UPA wel­comes or­ganic farm­ing rules re­vi­sion; ques­tions cost al­lo­ca­tion

Sherbrooke Record - - LOCAL NEWS - Record Staff

The Union des pro­duc­teurs agri­coles (UPA) has wel­comed the fed­eral gov­ern­ment's fi­nan­cial con­tri­bu­tion to the re­vi­sion of the Cana­dian Or­ganic Stan­dards and Reg­u­la­tions, but not the costs in­her­ent in the process.

"The amounts granted to the Cana­dian Gen­eral Stan­dards Board (CGSB) will al­low it to study the in­dus­try's rec­om­men­da­tions,” says UPA Pres­i­dent Mar­cel Groleau. “Cana­dian farm­ers and food pro­ces­sors, how­ever, are left to their own de­vices for ev­ery­thing that comes be­fore this ex­er­cise, even if this step is im­posed on them.”

The Cana­dian Or­ganic Stan­dards and Reg­u­la­tions set out the re­quire­ments that Cana­dian pro­duc­ers and pro­ces­sors must meet, cer­ti­fies prod­ucts,, guar­an­tees con­sumers here and abroad that claims are true, and al­lows our com­pa­nies to ac­cess in­ter­na­tional mar­kets. How­ever, gov­ern­ment re­quire­ments call for a manda­tory re­view of the stan­dards ev­ery five years fail­ing which it will lapse. The cur­rent stan­dards are due to ex­pire in 2020. This re­vi­sion is done in two stages.

The first step con­cerns ex­ten­sive manda­tory con­sul­ta­tion, co­or­di­nated by the Or­ganic Fed­er­a­tion of Canada, to deal with busi­ness and pub­lic con­c­drns. Once com­piled, they must be an­a­lyzed by work­ing groups who will then make for­mal rec­om­men­da­tions. This first part of the process is a re­quire­ment of the Stan­dards Coun­cil of Canada, but it is not sup­ported by CGSB or Agri­cul­ture and Agri-food Canada

The sec­ond phase con­sists of for­mal study of the rec­om­men­da­tions by the CGSB and the rec­om­mended up­date of the stan­dards

“By ask­ing the in­dus­try to bear the costs of the con­sul­ta­tion, the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment is jeop­ar­diz­ing the vi­a­bil­ity of the Cana­dian or­ganic sec­tor, which is largely made up of very young com­pa­nies,” the UPA says, It ar­gues that it is up to the state to en­sure the in­tegrity of stan­dards and to pro­tect con­sumers.

"The Cana­dian gov­ern­ment is jeop­ar­diz­ing the very ex­is­tence of the (Cana­dian Or­ganic Stan­dards and Reg­u­la­tions) and the in­tegrity, le­git­i­macy and cred­i­bil­ity of or­ganic prod­ucts in Canada,” Groleau says. “It there­fore has to take re­spon­si­bil­ity and en­sure sus­tain­able fund­ing for each stage of the re­vi­sion, now and in the fu­ture, as is the case in the United States and Europe."

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