating in Ontario, or for more information on certification and organic farming, call the OMAF’s Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300.

Posted in Uncategorized