Canadian Organic Growers (COG) our nature is organic Organic Agriculture In Canada
Canadian Organic Growers (COG)our nature is organic www.cog.ca • COG is a not for profit charitable organization with 15 chapters across the country and two affiliated regional organic organizations • Funding comes from members, governments, foundations and publications sales • COG’s mandate is to lead local and national communities towards sustainable organic stewardship of land, food and fibre while respecting nature, upholding social justice and protecting natural resources.
Organic What it is • Organic agriculture is a holistic production system designed to optimize productivity and encourage diversity in the agro-ecosystem, including soil microorganisms, plants and animals • The principal goal of organic production is to develop enterprises that are sustainable and harmonious with the environment
Organic What it isn’t • No synthetic chemicals including pesticides, fertilizers, hormones, and antibiotics • No genetically-modified organisms (GMO’s) • No irradiation • No sewage sludge • No synthetic processing substances, aids and ingredients, and food additives including sulphates, nitrates and nitrites
Number of certified organic producers in Canada Source: Certified Organic Production reports 1992-2005, Anne Macey for Canadian Organic Growers
Organic producers by region Source: Certified Organic Production in Canada 2005, Anne Macey for Canadian Organic Growers
Number of acres in organic production Source: Certified Organic Production in Canada 2005, Anne Macey for Canadian Organic Growers
Type of Production by province AB BC SK QC ON MB Atlantic Canada
Number of certified organic processors and handlers Source: Certified Organic Production in Canada 2005, Anne Macey for Canadian Organic Growers
Organic Sales in Canada Source: Retail Sales of Certified Organic Food Products in Canada, May 2007, data collected by The Nielson Company and compiled by Anne Macey for the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada • Total Canadian retail sales of organic products through all market channels was $1 billion in 2006 ($412 million through retail channels, representing close to 1% of total retail food sales) • Retail sales expanded by 28% from 2005 to 2006 • British Columbia residents purchased 26% of the organic food sold at retail in 2006 • AB showed the largest annual growth in retail sales, with a 44% increase, followed by BC and the Maritimes (34%), ON (24%) and QC (21%)
Sales of Organic Food Categories Source: Retail Sales of Certified Organic Food Products in Canada, May 2007, data collected by The Nielson Company and compiled by Anne Macey for the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada
Rate of growth by category Source: Retail Sales of Certified Organic Food Products in Canada, May 2007, data collected by The Nielson Company and compiled by Anne Macey for the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada
Imported vs. domestic Source: Retail Sales of Certified Organic Food Products in Canada, May 2007, data collected by The Nielson Company and compiled by Anne Macey for the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada • Of the 2676 food items examined by Nielson, 47% were labelled as grown, packaged or processed in Canada and 51% were imported (2% were unknown) • There were some notable exceptions to this pattern: 100% of milk and bread was domestic, followed by yogurt, cheese, jams and jellies, flour and tofu
Drivers for increased organic sales Source: Snapshot Organics, AB government 2001 • Higher input costs • Low prices for conventional commodities • Increased consumer emphasis on health and nutrition • Consumer concerns about food safety, environmental protection, GMOs • Entry of mainstream food marketers such as General Mills, Heinz, Kellogs and McDonalds
Risk mitigation in organic systemsFood safety and health • Organic food production and processing must comply with all existing legislation • Organic agriculture is based on the precautionary principal. It has an unparalleled traceability system and a limited list of permitted substances • The absence of pesticides means reduced health risks for farm workers and their children. Risks such as cancer and even death have been related to chronic and acute pesticide exposure. • Prohibition against GMOs, irradiation, and chemical pesticides positions organics as the safer option in the eyes of consumers • Since antibiotics are banned, except as a last resort, organic agriculture has a lower risk of contributing to antibiotic resistance
Environmental benefits of organic farming systems • Ban on the use of synthetic fertilizers means that organic agriculture contributes less to eutrophication of water sources • The ban on chemical pesticides reduces water pollution and the risk to soil and other wildlife • Research shows that farms managed organically support a greater diversity and volume of biodiversity • Organic systems foster soil building, development of soil microfauna and decrease soil loss • Organic systems use energy more efficiently • Greater use of cover crops in organic systems means organic farms collect 1.8 times the solar energy of conventional farms and protect against soil erosion and water runoff
Agronomic benefits of organic farming systems • Organically managed soils can better handle both drought and flooding due to improved soil structure and organic matter • The diversified cropping systems found in organic agriculture can help prevent outbreaks of pests and disease • Non-reliance on chemical methods of insect control protect the organic farmer from pesticide resistance • The use of compost in organic systems increases soil microbe abundance and diversity and can result in decreased plant disease • A long term study by the Rodale institute showed that organically managed soils can have higher soil nitrogen levels than conventionally managed soils (47% vs. 17%).
Financial benefits of organic farming systems • Input costs for organic agriculture are significantly lower, though for some commodities such as vegetable production, labour costs can be higher • Organic agriculture commands a price premium that is dependent on commodity and sales channel • The diverse crop rotations used by organic farmers can reduce financial risk and reduce the variability of farm income from year to year • Improved organic matter and microbial activity mean improved yields and crop quality (compared to conventional) during poor weather years
Cost of Production Source: Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture in IOWA
Organic Products Regulations • Following a cost-benefit analysis and extensive consultations with the sector, the federal government passed a regulation in 2006, which will come into force in December 2008. • The regulation applies to organic products that cross interprovincial and international boundaries. Provincial governments are responsible for regulating food sold within a province. BC and QC are currently the only provinces with their own regulations. • The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is the competent authority in charge of establishing accreditation bodies. These agencies will accredit certification bodies to certify farms and processing facilities. • Certified organic agricultural products containing >95% certified organic ingredients can carry the Canada Organic logo.
The Organic Standard • The Canadian Organic Standard was developed by the industry through a Canadian General Standards Board process in1999. • The Organic Standard is a strict code of practices which governs organic farming • Certifying bodies hire trained third party inspectors to verify that farms and processing facilities are following the standard
Organic Certification • ~25 Organic Certification Agencies accredited by 4 internationally recognized third party accreditors • All require an Organic Farm Plan based on the Precautionary Principle (exclusion of worst known toxins) • The Organic Farm Plan is a Systems approach to preventative measures
References Hole, D.G., Perkins, A.J., Alexander, I.H., Grice, P.V. and Evans, A.D. (2004) Does organic farming benefit biodiversity? Biological Conservation, 122, 113-130 David Pimentel, Cornell University. Impacts of organic farming on the efficiency of energy use in agriculture. An Organic Center State of Science Review, 2006 The Nielsen Company, May 2007, More than half of Canadian households purchased organics in 2006. Nielsen discovers heightened consumer awareness and increased demand towards organic foods. http://ca.acnielsen.com/news/20070514.shtml Canadian Organic Growers Organic Production Statistics 2005 Glenlea Study, Canada’s oldest organic-conventional comparative cropping study www.umanitoba.ca/afs/plant_science/glenlea/glenlearesresults.html