Archived News and Activities of Canada Organic Trade Association - Organic Trade Association
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Archived News and Activities of Canada Organic Trade Association

Note: This page is an archive of past news briefs from the OTA in Canada webpage. We cannot guarantee that all information or web-links are up-to-date.

August 2012
COTA Announces Board Election Results
The results for COTA's Board Elections are officially in. The newly elected Board members are Lisa Mumm from Mumm's Sprouting Seeds, Mike Fata from Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods and Oils, and Ryan Benn from alive Magazine.

Low Level Presence
August saw the confirmation that Canada is set to unveil its proposal to permit traces, or low level presence, of unapproved genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in imported foods. The government proposes to allow the presence of GMOs in food and feed products up to a maximum level of 0.1 percent of any batch or lot tested. COTA's Matthew Holmes attended the consultation meetings in Ottawa and the draft plan will be submitted to the World Trade Organization in September.

Canada-Mexico Partnership
COTA representatives and members were in Ottawa last week to participate in the Canada-Mexico Partnership meetings. The partnership meets once a year and is coordinated by senior public servants to bring together representatives from the public and private sector in a variety of sub-groups. COTA's Matthew Holmes presented at the Organic Sub-Group along with representatives of CFIA's Canadian Organic Office and the Mexican Government. Visit the partnership website for more information.

July 2012
Science Cluster II
All organic sector stakeholders are welcome to participate in the Organic Science Cluster II set to launch April 2013. Industry partners are invited to identify priority research projects and provide monetary contributions that will be tripled with government funding to support up to five years of research. Universities, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and private sector scientists will work to provide credible science to address these priorities. To find out more, visit the OSC II website.

COTA in Ottawa
COTA's Matthew Holmes was in Ottawa for a meeting with Canadian organic and seed leaders as part of USC Canada's bauta initiative, which seeks to enhance Canada's national seed heritage. The meeting's aim was to assess the market's potential, identify barriers to its development and provide recommendations for the development of the organic seed sector in Canada. For more information visit the USC Canada's website.

June 2012

OCFP warns of pesticide dangers
The Ontario College of Family Physicians (OCFP) has just released its "2012 Systematic Review of Pesticide Health Effects". The review shows associations between pesticide exposure and a variety of neurological and respiratory diseases, as well as reproductive problems. The review also suggests family physicians counsel patients in settings such as pre-conception and prenatal visits on ways to prevent or reduce pesticide exposure and the handling of indoor and home garden pesticides. Visit the OCFP website for the full study.

2011 Census of Agriculture
Every five years, Statistics Canada releases the Census of Agriculture. Going as far back as 1871, the census focuses on collecting data from any persons responsible for operating a farm or an agricultural operation. Initial findings from the 2011 Census of Agriculture are available on the Statistics Canada website. Of note, total farms in Canada have declined by 17% since 2001, while certified organic operations have increased by 66.5%.

Richmond, BC bans GMOs
The City Council of Richmond in British Columbia has passed a resolution against the cultivation of genetically engineered (GE) plants and trees in the city. The vote, which was unanimous, made Richmond the eight community in BC to adopt such measures against GMOs. Among the wiitnesses speaking in favor of the ban was Nature's Path Organic Program Manager and COTA Board member Dag Falck. To see the press release click here.

Funding for Quebec Organic Centre
On June 5, the new Organic Agriculture Research Centre in Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville received funding of over $13 Million. This amount will assist in the creation of the "Platform for Innovation in Organic Agriculture", and the procurement of machinery and scientific equipment to help address the research and development needs of over 30 organizations involved in organic agriculture. Click here for the official press release.

Growing Forward 2
On June 1, the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food made public the report "Growing Forward 2". This report includes a summary of the study of the Standing Committee collected of the biotechnology industry. The study is available in english and in francais.

May 2012
Holmes testifies before finance committee
On May 30, COTA's Matthew Holmes testified before the Standing Committee on Finance on its study of Bill C-38, the "Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act", an omnibus bill with far-ranging impact. Holmes spoke on proposed changes to the Seeds Act and the powers granted to the President of CFIA, and voiced concerns about a possible "Low Level Presence" policy for genetically engineered seeds. Click here to access the official transcript.

CODEX meetings
COTA's Executive Director Matthew Holmes attended the Codex Alimentarius meetings in Ottawa. The Codex, developed by the Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), is dedicated to developing global food codes that govern processing practices. Held from May 15-18, the meetings brough comments on food labelling from food producers, processors and national food control agencies. Please visit the CODEX Alimentarius website for further information.

Organic discussion in Ottawa
Mike Berretta, CEO of Beretta Organic Farms, spoke before the House Standing on Agriculture and Agri-Food on May 16 about the red meat supply chain in Canada. Beretta provided testimony and answered questions about food safety, vertical integration, the oversight involved in organic meat processing, and the need for support in growing the supply chain in Canada. Visit the committee website to listen to the meeting. The committee will next investigate the supply chain as it relates to Canadian poultry.

Organic Aquaculture Standards
On May 10, the Canadian General Standards Board published the Canada Organic Aquaculture Standard (CAN/CGSB-32.312-2012) for the world's fastest-growing food production system. The new standard is not part of any regulation at this time. Accredited certifying bodies can certify to this standard, but, until it is referenced in government regulation, organic aquaculture products may not carry the Canada Organic logo. Similarly, the new national standard does not currently fall under the scope of Canada’s Organic Products Regulations or Canada’s trade equivalencies for organic products with the United States or European Union. The standard will be reviewed and amended within five years, and regulation and enforcement provisions will be sought. The bilingual version of standard may be purchased online.

COTA in Ottawa
COTA’s Executive Director Matthew Holmes attended the Organic Value Chain Roundtable (OVCRT) meetings. Held in Ottawa on May 7-8, the sessions focused on issues such as long-term standards funding and maintenance, as well as risk mitigation and the impacts of GMOs on the organic sector. For more information visit the OVCRT website.

April 2012
Organic discussions at the Senate
On April 26, Dr. Andy Hammermeister, Director of the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada, and Beth McMahon, Executive Director of the Canadian Organic Growers, provided testimony to the Senate Committee of Agriculture and Forestry. Hammermeister addressed the need for "innovation, agricultural knowledge, science and technology” in future developments of the organic sector, and McMahon referred to organic producers as “experts of vertical integration and supply chain management. To see the full meeting, visit the Senate website.

COTA responds to Maclean's Magazine
COTA's Executive Director Matthew Holmes wrote a response to the Maclean's Magazine article "What you'll be eating soon". Published on April 20, the piece was dedicated to glorifying the promise of biotechnology, nanotechnology and petri-dish foods grown in labs. Holmes writes: "Novel foods may be growing in companies' labs, but the glorious future they're trying to feed us may well fail to germinate". You can see the Maclean's Magazine article here.

COTA testifies before House Agriculture Committee
Matthew Holmes focused his April 2 testimony before the House Agriculture standing committee on the success of COTA members in their vertical integration within the supply chain. While describing the success of the sector, Holmes also drew particular attention to risk management regarding co-mingling, the loss of access to foreign markets as a result of contamination and concerns about "natural" product claims.

March 2012
Export Missions
COTA accompanied Canadian export-ready organic businesses on trade missions in the Southwestern U.S. in early March. Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, in collaboration with the Canadian Consulate in Los Angeles and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, hosted a Taste of Canada event in Phoenix, AZ. This was immediately followed by a similar program at Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, CA, hosted by the Consulate General of Canada in San Francisco. These events provided Canadian organic export-ready businesses with a wealth of information on the region's consumers, distributors and markets, meetings with retailers as well as bus tours to a number of retailers in the Phoenix and Los Angeles areas. COTA is pleased to work with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada on these opportunities to build Canadian organic brand presence in the United States, Mexico and beyond.

COTA in the Prairies
On March 16, COTA, the Manitoba Organic Alliance (MOA), Export Development Canada, and Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives hosted a workshop in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on opportunities for area producers. Katherine DiMatteo of Wolf, DiMatteo and Associates provided an overview on the U.S. market and new product trends. Other speakers included Mike Fata of Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods and Oils, and representatives of the workshop sponsors. A reception and the annual general meeting of MOA followed the workshop.

COTA at Natural Products Expo West
COTA partnered with the Consulate General of Canada to host an educational seminar and networking event for Canadian companies on March 8, at Natural Products Expo West. Presentations were held on market analysis, pricing structures and creating beneficial connections with distributors and retailers.

February 2012
Inspectors study organic aquaculture standards
COTA facilitated a meeting of organic inspectors with some members of the organic aquaculture standards committee. The session held on Feb. 27 during the International Organic Inspectors Association trainings in Chilliwack, BC, included an overview of international organic aquaculture standards as well as Canada's proposed standards, expected to be ratified in April.

Dr. Vandana Shiva in the Maritimes
Dr. Vandana Shiva gave a series of talks and presentations in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia Feb. 24-27. Topics covered gender and sustainability, food security and biodiversity. Dr. Vandana Shiva spoke in Wolfville, NS; Halifax, NS; and Sackville, NB. COTA's Matthew Holmes hosted Dr. Shiva's talk on Sunday Feb. 26.

January 2012
COTA in GuelphCOTA took part in the 31st Guelph Organic Conference. The event offered opportunities to discuss cooperatives, climate change, organic trade and how to market organic products, as well as many other areas of interest for Canadian organic farmers and businesses. The conference and trade show featured many COTA members, as an official sponsor of the event, COTA is proud to have worked with the organizers and looks forward to next year's conference.

December 2011
COTA's Executive Director Matthew Holmes defended the organic sector in the media after CBC published government data showing organic products had tested positive for trace residues of prohibited pesticides. In a series of interviews, including the CBC TV's headline show "The National", Holmes and others from the organic sector showed how chemical agriculture has contaminated much of our world, and the way to limit exposure to these chemicals is to choose organic. See COTA's statement here.

December 2011
Quebec has announced that as of Jan. 1, it will adopt Canada's national organic standards, further streamlining the organic sector in the province with new federal rules. See the french version here. Shortly after the announcement, COTA's Matthew Holmes spoke at the Filiere Biologique du Quebec's meeting of the Quebec organic sector, and highlighted international market conditions and opportunities under Canada's organic equivalency agreements and AgriMarketing program.

November 2011
COTA submitted two formal comments relating to government consultations. In the first, COTA advocated against any loosening of current government regulatory oversight or review on "low level presence" thresholds for unapproved GMOs shipped into Canada. The formal submission can be found here.
In the second, COTA wrote in favour of CFIA draft guidelines to restrict the use of "natural" claims on meat products, suggesting that such claims in Canada are currently unregulated, do not meet standards or consistent definitions, and are causing widespread consumer confusion. The formal submission can be found here

November 2011
COTA's Matthew Holmes attended the government consultations on a GMO "low level presence" policy, and took part in the semi-annual meeting of the Organic Value Chain Roundtable where he chairs the Regulatory Group. Currently, the Roundtable is discussing long-term funding of standards maintenance, a branding program for the organic sector, and the impacts of GMOs on organic agriculture and trade.

November 22, 2011
In partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), COTA hosted a workshop in Toronto. "Be prepared for the Global Organic Market - What you need to know" focused on value-added organic food exports, and was directed to producers seeking to increase their exports to key global markets in strategic countries in regions of Europe, the United States and Asia-Pacific. Speakers included experts from United States, Germany and Canada.

November 15-17, 2011
COTA is pleased to welcome two familiar faces to new roles in Canada's organic sector. On Nov. 15 at the Ottawa meeting of the Organic Value Chain Roundtable, an industry advisory body to the federal government, Gunta Vitins was acclaimed as the new industry co-chair. Vitins currently serves as COTA President and OTA VP Canada, and works as an independent consultant. On Nov. 17, the Canadian Organic Growers (COG) announced Beth McMahon is its new national Executive Director. McMahon has most recently served as Executive Director of ACORN (Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network) and has a background in non-profit management and fundraising. COG is a national charitable organization representing a diverse membership from organic producers to consumers. COTA has partnered with both organizations for years, and looks forward to continuing this good collaboration. Congratulations Gunta and Beth!

November 11-14, 2011
COTA's Matthew Holmes attended the Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network's 12th annual organic conference and trade show in Halifax Nov. 11-14. The event hosted over 40 workshops and the celebratory organic banquet featured a keynote address by Katherine DiMatteo of Wolf, DiMatteo + Associates.

October 27-29, 2011
The Canadian General Standards Board will hold the first meetings on the draft Organic Aquaculture Standards. On Aug. 30, COTA submitted comments on the draft to the Canadian General Standards Board. COTA’s Stephanie Wells will attend the Ottawa meetings this week to ensure our members’ views continue to be at the forefront in the development of new standards.

October 25, 2011
COTA’s Matthew Holmes testified before Parliamentarians on the House Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food. The Committee is discussing "Growing Forward 2," the multilateral policy vehicle by which the federal and provincial governments streamline their priorities and activities in agriculture for the next five years. Holmes called for support programs for new entrants to organic farming, long-term maintenance of the standards, and an ongoing commitment to scientific research into organic production and methods.

October 21, 2011
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced $195,000 through the AgriMarketing Program to help COTA brand Canada within the global organic sector, build brand awareness within established target markets, participate in international trade shows, contribute to capacity development and identification of new exporters, and capitalize on demand opportunities.

October 21, 2011: To conclude Organic Week, 35 members of the Canadian organic sector took part in COTA’s Parliament Day on Oct. 18. The morning started with presentations by prominent Canadian environmentalists, government relations experts and journalists. During the day, participants met directly with nine members of Parliament who sit on the House Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, as well as the team at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s Canada Organic Office, to introduce the Canadian organic sector and engage in constructive discussion on its future development. The group also attended a rousing “Question Period” within the public galleries of the House of Commons to watch the government in action defending its record. It then hosted a capacity-crowd of members of Parliament and Senators at a three-hour all-organic reception near the Senate Chambers. Photo highlights from the events are available here.

October 18, 2011
Organic Week culminated in Parliament Day Oct. 18, when organic farm and industry leaders gathered for a morning of speakers on advocacy and branding, with Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May giving the keynote address. The organic representatives then called on Members of Parliament and the Senate who sit on the House Committee on Agriculture to discuss major issues facing the organic sector. The day ended with the organic sector hosting MPs and Senators for an all-organic reception on Parliament Hill near the Senate chambers.

October 15-22, 2011
The second annual National Organic Week was celebrated across Canada Oct.15-22, with hundreds of event partners and participating retailers showcasing organic products and holding community events. This year's Organic Week also included integrated communications through various social media channels and a revamped website, featuring Organic Week events, related videos and the Globe and Mail Special Report on Organics.

October 14, 2011
GLobe and Mail published a special feature to help celebrate Organic Week. The "Go Organic" section included a call for a "100-year diet" by COTA Executive Director Mathew Holmes, a Q & A with Maria Rodale (author of the Organic Manifesto), and informative sections on the Canadian organic market and GMO issues as well as consumer information on how to choose organic on a budget. View the special Organic Week Globe and Mail here.

October 4th, 2011
COTA’s Executive Director Matthew Holmes attended the 17th IFOAM Organic World Congress in South Korea, where he delivered two talks with OTA's Senior Trade Advisor Bob Anderson. The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) hosted the Congress in conjunction with the World Organic Fair and a series of organic conferences. On October 4th, Holmes was elected for the IFOAM World Board.

September 2011
OTA’s membership has approved an affiliation agreement between OTA and COTA creating a new relationship and member recognition between the two organizations. Under the agreement, COTA will have its own member-elected Board and By-laws. Current trade members of OTA with operations in Canada are eligible for membership in COTA, with the same benefits and services they currently enjoy under OTA. With two dedicated Canadian seats elected by COTA to the OTA Board, OTA will continue to be the North American representative of the organic sector. This is the culmination of five years of efforts by staff on both sides of the border to empower and represent the Canadian membership through democratic systems.

September 26, 2011
COTA' Executive Director Matthew Holmes attended the 17th IFOAM Organic World Congress in the Republic of Korea Sept. 26 to October 5. COTA had a Canada Organic booth and Holmes spoke on the Canadian organic sector and, with OTA, on the successful Canada-U.S. Equivalency Arrangement. During the event, Holmes was elected to the World Board of IFOAM and is the only representative from North America on the 10 person board. To find out more, see the OTA press release here.

September 2011
As soon as an accredited certification body provides a list of suspensions and cancellations of organic certification, the information is posted on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website. PACS in British Columbia is the first to have provided a list. Certifiers must suspend a holder's certification if the holder has not complied with provisions of the Organic Products Regulations, the Canada Agricultural Products Act or the issued organic certification. To learn more about certification suspension and cancellation, visit the CFIA website.

August 2011
Following the first organic certification suspension by the Canada Organic Office, articles appeared in the Montreal Gazette, Ottawa Citizen, Vancouver Sun, and the Victoria Times-Columnist, quoting COTA on the federal system's effectiveness and the importance of rigorous enforcement of the Organic Products Regulations. To read the Ottawa Citizen article, click

August 25
COTA's Matthew Holmes spoke at Nutracon Asia at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Center in Hong Kong. The event, co-located with Natural Products Expo Asia, had over 11,000 visitors. Holmes was part of an international team of experts invited to examine the global market for organic foods. For more information, click

August 2011
The August issue of Policy Options, Canada's premier public policy magazine, included an article written by COTA's Executive Director Matthew Holmes. Titled "Genetics, market access and the growth of organic agriculture", the article touched on Canadian organic standards and the issues with GMO's. To download this article, visit the Policy Options website

July 27, 2011
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) arrounced that the organic certification for Jirah Milling and Sales has been suspended, effective July 25, 2011. Jirah Milling's certification was suspended for failing to comply with the Organic Products Regulations of 2009, and is no longer authorized to market organic products or use the Canada Organic logo. COTA supports the CFIA's efforts to enforce the integrity of the organic system in Canada, ensuring that the public and our trading partners continue to trust the organic claim.

July 2011
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency recently made public the letters exchanged between the CFIA and the European Commission regarding the organic equivalency agreement. The Canada-EU letters officially recognize that the organic regulations from the both countries are in equal accordance. Find the official letter
here. Cliquez ici pour obtenir la version française.

July 2011
COTA headquarters relocated to a handsome heritage building in
Sackville, New Brunswick. Built in 1841, the Joseph F. Allison House was home to one of the first speakers of the Senate of the Dominion of Canada. The building houses a number of non-profit organizations and will be the new home for both COTA and ACORN (the Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network). COTA's mailing and contact information will remain unchanged.

July 2011
COTA's Matthew Holmes was invited to the opening reception of the annual meeting of federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for agriculture. The
meeting, which took place in St. Andrew, New Brunswick, was co-chaired by New Brunswick's Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Michael Olscamp and the federal Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz.

June 30
June 30th marked the end of CFIA’s two-year “phase-in” Stream of Commerce period. As of July 1st, all food, livestock feed, seeds and agricultural crops labeled and sold as organic in Canada must be certified by a CFIA-accredited certification body or indicate that they comply with requirements of the U.S.-Canada Equivalency Agreement. All products must meet the labeling requirements of the country in which they are sold.

June 29, 2011
On June 29, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced the federal government’s intention to offer Western Canadian grain farmers the option of selling their products privately or through the Canadian Wheat Board. The government says this approach would give marketing freedom to producers and allow businesses to access more diverse marketing opportunities See details on the
AAFC website.

June 2011
Members of USDA’s National Organic Program were in Quebec to conduct the annual peer review under the U.S.-Canada Organic Equivalency Agreement. Officials met with the Canada Organic Office of CFIA, and visited the CARTV accreditation arm, the offices of Ecocert Canada, certified operators, and met with the Filière Biologique du Quebec, an advocacy group for the province's organic sector.

June 2011
Stonyfield Canada chose five exciting projects from 83 submissions for a total of $25,000 in grants under its Profit for the Planet program. The grant jurists were Chantale Després, Canadian National Railway's director of sustainability and fundraising chair for The Climate Project Canada; COTA’s Matthew Holmes; Dimitra Georgakis, consultant for Enzyme, a health-focused agency; and Iannick Melançon, Stonyfield’s brand manager. For more information click

June 2011
COTA submitted comment to the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) on the second draft of Organic Aquaculture Standards. Nine months ago, COTA's comment on the first draft called for more rigor around water quality and environment, pest management, permitted and prohibited substances, buffer zones, and stocking rates. Overall, the CGSB technical committee has improved these rules, but COTA has requested more measurables and highlighted concern regarding cultivated marine animals held in proximity to wild animals of the same species.

February 16-19, 2011: Exhibit space is now available for the Canada Organic Pavilion at BioFach Feb. 16-19, 2011. The Canada Pavilion features 13 exhibitor booths, a Canada Information booth and a meeting lounge. Exhibitors will benefit from a pre-show promotional mailing to European buyers, extensive market information, and access to European trade commissioners. With market development support from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), participants will have complimentary access to the Feb. 17 Canada Reception, a listing in the official Canada Organic BioFach Pavilion exhibitor brochure, a Canada Organic Pavilion marketing campaign prior to and during BioFach, and assistance with travel and shipping arrangements.

Jan. 17-21, 2011:
The Canada Organic Trade Association, in partnership with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, will lead an export trade mission to the Netherlands and Germany Jan. 17-21, 2011. Canada’s trade commissioners will introduce export-ready participants to local importers and industry contacts through facilitated trade meetings. Participants will also attend the BioVak organic expo in Zwolle. The trade mission aims to help Canadian companies develop their export strategy and broaden trade networks in Europe. Possible funding support is available; space is limited. Contact Matthew Holmes for further details or call 613-482-1717.

COTA is proud to launch a new consumer website for consumers interested in knowing
more about organic products in Canada and the new "Biologique Canada Organic" logo.
Visit Organic-Biologique

October 9-16 2010: Organic Week Canada’s first National Organic Week runs Oct. 9 (Thanksgiving) to Oct.16 (World Food Day). Events include a Parliamentary Reception and Hill visit in Ottawa, and festivities organized by regional partners across the country. COTA encourages you to take part by talking with your customers about the benefits of organic and about the week celebrating Canada’s growing organic sector. Please show your support by inviting them to visit the event website.

September 7, 2010:COTA’s Matthew Holmes was in Truro, Nova Scotia, to attend the official announcement by the Honorable Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture Canada, of $6.5 million in research funding for organic agriculture, to be matched with another $2.2 million in industry funds. The Organic Science Cluster is composed of ten sub-projects in research areas such as energy efficient organic greenhouse production and low-till production without herbicides. The Organic Science Cluster, a joint initiative led by the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada and the Organic Federation of Canada, will run until March 2013. Read the official funding announcement or visit the Organic Science Cluster website for more details.

August 30, 2012
COTA submitted comment on Canada’s draft Organic Aquaculture Standards to the Canadian General Standards Board. COTA’s letter and technical submission indicate support for the development of rigorous organic standards for aquaculture. More discussion and details on water quality and environment, pest management, permitted and prohibited substances, buffer zones, and stocking rates are still needed before the draft standards can be accepted. COTA will have a voting seat on the aquaculture technical committee and will represent member comments at this table. If you have immediate questions, contact Stephanie Wells.

August 24, 2010: The working draft for Canada’s Organic Aquaculture Standards is open for public comment until Aug. 29. The draft standards, comment form and instructions are available here. COTA has a voting seat on the aquaculture technical committee and will represent member comments at this table. If you have immediate questions, contact Stephanie Wells.

August 10, 2010: The Quebec government has announced it will establish a subsidy program to help farmers convert to organic agriculture. The overall goal is to have 10,000 additional hectares in Quebec transitioned to organic production by 2013. Currently, Quebec has 45,000 hectares under organic cultivation. This would bring the total percentage of organically managed agricultural land to 20 percent. Read the whole article here.

July 27, 2010: Are you a Canadian small or medium-sized enterprise (under 250 employees) that wants to pursue your own international marketing opportunity? Up to $50,000 in cost-matching dollars are available for special projects that target non-U.S. export markets. Projects may include advertising, in-store promotions/demonstrations, trade seminars and trade shows, and outgoing or exploratory missions. COTA is the organic sector partner with Agriculture Canada for this funding, and all company applications must be made through COTA. E-mail Matthew Holmes no later than Aug. 16 to indicate your interest.

July 12, 2010: The OTA Board of Directors recently formally approved adoption of the “Canada Organic Trade Association” (COTA) name. The Board also approved a change to how Canadian member dues and contributions are collected. Effective immediately, Canadian members can pay their dues in Canadian dollars at par directly to the COTA office. Members on both sides of the border will continue to receive information and services based on their market interest and needs in the United States, Canada, and through our various export programs. Contact Matthew Holmes  for more information.

July 12, 2010: Survey looks for your company’s export profile. Your participation in a national survey is needed to make the most of the Canada Organic Trade Association’s (COTA’s) Canadian export initiative, which has received a second year of funding from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The survey findings will shape the development and delivery of a long-term international strategy for Canadian organic exports by determining domestic capacity, infrastructure, and mentorship needs. If you are a Canadian company currently exporting or considering export trade in organic products, we urge you to complete the survey online. COTA’s export initiative includes planning and funding opportunities for trade shows and buyer missions.

June 28, 2010: Steps continue toward possible Canada-EU equivalency agreement. Canadian officials from the Canada Organic Office, CFIA, were in the EU last week to conduct a full review of the European organic regulatory system. Canadian officials conducted on-site visits of regulators, accreditors, certifying bodies and operators in the UK and Belgium. This audit follows a similar review by officials with the European Commission in Canada earlier this spring. The exchange is one of the finals steps following months of negotiations on an equivalency agreement between the EU and Canada.

June 15, 2010: The OTA-Canada Advisory Committee welcomes Elisabeth Bélanger of La Maison Orphée to fill the committee’s appointed seat. This completes the roster for the new committee, whose tenure began on June 14. The recently elected members are Cynthia Beretta of Beretta Organic Farms (re-elected), Steve Cavell of Organic Meadow, and Kelly Monaghan of Ash Street Organics (re-elected). OTA in Canada thanks outgoing board member Hélène Bouvier of Organic Ranchers for her many years of service.

June 1, 2010: The OTA in Canada elections results are in. With 32 percent of Canadian trade members voting, Cynthia Beretta (owner of Beretta Organic Farms) and Kelly Monaghan (President of Ash Street Organics) have been re-elected to the OTA-Canada Advisory Committee. Also elected was Steve Cavell (CEO of Organic Meadow). The members of the advisory committee will appoint a fourth seat, and that person will join the incoming committee when its tenure begins on June 14. Congratulations to the new committee, and many thanks to all members who were candidates in the 2010 election.

May 17, 2010: Canada Organic Trade Association is partnering with other organic groups in Canada to launch National Organic Week from Oct. 9 (Thanksgiving) to Oct.16 (World Food Day). To complement national and local activities, COTA will again organize the Special Report on Organic in the national Globe and Mail, as well as a Parliamentary reception in Ottawa. Members interested in advertising or sponsorship opportunities may contact Matthew Holmes
You may download last year's report here.

May 17, 2010: COTA's Matthew Holmes has been made an ambassador of the Global Organic Market Access (GOMA) project of IFOAM, UNCTAD and FAO. The GOMA project seeks to simplify the process for trade flow of organic products among various regulatory and/or private organic guarantee systems through facilitation, outreach, analysis, technical assistance and pilot projects. Explore their website for more information on the GOMA Project.

May 3, 2010: Matthew Holmes has been selected chair of the Regulatory Working Group of the Organic Value Chain Roundtable, a sectoral advisory body to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The Regulatory Working Group has recently prioritized a number of critical regulatory gaps or barriers affecting Canada’s organic sector. Holmes succeeds outgoing chair and OTA Board member Tom Cowell.

April 20, 2010: OTA members in Canada joined many other groups across the country in a writing campaign to urge MPs to support Bill C-474, a private members’ bill to require that “an analysis of potential harm to export markets be conducted before the sale of any new genetically engineered seed is permitted.” On April 14, the bill passed with a majority of the opposition voting ‘yea’ (153) to government ‘nay’ votes (134), with eight votes paired. The Seeds Regulations Act will now be referred to the House Standing Committee on Agriculture.

April 20, 2010: The Canada Organic Trade Association has launched a Canadian export survey to inform the next five-years of priority setting and activities, including trade shows and buyer missions. The survey is intended for Canadians currently exporting or considering export activities, and those engaged in the trade of organic products. Canada Organic Trade Association's Canadian export project is supported in part by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's AgriMarketing Program. The survey is available online in French and in English.

April 6, 2010: Organic has made the top ten list of menu trends in the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association’s first-ever Canadian Chef Survey. Organic was listed as the third top menu trend, right after locally sourced and sustainable. In 2006, restaurants and food service had organic sales of 10 million dollars and made up 1 percent of total organic food sales in Canada.

March 22, 2010: The Standards Interpretation Committee has issued its first set of official answers to questions received on the Canadian organic standards. The interpretations are subject to a 60-day comment period, after which they will be adopted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Copies of the interpretations are posted on the COTA standards page, as are instructions for submitting formal questions in the future.

March 4, 2010: Organic has made the top ten list of menu trends in the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association's first-ever Canadian Chef Survey. Organic food was listed as the third highest menu trend, right after locally sourced and sustainable. In 2006, restaurants and food service had organic sales of 10 million dollars and made up 1 percent of total organic food sales in Canada.

February 22, 2010: Prior to BioFach last week, OTA in Canada conducted a brief market tour of the Netherlands, with the assistance of the Canadian trade commissioner stationed at The Hague and the AgriMarketing Program of Agriculture Canada. Participating Canadian members of OTA met with distributors, logistics providers, brokers and importers. Information gleaned from this trip will be used for the Canadian organic export strategy.

February 12, 2010: While Vancouver's Olympics shops are selling some organic cotton T-shirts, the big news is that Hain Celestial Canada was named the first-ever official supplier of natural and organic grocery products for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympics Winter Games. Many of Hain Celestial's organic brands are being served to athletes and spectators at official Olympic events and at Canada House during the Vancouver Olympics.

January 21, 2010: The Canadian General Standards Board's technical committee on organic agriculture held a three-day meeting in Cornwall, Ontario to review possible 2010 amendments to the Canadian organic standards. At the meeting, CFIA announced the standards would once again be provided free-of-charge, as an agreement in principle with CGSB has been struck. Canadian Organic Growers, the Organic Federation of Canada and OTA in Canada have been vocal on this critical issue, and OTA in Canada is very pleased to see that the standards will once more be accessible to all.

January 21, 2010: An article published yesterday by CBC News on a study which found that almost half of Canadians "believe it is more important a food be labeled natural than organic, even though organic foods are more heavily regulated." The study identified price pressures, consumer confusion and the need for increased consumer education as critical factors in this result. The Canada Organic Trade Association recently launched a consumer website and has asked the government for a public awareness campaign on the new Canadian organic system.

January 2010: The Guelph Organic Conference is coming up at the end of the month. Be sure to join Stonyfield Farm and OTA in Canada for a special screening of Food Inc. with special guest Gary Hirshberg, CEO of Stonyfield Farm on Thursday January 28.

January 2010: Happy New Year! The Organic Products Regulations are now six-months old. To see the OPR to its first birthday, OTA in Canada is hiring a Policy and Outreach Coordinator (download the job description) offered through the Youth-Eco Internship Program.

December 2009:The Standards Interpretation Committee held its first meeting to discuss questions relating to the Canadian standards. Instructions will be posted by the CFIA on its organic pages. Questions on the meaning or practice of the standards should be directed to Elizabeth Corrigan at CFIA.

November 2009: The Globe and Mail has published a special report on organic in Canada (PDF version of Nov. 12 report).

October 2009: OTA in Canada applauds the Ontario Minister of Agriculture intervening on a Turkey Farmers of Ontario ruling that impinges on organic farmers' rights to pasture. Read the update in the Toronto Star. For background, visit our partners at the Organic Council of Ontario.

October 5-6, 2009: OTA in Canada held a Training Session for Organic Processors in Toronto on October 5. The updated course was organized in response to high demand from those who missed our earlier workshops on how to prepare for Canada's new regulation this Spring. The session was held in concert with the Ethnic Specialty Food Expo, including the All Things Organic™ pavilion.

Fall 2009: OTA in Canada staff have been on the road presenting at major conferences in Canada, the U.S., and to Canada's international Trade Commissioners.

July 1, 2009: Check out our Equivalency page for all you need to know about the Equivalency Determination agreement between the United States and Canada.

June 30, 2009: Today's the day! Canada's Organic Products Regulations and new "Canada Organic" logo (see below) come into effect after years of sector consultation and preparation. OTA in Canada would like to say Thank You to the Government of Canada for hearing our calls for effective regulation of the organic sector in Canada.

June 24, 2009: The final version of the Organic Products Regulations were published in the Canada Gazette (Part II) and a new "Biologique Canada Organic" logo was unveiled.

June 2009: OTA in Canada and IOIA will offer one-day and two-day workshops on the new Canadian standards and regulations during All Things Organic™ on June 15-16, 2009. More information and registration can be found here.

April 2009: Reminder to members: Comments on Canada's Organic Products Regulations must be sent to Michel Saumur, Canada Organic Office c/oOPR.RPB@inspection.gc.ca by Wednesday, April 29. Download the OPR from our Canadian standards and regulations page, here.

March 2009: Everyone's talking equivalency! Read the OTA press release on recent progress toward an agreement. See the March/April issue of Organic Processing Magazine for an overview of Canada's regulation and standards, and a call for a Canada-US equivalency agreement. Meanwhile, The Packer newspaper interviewed OTA's Matthew Holmes on this critical issue for the organic business community in their March 23rd issue.

March 2009: OTA in Canada's processor workshops were a great success, and we are looking into the possibility of offering more sessions later this spring. These workshops were held in partnership with COG and IOIA and the support of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

February 2009: The amended Organic Products Regulations (OPR) have been published in Canada Gazette (Part I). Read OTA's press release here. Download the OPR from our Canadian standards and regulations page, here.

January 2009: OTA in Canada has published a list of the approved certifiers and accreditors under the Canada Organic Regime.

December 2008: OTA in Canada conducted two surveys on behalf of the Organic Value Chain Roundtable to poll the Canadian organic sector on the preferred organic logo. Option "5", a circle featuring a red maple leaf and the wording "Canada Organic Regime", was chosed in a run-off vote.

November 2008: The Canada Organic Office has released a draft Stream of Commerce policy for comment. Review the document on our Canadian organic standards and regulations page.

November 2008: OTA in Canada's Matthew Holmes has been made industry liaison to the Canada Organic Office in revising Canada's "Organic / Biologique" logo. Stay tuned for more information.

October 2008:The Ethnic and Specialty Food Expo, including the All Things Organic™ pavilion held in Toronto was a great success, with an increase in exhibtors, attendees, media coverage, and an excellent conference and workshop program. Visit the Expo's website for information on the 2009 show.

September 2008: The Organic Trade Association in Canada announces that an official amendmentto the Organic Products Regulation has been published in the Canada Gazette (II), delaying implementation of the new regulations and standards until June 30, 2009.

August 2008: The Organic Trade Association in Canada has made available to all OTA members the positive ballot results for all amendments to the Canadian organic standards (ballots 1 through 3). These documents are provided exclusively to members of OTA in order to assess likely changes to the Canadian organic standards in time for the implementation of Canada's Organic Products Regulations. Download the amendments (requires member ID and password).

August 2008: OTA in Canada published a guest editorial in the Calgary Herald responding to misinformation and criticism of the organic sector. Read the response.

July 2008: OTA in Canada hosted a reception for our members in British Columbia on the evening of July 29. The event was held at the Armstrong Gallery, atop the Vancouver Lookout at Harbour Centre. The catered event was well-attended and all enjoyed a chance to kick back and reconnect with the local organic community in BC.

June 2008: The Organic Trade Association in Canada has made available to all OTA members the positive results of the first two ballots on amendments to the Canadian organic standards. These documents are provided exclusively to members of OTA in order to assess likely changes to the Canadian organic standards in time for the implementation of Canada's Organic Products Regulations. Download the amendments (requires member ID and password).

June 2008: OTA in Canada has released an unofficial list of Accreditation Bodies and Certifying Bodies currently operating in Canada who are expected to be approved to operate under Canada's Organic Products Regulations. See the list.

May 2008: The Organic Value Chain Roundtable has released a white paper on future directions for organic agriculture in Canada, Growing Forward with Organics. The document makes specific policy recommendations for current Federal-Provincial-Territorial negotiations on the next multi-year Agricultural Policy Framework Agreement. OTA in Canada has contributed heavily to this document and endorses its objectives. We encourage all members to contact their federal members of parliament, members of provincial parliaments, and Ministers of Agriculture to make them aware of the need for ongoing, targeted support for the organic sector in Canada. This is a significant opportunity for you to directly influence the future of the organic sector in Canada and time is of the essence – please act today. A copy of the report is available for download here: (GrowingForward (pdf)). You can search for the contact information for your member of parliament by following this link and entering your postal code.

April 2008: OTA in Canada is pleased to announce the results of the Canada Advisory Committee elections and to welcome our new committee members: Cynthia Berretta, Tom Cowell, and Gunta Vitins, and to welcome back Kelly Monaghan, who begins her second term. OTA thanks the committee, past and present, for their commitment to guide and assist OTA's activities in Canada. The Canada Advisory Committee is made up of eight Canadian trade members: Cynthia Beretta, Beretta Organic Farms; Nancy Ciancibello, Plen Organics; Tom Cowell, Growers International Organic Sales, Inc; Dag Falck, Nature's Path Foods Inc.; Ellen Karp, Anerca International Inc.; Kelly A. Monaghan, Ash Street Enterprises; Dwayne Smith, Grainworks Inc.; and Gunta Vitins, ProOrganics/SunOpta Inc.

February / March 2008 industry meetings: Stephanie Wells is attending and presenting at the Certified Organic Associations of British Columbia (COABC) conference and AGM, February 29-March 2, in Sidney, BC; and at the Going Organic Alberta conference and trade show, March 4-5, in Camrose, AB. Matthew Holmes is presenting at the Organic Value Chain Roundtable, March 5-6, and attending the Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network (ACORN) conference and trade show, March 6-8, both in Memramcook, NB.

February 21-24, 2008: Matthew Holmes attended BioFach with the support of the Government of Canada's Canadian Agriculture and Food International Program. Holmes was there to promote the Canadian organic sector, liaise with Canadian companies and gather ideas toward a coordinated export branding and marketing strategy for Canadian organic products.

February 8, 2008: At the annual Guelph Organic Conference industry meeting, Matthew Holmes reported on work by OTA in Canada to develop a Good Organic Retailing Guide for Canadian retailers. The manual will complement Canada's regulatory and standards requirements. Having a guide on retail best practices was identified as a high-priority sector need at both the Organic Value Chain Roundtable and the Committee on Organic Agriculture, which determines Canada's organic standards. OTA in Canada will be leading this Roundtable project with assistance from other members of the organic community, as well as the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors, the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers and the Canadian Health Food Association.

January 26-27, 2008: The 27th Guelph Organic Conference was held the last weekend of January, and OTA's annual Guelph reception was a huge success. To the backdrop of a live jazz band in a beautiful country-club setting, OTA members, industry associates and government officials took the opportunity to take a break from a busy conference. All enjoyed the fabulous spread of organic food and beverages donated by our members in the U.S. and Canada. OTA in Canada would like to thank our members for the support and for their incredible products which make this annual event worth braving Guelph in January for.

January 8, 2008: Quality Management Systems (QMS) Manual released. The QMS describes the administration and enforcement of the Canadian Organic Regime. See our Canadian regulations and standards page for more information and copies of the document.

December 14, 2007: One year deadline to Canada's regulation. Canada's Organic Products Regulations (OPR) are scheduled to be fully implemented on December 14, 2008. The regulations will make the Canadian organic standards and permitted substances list mandatory for all organic food and livestock feed products sold in Canada, regardless of organic status under other regulatory programs. These products will be able to opt in to displaying the "Biologique Canada Organic" seal. OTA staff have met with both US and Canadian governments to encourage a discussion on a possible equivalency agreement between the two programs. OTA is also supportive of discussions underway between Canada and the EU. See our Canadian regulations and standards page for more information.

December 3, 2007: OTA applauds the federal government's investment of nearly $1.3 million in the Canadian organic sector. Read the press release.

November 22, 2007: OTA in Canada was interviewed for the National Post's "Special Green Report." OTA's Matthew Holmes told the Post: "There is great, great potential for Canadian companies… the demand right now for organics globally is astronomical. We can't even meet the U.S. demand, never mind Europe or Japan." Read the article.

November 21, 2007: The Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) has concluded a successful three-day meeting of the technical committee on organic agriculture, the industry-led group that directs and decides on Canada's organic standards and permitted substances list. Thanks to the many OTA members active on the committee and various working groups and task groups. Visit our regulations and standards page for more information.

October 19, 2007: OTA opens Western Canada office. Stephanie Wells has arrived in British Columbia where she has established a new office. Stephanie will continue to work on regulatory matters, and to expand OTA's local member services in the Western Canada region. Members can now reach her at 250-335-3423 or swells@ota.com.

October 18, 2007: Matthew Holmes of OTA has been asked to sit as a voting member on the Organic Value Chain Roundtable (OVCRT). Convened by Agriculture Canada, the OVCRT is an industry representative body advising the government on sector-wide issues. Holmes presented at the Montreal meeting on the need for a crisis management and response plan for the organic sector in Canada. He was also made industry-lead on a study being conducted into regulatory, trade and marketing barriers for Canadian organic products.

October 2, 2007: The second annual All Things Organic™ pavilion at Toronto's Ethnic and Specialty Food Expo was a great success. Three times the size of last year, OTA's pavilion now takes up approximately one third of the show. Many Canadian and US members, as well as some newcomers, joined us to present their great product lines and services to high-quality buyers and media. Consider next year's All Things Organic™ pavilion.

September 18, 2007: Maclean's Magazine has printed OTA's joint response with the Canadian Organic Growers and the Organic Federation of Canada to their article on organic product integrity. Read the letter to the editor.

September 5, 2007: OTA has called on Health Canada and Industry Canada to recognize the growing consumer demand for non-food organic products and the need to protect and promote these important, growing sectors. Read the press release.

August 10, 2007: The results of the election for Canada's Advisory Committee are in: the newly elected members are Nancy Ciancibello of Plen Organics (second term), Ellen Karp of Anerca International Inc., and Dwayne Smith of Grainworks Inc. Congratulations to the successful candidates and thanks to all of those who participated in the election.

July 10, 2007: The OTA has learned that the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) is implementing a major policy change on organic wheat sales that will lower marketing costs for organic growers. A new program, the Organic Fixed Spread Contract (OFSC), is expected to lower fees to between $0.05 and $0.15 per bushel, compared to pricing in the previous system that could reach over $1.00 per bushel. CWB will also increase resources for organic marketing, with additional staff and development of a cash-buying program. See the OTA press release here.

June 29, 2007: Update on Canada's Organic Products Regulations and Quality Management System (QMS) Manual. The Canada Organic Office (COO) has announced that Canada's Organic Products Regulations will be amended sometime this fall, but no specific date has been set. At the end of summer or early fall, the COO has said it will consult with industry before publishing the amended regulations in Gazette I. That preliminary consultation will include OTA. After publication, there will be a 75-day period for public comment.

On a much more immediate note, the Organic Quality Management System (QMS) Manual has just been revised and sent out for public comment by July 16.

The OTA's Task Force on Canada's Regulations and QMS Manual is reviewing the document for comment and the OTA will be involved in industry-only consultations with the COO following this.

See our Canadian regulations and standards page for more information and copies of the document.

June 8, 2007: Stephanie Wells, liaison for OTA in Canada, has been appointed interim president of the Organic Federation of Canada (OFC), which interacts with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency on Canada's Organic Products Regulations. The Federation consists of one industry representative from each province and territory and a national trade seat, held by OTA in Canada. Each province and territory may send an ex-officio representative to OFC. Its mandate is to provide the Canada Organic Office with ongoing organic industry expertise on regulatory issues. Wells will hold the position until the OFC annual meeting in November.

March 29, 2007: The Organic Trade Association has selected Matthew Holmes as managing director for OTA in Canada. Holmes will begin this new position in April.
"After a coast-to-coast search, OTA was pleased to find such an enthusiastic candidate with knowledge of organic issues and the leadership skills necessary for OTA in Canada at this time," said Caren Wilcox, executive director of the Organic Trade Association. "Hiring Matthew brings to fruition the vision OTA's Board and members had for additional attention for OTA's Canadian members." Read Press Release

January 3, 2007: Canada's New Organic Regulations Expected to Boost Consumer Confidence. The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is pleased by the Canadian government's December 22 publication of the federal regulation for organic food and livestock feeds. "Consumers will now be assured that when they purchase food that is labeled 'Canada Organic' it means that it was produced in compliance with a strict set of national standards for certification," said Stephanie Wells, OTA's Canada Liaison. "The regulation will help ease the way for organic trade between provinces and with other countries." (Read the regulations on the Gazette website here.)
Link here to press release

Return to Canada Organic Trade Association.
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