Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario Commentary
By Brooke Wareing, CFFO Communications Intern
Organic Week, which ran from Sept. 16-24 this year, celebrates farmers, consumers and processors involved in the organic agriculture system. The market for organics in Ontario is now more than $1.4 billion per year and is growing by about 10 percent annually.
As market demand rises for organic produce and goods, organic farming has become an increasingly prevalent aspect of modern agriculture. Organic Week facilitates many opportunities to learn more about the industry. Workshops, canning demonstrations and community potlucks are among a few of the events that have been held this week, allowing producers and consumers to learn more about this unique and emerging form of agriculture.
Organic farming bears its own unique set of challenges. In Ontario, food producers who trade within Ontario are legally permitted to call their food “organic” without certification. This lack of regulation in the province undermines the strength and consistency of the term “organic” and weakens market share for those who have taken on the added costs of certification associated with organic farming.
This fall, a private member’s bill will be introduced in the Ontario legislature, proposing regulation of the term “organic” and the creation of a registry for certified organic products.
According to the Organic Council of Ontario, “Organic regulation will create a more level playing field for organic businesses in Ontario and protect consumers.”
These proposed changes in regulation will ensure that the term “organic” has consistency, accuracy and fairness for both consumers and producers.
All organic producers would be required to adhere to the same standards and practices. Consumers will have a more transparent understanding of what it means to be certified organic, knowing that all products have been approved and held to high standards.
The Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario has written in support of this proposed legislation. The CFFO supports clear labelling and believes that consumers should be able to make educated decisions about the products they purchase and consume. These changes to regulation in Ontario would widen the opportunity for local organic producers to market outside the province, would benefit consumers, and strengthen the system as a whole.
Once seen as a niche or strictly small farm operation, organic farming is changing and evolving rapidly alongside mainstream agriculture. Whether you choose to farm organically or not, or reach for organic produce at the supermarket or not, it is important to stay informed regarding all types of farming. The CFFO recognizes the diversity of agriculture and celebrates our opportunities to make informed, diverse decisions.