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New organic regs welcomed

Province agrees to help industry eliminate bogus claimants.

By Grant Ullyot M

ary Forstbauer is pleased to see the provincial government moving to

clamp down on the ‘bogus’ organic producer.

“It’s been a long time coming,” says Forstbauer, a Chilliwack organic producer and co-president of the Certified Organic Associations of B.C. (COABC). She’s a longtime champion of efforts to set standards for organic

production that protect the

producer as well as the consumer Forstbauer can easily cite examples in which producers

producer or processor is federally

accredited under the national regulations, they are not allowed

to say ‘certified’. If they are provincially accredited then they say ‘certified’.

Farmers who claim to be

‘uncertified organic’ are a real source of irritation to vendors who have gone to the trouble and the expense of certifying their farm or crop. “Some producers think that because they allowed their animals to go out of doors that they qualified as having been raised organically. That’s a bogus claim,” says Forstbauer. People often wonder why it costs more for organically produced food. “The answer is simple,” Forstbauer explains. “It costs more for us to go through the lengthy certification process, extensive paperwork and on- site inspections that allow us to claim

Mary Forstbauer

or retailers have claimed their products to be organic when they are not.

The move to stop bogus claims is being made to provide a guarantee for consumers that what they are buying was produced in accordance with accepted organic standards. When the Canadian organic standard came into effect in 2009, producers were asked to refer to their certified products as simply ‘organic’. This has led to confusion among consumers.

The new B.C. regulations will restrict use of the word ‘organic,’ which in future will describe only products that have been certified by a national or provincial program, effectively closing a loophole that allowed farmers to use the term without being certified, providing they were not selling their products outside B.C.

The national standard, known as the Canadian Organic Regime (COR), is the one that all producers or processors certified under COABC must meet. The issue is that if the

14 British Columbia Berry Grower • Spring 2015

our products are certified organic”. Agriculture minister Norm Letnick says the province is going to create a new

streamlined provincial certification system that will apply to all organic berry producers and others. “We are going to upgrade the rules and regulations of the organic industry to help farmers who want to become organic to do so.”

The Ministry of Agriculture is now in consultation with organic producers and the COABC to create a new category of organic — one that is less complicated and more user friendly. The requirements will be the same; they will have to meet the Canadian organic standard to be able to claim ‘organic.’

“It is not fair to the consumer to have to wonder if a product is really meeting the organic standard,” comments Forstbauer.

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