Based on our shared values around health, ecology, fairness and care, the organic sector is no longer a niche market. It is now among the fastest growing agricultural sectors in Canada with Canada being the fifth largest consuming nation of organic in the world.
This growth requires a concerted effort to ensure that the sector not only remains true to its roots but can reach its full potential and be more readily available and accessible to all.
The Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA) promotes and protects the organic sector and encourages the universal adoption of organic. Engaging government on the needs of the sector through elected officials and policymakers is an important activity that has helped us meet these goals. These conversations happen throughout the year when different issues come up.
In addition, COTA annually organizes the Organic Summit in conjunction with a parliamentary reception and lobby day. It is an opportunity to look at where we are, what still needs to be done and seek champions within government who can help promote the organic sector and our values.
Beginning with Education
This year’s Organic Summit focussed on the theme of “Regenerating Organic from the Roots Up!”. It returned in a hybrid format, with in-person and on-line participants. The well-respected speakers presented scientific and consumer data, practical experiences, and many thought-provoking questions. The summit energized us to prepare for the further discussions planned with parliamentarians on the next day.
The Organic Parliamentary Reception was among the most well-attended events on “the Hill” this year (or so we heard!). Over 60 Members of Parliament (MP), senators and staff joined the more than 50 organic sector leaders for an evening of networking, organic food and drinks. The nonpartisan event was co-sponsored by four political parties. This was encouraging as recognition of the organic sector and its benefits to Canadians and our planet are not restricted to a single political ideology.
Meetings on the Hill
The following day, COTA members along with other organic associations, came together to meet with MPs and senators to share with them our priorities for the sector.
This annual event provided an opportunity for the sector to align our objectives, share our enthusiasm for organics and deliver our message directly to parliamentarians who could help advance the sector and help ensure its long-term growth. It was a chance to share our commitment and involvement in organic. It was an exhilarating experience where we could educate, learn, discuss, share our concerns, and influence.
Our Organic Priorities in a Nutshell
Consumer demand is rising. The sector is in a unique position to help deliver on Canada’s aggressive climate and sustainability targets while continuing the path of agricultural expansion and prosperity. Historically, government investment in the sector has been relatively low; however, this will need to increase to maximize the potential benefits of the sector. Now is our opportunity to increase investment in organics and align with government priorities to be net-zero carbon by 2050!
3 musts to grow the organic sector:
Federal contributions for a comprehensive Organic Action Plan (OAP) would provide the infrastructure and resources needed to support the growth of organic.
Permanent predictable funding to maintain, update and interpret the Canada Organic Standards. This will uphold the trust and credibility of the Canada Organic Brand both domestically and internationally.
Creation of a comprehensive registration of all products that have undergone gene-editing, that is mandatory, available to the public, and overseen by the government.