April 10, 2014 - The Certified Organic Association of BC (COABC) is the voice for the organic Agriculture Sector in the province, with a membership of 650 operations across BC. COABC feels there was not adequate consultation with farmers before the introduction of Bill 24 and does not support the loss of agricultural land from the ALR, particularly in the North and Kootenays.
"The highest percentage of acreage in organic production is in the North. If we lose any of our grain producing land in Northern BC it will impact our ability as a province to have agriculture as a high income producer." states Susan Snow, Co-Chair of COABC.
The COABC agrees with the latest statement from the BC Food Systems Network that BC must protect its Northern agricultural land for the food security of the entire province. According to BC Ministry of Agriculture statistics, the province of British Columbia is not even producing 50% of its current food requirements. Areas in the North and in the Kootenays are the only acreages left that can be brought into more intensive production to meet the rising demand for local food.
"We believe that consumers want the cleanest, healthiest food that farmers can grow," Snow proclaims. "Any type of non-farm activity around agriculture increases the possibility of pollution of water, land and air."
In addition, COABC would like to see small parcels of agricultural land embraced and not marginalized. It is not fair that smaller plots of agriculture land need a higher income per acre than larger operations to receive the tax breaks. Many of our members are making their living farming small plots. We can’t afford to be giving away productive or marginally productive land. Once it’s given away, we are not going to get it back.
2014 Western Canadian Organic Business Directory - Now Available!
A partnership between Organic Alberta, Saskatchewan Organic Directorate (SOD), Manitoba Organic Alliance (MOA) & Certified Organic Association of British Columbia (COABC), the directory lists all companies that provide services or processed products to businesses in the organic sector. From the producer to the retailer, the directory connects the Western Canadian organic sector.
This directory is being distributed by the provincial associations such as COABC. It is available for free online for download . To purchase your hard copy for only $6.00 Purchase Here
Canada’s Organic Inputs Directory Launches New Website!
Have you started thinking about which inputs you will be using on your farm this year? The Organic Federation of Canada and Peppersoft Inc. have just released the newly upgraded version of Organicinputs.ca. Organicinputs.ca is the nationwide, searchable directory that will help you find the products you need. In this comprehensive list, all of the products are either approved for use or have been found compliant with the Canadian organic standard. Search by keyword, brand name, ingredient or a problem to which you need a solution. Type in your postal code to find products located nearest you. “This is the most complete list that’s on the market for Canadian growers. It’s easy to search and find what you need. I would certainly recommend it to other farmers.”- Simon Jacques, Organic Bean Farmer. Check out Organicinputs.ca today!
The Young Agrarians, a British Columbia-based initiative focused on “growing farmers and food lovers in Canada” has recently launched an online farmer resource map.
Located at maps.youngagrarians.org, the resource map, or UMAP, acts as an online hub to connect and engage young farmers by highlighting a diverse array of farms, organizations and resources across British Columbia. It pulls together 13 different search categories of information into one mapping platform with a focus on certified or uncertified organics and farmers in start-up.
The UMAP is for people of all ages to add their farms, seed suppliers, favourite publications and more. The map features event and farm listings from the growing Young Agrarians community – as well as markets, organizations, blogs, infrastructure, business and government resources. Community members are invited to navigate the map by browsing through categories such as “Market”, “Seed” or “Land”, or to search British Columbia via bioregion or keyword. Young Agrarians invites anyone in the sector to submit a listing to the UMAP and share resources that are useful to you. Click on the UMAP button and fill out the form through a simple, two-minute process at youngagrarians.org/umap.
Organic sector invited to submit requests for modifications to the Canadian Organic Standards (COS)
The Review of the COS is underway and it is exhaustive: all sections of the organic standards have to be revised. The review exercise will take 2 years, and the objective is to publish the fully revised standard in 2015.
After having held a first meeting to address issues already listed on the permanent work list, the members of the Technical Committee and the Conveners of the Working groups responsible for the standard’s review are ready to hear the sector’s concerns about the Canadian standard. To do so, please fill out and submit the CGSB form to describe the modification that you are proposing and provide adequate background information. Without this basic information, your request cannot be considered by the WGs or the Technical Committee.
Click here for the Revision Proposal Forms for 32.310 (General Principles and Management Standards) and 32.311 PSL (Permitted Substances Lists).
Organic Week Proclamation
The Government of British Columbia has issued a proclamation that Sept. 21-28, 2013, shall be known as “Organic Week”.
Minister of Agriculture Pat Pimm made the announcement today as the organic industry has organized seven days filled with activities to celebrate Organic Week throughout B.C.
Boundary-Similkameen MLA Linda Larson has presented the proclamation to Certified Organic Associations of BC representatives, including Cawston organic farmers Sara Harker and Annemarie Klippenstein. Sara and Troy Harker were named B.C.’s Outstanding Young Farmers in 2013, and Annemarie and Kevin Klippenstein were named Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers in 2011.
The proclamation acknowledges the contribution the organic sector makes to economic and environmental well-being of British Columbia and how the industry is growing to meet the increasing demand for B.C. organic products.
The B.C. government is continuing to work with the B.C. organic farming sector in raising the profile of BC Certified Organic foods and ensuring consumers know about the wide variety of organic food products available in British Columbia.
There is lots to celebrate for Organic Week in British Columbia. New research indicates that Canada's organic market grew to $3.7 billion in 2012, with BC as the hotspot where two thirds of consumers purchase organic groceries weekly!
To support this growth and to help BC producers promote their certified organic products at farmers markets and retail, COABC created Organic Week materials that producers and retailers could download and customize. Colourful posters and infocards sporting Organic Week graphics and the new Think Before You Eat organic brand messaging are displayed in many venues across BC, generating lots of buzz!
Stay tuned for more marketing resources this fall and winter.
The Organic Week materials from COABC were in part funded by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of B.C. through the Agri-Food Futures Fund, Emerging Sectors Initiative, a provincial trust funded from money under the former federal-provincial safety nets framework.
BC Leads in the Organic Marketplace
Canada's organic market grew to $3.7 billion in 2012, with national sales of certified organic food and non-alcoholic beverages reaching $3 billion. The value of the Canadian organic food market has tripled since 2006, far outpacing the growth rate of other agri-food sectors. A diverse consumer base is driving the sector, with 58% of all Canadians buying organic products every week.
In BC, two-thirds of consumers—and over three-quarters of Vancouverites—are buying organic groceries weekly. BC generated 23% of the value of the national organic food and beverage market with strong sales across distribution channels.
Read the entire study conducted by the Canada Organic Trade Association here.
Small Scale Certification Research Project
The Certified Organic Associations of BC (COABC) undertook research to better understand the needs and issues of non-certified organic producers which deter them from participating in organic certification programs, and investigate possible solutions. The COABC Small-Scale Certification Research Project (SSCRP) process began with the development of a communications strategy and the creation of an SSCRP Advisory Committee. Once this was completed, the kick off for the project involved the identification of key stakeholders within and outside of COABC to approach for consultation. The intent was to engage with stakeholders throughout the project that have left certification, those that are not certified, but claiming to be organic, and urban agriculturalists.
Strategic Plan for the BC Certified Organic Sector – 2013-18
The Strategic Plan for the BC Certified Organic Sector - 2013-18 is now available here
PST Returns on April 1, 2013
Be ready for the return of the PST! The BC Ministry of Finance issued a PST Bulletin for Farmers to help them navigate the return of the PST.
This bulletin makes clear there are 2 ways to claim exemption to the PST.
1) Submit a completed Certificate of Exemption–Farmer form (FIN 458) to each of your suppliers or
2)Show your current BC Farmer Identity Card. Become a registered card holder here
COABC Apple Panel
During Organic week this year, COABC co-sponsored an Apple panel at the Organic Okanagan Festival held at Summerhill Pyramid Winery in Kelowna. The panel included orchardists, both organic and conventional, and a GMO expert. They dicussed the repercussions of the potential introduction of the GMO "Arctic Apple".
Thanks to event organizers we are able to share the panel in this 4 part video series.