Organic growers to study transitioning costs

Canadian taxpayers will put up close to half a million dollars for a study that looks at the costs and risks of transitioning a farm from conventional to organic production.

Quebec MP William Amos announced a federal investment of $462,000 in support of the study during a Sept. 20 news conference held in Old Chelsea, Que.

The announcement was made during National Organics Week, which ran from Sept. 16 to 24.

“Canadian farmers face risk every day, and transitioning from a conventional farm to an organic farm brings extra challenges,” said Amos.

“This investment will help farmers be better informed about the risks involved in making the move.”

Retail sales of certified organic products in Canada are estimated at $4.7 billion, and exports of organic products from Canada are valued at more than $500 million annually, according to Agriculture Canada.

Rochelle Eisen, an organic farmer in British Columbia, said demand for organic products is growing in Canada, but organic production is not expanding at the same pace.

Eisen also serves as president of Canadian Organic Growers, which will receive the federal grant and oversee the study.

“More than ever, Canadians are looking to purchase organic products grown and made in Canada. However, supply is not keeping pace at home or abroad.” Eisen said.

“There is a growing environmental and economic case for transitioning to organic agriculture in Canada and by enhancing our knowledge on this subject, we can develop effective tools, programs and policies that can better support a farmer’s journey to sustainable organic production.”

According to last year’s Census of Agriculture, the number of organic farming operations in Canada grew to 4,289 in 2016 from 4,120 in 2011, an increase of four percent, while the proportion of grain farms involved in organic production dropped to 2.8 percent in 2016 from three percent in 2011.

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