Guelph to move to organic ag certificate in 2018


OrganicBiz staff

Undergraduate students at the University of Guelph will be able to pursue a new certificate in organic agriculture, starting in the fall of 2018.

The university, home to the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC), recently announced that after consultation with students, it has replaced the organic agriculture major of its bachelor of science in agriculture degree with the new certificate.

The certificate is expected to focus on organic standards, environmental and societal impacts, value chain and certification, societal needs and social issues in association with organic agriculture production and distribution.

Students will also be able to select electives focusing on soils, animal and crop production, and society and sustainability, the university said.

There’s “a strong demand from our students who are interested in supplementing their degree with specialized learning in organic agriculture,” OAC dean Rene Van Acker said in a release.

When OAC first developed the major, which was introduced in 2004, the university had interpreted the demand as interest in organic food production, he said, but “we now realize that there is a broader interest from students wanting to study societal impacts and demands.”

In fact, he said, many of the students who indicated interest in the certificate are enrolled in a degree unrelated to food production, such as food science, business, international development and nutrition.

Those students, he said, plan to pursue careers that will work with organic products after the farm gate.

“More and more organic food products are appearing on Canadian supermarket shelves and in farmers’ markets,” Andreas Boecker, OAC’s acting associate dean of academics, said in the same release. “There is certainly a demand for post-secondary graduates in careers along the whole organic agriculture value chain.”

The new certificate, he said, is “one-of-a-kind in Ontario and positions our students with the ability to access a specialization.”