UPA welcomes organic farming rules revision; questions cost allocation
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."