Sep 11, 2020
Canada invests $640K in organic growers
Stephen Kloosterman

Canadian officials on Sept. 10 rolled out $640,000 in funding for Canadian Organic Growers (COG) to help get more domestic consumers.

A press conference and photo op were held at Chelsea Market, during Canada’s National Organic Week, an annual event to showcase and celebrate organic food farming and products across the country.

Annual retail sales of certified organic products in Canada are approximately $6.38 billion, according to a news release from Agriculture and Agri-food Canada. Sales have increased by almost $3 billion since 2012. Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, 13% more Canadians are buying local food more often and almost three-quarters are deliberately buying Canadian.

Member of parliament William Amos said that organic growers had a reason to celebrate.

“This strategy will help the organic industry seize new opportunities to ensure Canadian consumers have access to Canadian organic food,” he said.

About 5,800 certified organic and transitional producers are working on 3.3 million acres of land in Canada.

Canadian Organic Growers Board of Directors President Gillian Flies said the industry-wide project was vital for the country.

“Gaining an understanding of the barriers that exist between organic farmers and consumers will help the organic industry meet the growing demand for organic food in Canada and abroad, and play a prominent role in Canada’s economic recovery,” she said. “This project will also help Canada advance action on climate change through its support for sustainable agriculture practices and the Canadian farmers on the front lines of the climate crisis.”

Canada’s imports of organic goods were valued at $789 million in 2019. Top imported organic products include coffee, bananas, and strawberries. Other imported organic products include blueberries, spinach and tomatoes.

With the new funding, COG will develop a strategy to identify and find solutions to organic supply chain barriers so that Canadian organic producers can realize their full economic potential and more Canadian consumers can buy locally produced Canadian organic food, according to the release. Strategy recommendations will be assessed and evaluated by an independent industry-wide national advisory committee and a final report will be published that will explore investment opportunities to meet domestic demands and recommendations on how to best seize the opportunities. The report will also help quantify the economic and environmental benefits of increasing domestic organic production and supply chains.

“Demand for organic food is growing rapidly and we want to ensure that it is Canadian producers who are benefitting from that increased demand,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

Photo: William Amos/Twitter

Stephen Kloosterman is the managing editor of Organic Grower.

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