On July 17 2017, the Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA) released its first annual State of Organics: Federal-Provincial-Territorial Performance Report. This report analyzes and tracks existing organic regulations, policies and programming within the federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) governments. It evaluates four categories of support: regulation and enforcement, production supports, market supports and data collection.
• Gaps in organic regulations persist in some jurisdictions. The federal government introduced national organic regulations in 2009. Manitoba, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have adopted the national standards. Quebec has its own regulation, and the remainder of the provinces and territories do not have any regulation at all. Jurisdictions with these gaps create an unequal playing field for organic businesses, hinder sector growth and fail to protect consumers.
• Quebec is leading the way by having the longest-standing organic regulations, extensive organic production support, market support, and data collection.
• Ontario is falling short despite being the largest organic market in Canada. There are no provincial regulations, and provincial government support is limited and inconsistent.
• Organic data collection systems across the country are limited and inconsistently available. The lack of robust, consistent and timely data results in uninformed decision- making, posing a risk to the sector.
COTA has three recommendations for government:
• Ensure that all provinces and territories adopt organic regulations
• Invest in expanded and improved organic data collection systems, and
• Increase organic policies and programs across jurisdictions.
By showing the patchwork of support across FPT governments, it is anticipated this report will begin a dialogue among those who seek to learn from the practices of other jurisdictions. As such, it is a benchmark, demonstrating the current state of affairs. Annual reports will monitor progress and highlight successes year-to-year. It is available for download from the COTA website. //