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News Release - Plans underway to grow B.C. organic sector

VICTORIA – The Ministry of Agriculture is consulting with the organic sector about developing a three pillar approach to strengthen the awareness and reputation of B.C.'s organic foods, locally, across Canada, and around the world.

The consultations involve regulating the use of the term "organic", developing transitional strategies that support farmers to become certified, creating business strategy and market development programs, and creating a brand to market B.C. organic foods.

The proposed change will require all products marketed as "organic" in B.C. to be certified under either a provincial or national certification program. Operators producing and selling their organic products strictly within B.C. will require provincial certification. B.C. companies with customers in other provinces or countries will require certification by a federally accredited certification body, just as they do today.

Full PDF News Release

2015 COABC Conference - February 27 - March 1

2015 COABC Conference - February 27 - March 1

Please join us this February for the 2015 COABC Conference in Chilliwack. This year’s theme is "Livestock".

We're thrilled to have Sara Dent, Young Agrarians (YA) Coordinator, as our Keynote Speaker. She will be speaking about the growth and successes cultivated by YA in the short time that it has been present in BC (such as connecting new farmers with each other, connecting new farmers with experienced farmers, and facilitating Land Linking Workshops around the province), as well as the ideas that are propelling YA forward.

Blackberry Wood has been confirmed as our post-Feast entertainment. They will be sure to put on a good show and get the movers & shakers out on the dance floor!

Conference Details Conference Sold Out

Making the Switch to Organic

With three new business guides for conventional producers, the OVCRT aims to convince more farmers and processors to get the "Organic Advantage."

Canada's organic sector needs to significantly increase its production capacity to keep up with the ever-growing consumer demand for organic products. To help spur growth in the sector, the Organic Value Chain Roundtable (OVCRT) has recently released three new guides targeted to conventional growers that provide a strong business case for going organic. Each commodity-specific guide provides beef, grain and vegetable producers with an overview of the economics, market opportunities, and government/industry resources available to help guide new entrants towards a successful transition.

Get Social with our #ICertifyBC campaign


What's the best thing about organic farming? We figure there are as many answers to that question as there are organic farmers! So tell us your story -- what do you love best about being a certified organic farmer? We're launching the #ICertifyBC campaign to share the many reasons that BC's organic farmers have for loving organic certification.

Now it's your turn! Let us know why you choose organic certification, and you could inspire new young farmers to get certified too. Just follow @coabccanada on twitter, and post your photo or story, tagged #icertifybc. We'll share your posts with our networks, and feature a selection in upcoming issues of the BC Organic Grower Magazine.

Promote Organic Week this September! (Sept 20 - 28)

There is lots to celebrate for Organic Week in British Columbia. 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 Think Before You Eat organic brand messaging are displayed in many venues across BC, generating lots of buzz!


View all available files here.

Upcoming Workshop: Organic Certification Made Easy

Organic Certification

Whether you’re new to farming or an experienced operator, you’ve probably got at least two things in common: limited time, and a limited budget. If that sounds like you, head down to UBC Farm on September 20 to find out about new time-saving tools developed by COABC as part of our Organic Certification Pilot Project funded by Vancity’s enviroFund.

At this free afternoon workshop, you’ll learn how the COABC is making the certification process faster and simpler, putting organic certification within reach of even the smallest-scale farmers.

Join us! Register at Eventbrite

Video Takes the Mystery Out of Organic Inspections

Most certified organic farmers would agree, the first visit from an organic inspector can be unnerving. What will they ask? What will they look at?

Thanks to a new video produced by the COABC with funding from Vancity, the inspection process just got a lot less stressful for new organic farmers. "What to Expect From an Inspection..." is a six-minute video following verification officer Dwight Brown as he tours Stepney Hills Farms in Armstrong BC, explaining exactly what an organic inspector looks for, and what farmers can do to prepare for their inspection.

Whether you're a new certified organic entrant, considering becoming certified, or simply want to learn more about the inspection process for certified organic farms, check it out. You'll learn how the inspection puts together a complete picture of an organic farm, ensuring that BC's certified organic farms are healthy, sustainable and productive.

Stay tuned for further videos exploring the organic certification process.

Crowdfunding and the Organic Sector

The Organic Value Chain Roundtable (OVCRT) has released its report about the potential for crowdfunding in the organic sector. Crowdfunding is the latest tool for raising funds online. It is being successfully used to generate substantial funds for a wide variety of projects. Read the "Organic Sector Crowdfunding Report 2014" and discover the possibilities for your next project.

Organic Producers Not in Support of Bill 24

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.

COABC - Logo     organic alberta logo   
  SOD Logo     MOA Logo

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!

Organic Inputs
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!

Young Agrarians

Young Agrarians

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).

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

COABC_SSCRP_Report-15Apr13The 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.

Read the findings in the project report 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