Manitoba legislation will require producers to be certified according to national standards
By: Lindsey Wiebe: Winnipeg Free Press – PRINT EDITION
It’s farm fresh, pesticide-free, and, you’ve been assured, all natural. But is it organic?
New legislation in the works in Manitoba will put restrictions on which producers can call their wares organic, matching a standard that’s already in place across Canada.
Under the Organic Agricultural Products Act, only those who have organic certification will be able to promote themselves as organic. Certification is an annual process in which farms or producers agree to follow a particular set of organic standards, and are inspected to ensure they’re meeting those standards.
“What the act means is, if you’re marketing organic products within the province of Manitoba, you need to be certified,” said Melanie Rivard, an administrative co-ordinator with the Organic Producers Association of Manitoba (OPAM), a local certification body.
“You cannot use the term organic in any of its forms to describe your food if you’re not certified.”
Manitoba’s organics act was passed in 2007 but has yet to be proclaimed, although a provincial organics expert said it’s hoped that will happen this fall. There are currently no restrictions on use of the word “organic” in Manitoba, although producers plying their goods elsewhere in the country have had to comply with national standards since 2011.
“It’s going to create a domino effect across Canada,” said Laura Telford, organic marketing specialist for the province, of the new act. Telford said a couple of other provinces have their own organic rules, but Manitoba will be the first to mirror the Canadian standard and, as such, will be watched closely by the rest of the country.