Organic trade group’s fund to help with farm fees

Carrots from a Canadian organic garden plot. (MmeEmil/E+/Getty Images)

By Dave Bedard
Glacier FarmMedia staff

The Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA) has set up a new fund it hopes will spare some change in Canadian crop production.

COTA in autumn launched the Support Organic Change Fund, with which it said it hopes to better match Canadian organic crop supply to demand.

Canada is the sixth largest organic market in the world at about $5.4 billion in annual sales, COTA said in a release. “Yet, demand continuously outpaces supply, despite double-digit production growth. Two thirds of Canadians purchase organic products weekly and organic is the fastest growing part of the Canadian agriculture landscape.”

Without the support to train Canadian producers in organic techniques and to back producers during their transitions to organic, “Canada may experience a lost opportunity,” the organization said.

The new fund was expected to subsidize up to 40 organic certification fees for “plant-based” farms to a maximum subsidy of $1,000 per year in 2019, the group said.

The fund is also expected to help cover development costs for an online educational curriculum “to train farmers wishing to transition to organic methods.”

The new fund’s seed money, so to speak, is to come from organic seed and food production company Seeds of Change, which has been a subsidiary of food processor Mars Inc. since 1997.

Seeds of Change will donate one per cent of net proceeds from the sale of its Seeds of Change-branded products to the Support Organic Change Fund for a three-year period, COTA said.

The company “has provided the incubator revenue to launch this industry-wide initiative,” COTA executive director Tia Loftsgard said in the organization’s release.

“We invite the whole of industry and supportive consumers to donate towards the long-term success of the fund to support the organic sector and our Canadian agricultural landscape’s health and wellbeing.”