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“The Canadian organic sector – including farmers, processors, certifiers, retailers and consumers – has been working diligently over the past year and a half to adjust its organic standards in time for this new regulation,” Holmes said. “The Government of Canada has been a partner with us the entire way, and we are very excited to see this new regulation.”
He added, “When these regulations come into effect this summer, consumers will have a clear idea of what organic is, and will know the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is monitoring and enforcing organic claims in the marketplace.”
Following a public comment period, the new regulations are set to come into effect on June 30, 2009. The OPR will ensure organic labeling on food products will be enforced and protected by the government, aligning Canada with its major trading partners and providing consumers with confidence in national standards in this rapidly expanding market. Canada’s organic food market is conservatively estimated at close to $2 billion (Canadian) in annual sales, and has seen more than 20% annual growth for many years.
The new regulations provide clarity on what products are covered by the current regulations, as well as a new organic logo. In December, OTA in Canada coordinated a survey of the organic sector to provide CFIA with input on the selection of this new logo.
The new regulations also provide detailed provisions on organic imports and exports, including a possible equivalency agreement with Canada’s major trading partners such as the United States and Europe.
“Given the current economic climate, I think the Canadian government is sending a strong message to the international community that we’re committed to fostering strong trade relationships,” noted Holmes. “The organic sector is growing so fast that we need to make sure that we don’t unintentionally introduce new barriers to trade, particularly now.”
The new regulations include language allowing possible equivalency agreements with other regulated organic standards, as well as more flexible rules for Canadian farmers and manufacturers wishing to sell to export markets. Canada and the United States are each other’s biggest customers for organic products, and trade with Europe is expanding rapidly.
OTA is the membership-based business association for the organic industry in North America, with affiliate offices in Canada and the United States. OTA’s mission is to promote and protect the growth of organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public, and the economy. OTA’s vision is that organic products are a significant part of everyday life, enhancing people’s lives and the global environment.