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History

Establishing the OFC

The Canadian regulations, which came into full force in June 2009, ensure that products making the organic claim are grown, handled, processed and labelled in accordance with the Canadian government’s regulations and standards

For years now, a group of organic stakeholders have lobbied for rigorous and applicable Canadian organic regulations and standards. In 2002, this group formed an ad hoc Canadian Organic Regulatory Committee to work with the federal government on the development of federal regulations to frame and enforce Canada’s organic standards.

The proposed Organic Products Regulations were published on September 2, 2006 in Canada Gazette, Part 1, and then registered on December 14, 2006. It was decreed that the regulations would come into force two years after their registration date. But an official amendment to the Organic Products Regulation has been published in the Canada Gazette (II), delaying implementation of the new regulation until June 30, 2009.

"Through these regulations, Canada's New Government is providing a competitive advantage for the Canadian organic sector and protecting consumers," commented the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board, who announced final publication of the Organic Products Regulations on December 22, 2006.

The original activists and stakeholders were delighted that the Organic Products Regulations of Canada were adopted, but they realized that adoption is not the end of the story — it’s the beginning of a new era of discussion among organic producers, processors, enterprises, consumers and Parliament. In November 2006, the Canadian Organic Regulatory Committee voted to formally establish the OFC as an official forum to unite, consult and promote the interests of all stakeholders in the organic sector.

Paddy Doherty (ex-OFC treasurer) was hired in 2003 by the Certified Organic Associations Board of British Columbia to help drive home the Canada Organic Products Regulations to make Canada more competitive in the export marketplace and boost consumer confidence in Canadian organic products. A threat by the European Union to embargo Canadian organic imports unless they implemented an acceptable organic program lent urgency to the task.

For Doherty, the job entailed organizing national meetings, minutes and teleconference calls, and translating everything official from English into French and vice versa to meet Canada’s dual-language protocols. It meant three years of working to establish common understandings across cultures, places and industry sectors.

The New Farm® Newsletter, December 2007, Pamela Irving

© Organic Federation of Canada