Canadian Organic Growers Releases
on the State of Organic Production in Canada
October 23, 2006
OTTAWA, Ontario, Canada (October 23, 2006): Canadian Organic Growers
(COG), Canada's largest national organic organization, today released
its analysis of the organic farming sector in Canada in 2005. These
data were collected with the help of Canada's organic certification
According to Anne Macey, the report's author, "This year's
results provide mixed signals about the health of the organic sector.
Certain parts of the country, such as British Columbia continue
to show strong growth, while growth in others appears to be slowing
The total number of certified organic farms in Canada was 3618;
down from the 3670 in 2004. The report cites two primary reasons
for the decline: a loss in the number of certified maple syrup producers
in Quebec and declines in the number of grain growers in Saskatchewan
and Alberta due to continuing drought and low commodity prices.
Not all regions reported decreases in the number of organic farms.
Organic farms in British Columbia increased by 9.5% over the previous
year. This province also reported the highest number of farms in
transition to organic agriculture (108 farms). Most of the BC growth
was in vegetable production, with an increase of 30% in the number
of farms and a 16% increase in acreage over the previous year. Organic
nut acreage, though still small, grew by 44%. BC now has the largest
percentage of farms using organic production methods (nearly 3%
of all farms).
Despite the latest dip in the number of organic farms across the
country, the number of acres under organic production continues
to climb, suggesting that organic farms are expanding. In 2005 there
were at least 530,919 hectares (1,311,929 acres) in organic production
in Canada with an additional 47,955 hectares (118,500 acres) of
land in transition. These figures represent a five percent increase
over 2004. "This is good news for the environment", said
Laura Telford, executive director of Canadian Organic Growers. "Every
acre under organic management decreases the chemical load in our
soils and water systems and provides better habitat for a wide variety
of soil and terrestrial species that make their homes on Canada's
Livestock production grew significantly relative to 2004 figures.
Beef production grew by 30%, sheep numbers were up 19%, layer chickens
were up 20% and broiler chicken production was up 56% over 2004.
Acreage devoted to growing organic grains and oilseeds was also
up relative to 2004. Hemp production jumped by 225% over 2004, spelt
was up 16%, oats were up 22% and barley production grew by 70%.
In some cases, such as wheat, increased acreage did not translate
into increased yields due to poor growing conditions in the Prairies.
For the second year in a row, the organic processing sector rose
though the increase was not as significant as the 48% increase observed
from 2003 to 2004. 2005 saw a more modest increase of 10%. The largest
processing gains occurred in Quebec (36%) and British Columbia (29%).
For the first time, COG's organic production report looked at Community
Supported Agriculture (CSA). Under this model, consumer 'partners'
pre-purchase shares in a market garden operation and in return receive
a weekly fresh food box. Our research revealed that there are at
least 85 certified organic CSAs in Canada. Only a few CBs provided
information so these numbers are considered minimums.
The federal government has just published a draft Organic Production
regulation. Telford said "We think the new regulation
and its 'Canada Organic' label will make it easier for consumers
to find and purchase
Canadian organic products. Based on the US experience, we think
this will translate into increased demand for made in Canada products,
which in turn will help to pull new farmers into organics."
Canadian Organic Growers has tracked the growth in the number of
certified organic farms and processors since 1992. The full report
is available at: www.cog.ca
For more information contact:
Salt Spring Island, BC
Ph. (250) 537-5511
Canadian Organic Growers
Ph. 613 216-0741
Cell 613 324-2850
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