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News Release

Organic Trade Association sees promise
in Minister of Agriculture's support
for “going organic”

(Sackville, NB, March 11, 2008) - The Organic Trade Association in Canada (OTA) is encouraged by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz's suggestion on Monday that new federal programs will support farmers interesting in “going organic”.

As the Canadian organic market booms with annual growth above 20%, the need for more farmers to transition into organic production methods is a real concern.

OTA in Canada is calling on the federal government to go one step further and identify organic farming as part of its environmental “green plan”.

“It's time to take a new look at organic farming in terms of what it can do for farmers, the environment and the Canadian economy,” said Matthew Holmes, managing director of OTA in Canada. “Organic products now make up a significant part of the overall food sector, and organic farming offers a rare success story for Canadian agriculture.” But more is needed, says Holmes: the Canadian government should also consider organic farming an environmental priority as it introduces new measure this week to address climate change.

“The federal government has a real opportunity here to recognize the increased carbon sequestering, reduced chemical inputs, and lower carbon outputs of organic farming methods,” Holmes said, “particularly now that it is negotiating a new agricultural framework with the provinces and developing its green plan.” Recent studies out of Canada, the U.S. and E.U. have found organic farming, when compared to other production practices, can be more energy efficient, absorb more carbon into the soil from the atmosphere, increase biodiversity, and reduce the “nutrient loading” of excess nitrogen and other harmful residues in soil and water.

On Thursday, a group of the country's 11 largest environmental and conservation organizations, including the David Suzuki Foundation and the Sierra Club Canada, also released a report on climate change which identified support for organic farming as an environmental priority.

One barrier to continued growth of the organic sector has been a lack of coordinated support for transitioning into organic farming. Last year, OTA launched HowToGoOrganic™.com, to help North American farmers and processors find information on transitioning to organic production.

OTA is the membership-based business association for the organic industry in North America, with offices in the U.S. and Canada. 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.

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For more information, contact:
Matthew Holmes, managing director
Organic Trade Association in Canada
613.482.1717; mholmes@ota.com

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