Growing BC’s organic industry

A proposed change will require all products marketed as organic in B.C. to be certified in a provincial or national certification program.

A proposed change will require all products marketed as organic in B.C. to be certified under either a provincial or national certification program.

A local farmer and head of several provincial organizations applauds efforts to make the meaning of the word organic clear to consumers.

A proposed change will require all products marketed as organic in B.C. to be certified under either a provincial or national certification program. Operators producing and selling their organic products strictly within B.C. will require provincial certification. B.C. companies with customers in other provinces or countries will require certification by a federally accredited body, just as they do today.

For me I think it’s a great positive move and the organic industry has been working with the provincial government to have this happen for quite awhile,” Kevin Klippenstein, owner of Klippers Organics in Cawston, said during a telephone interview Monday.

The new provincial certification program follows the same standards as the national program, but with streamlined record keeping and documentation practices.

Provincial certification offers growers access to the local organic market with less paperwork, while still ensuring B.C. consumers have certainty when purchasing organic foods.

Klippenstein, who is the chair of the Organic Farming Institute of BC, grows a variety of fruits and vegetables at his 40-acre farm in Cawston. Most of the produce is sold at farmers’ markets and to restaurants.

He spends a great deal of time educating customers about what makes his produce organic opposed to other BC growers who make the same claim but don’t have the certification.

Certified organics, not certified organics. It makes it very difficult for anyone to differentiate what’s organic,” he said. “Basically to be certified you go through a process of inspections by a third party to ensure what you’re doing is organic. But the guy next door at this point doesn’t have to do anything, he can just tell you his product is organic because he doesn’t use sprays on the plant. But what he is doing is using sprays around the base of the plant or something else.”

Klippenstein explained that even some organic farmers use sprays of some kind but that they cannot be synthetic and must be natural based.

We don’t use any sprays at our farm,” he said. “We use different methods, crop rotation, companion planting. It’s all about building your soil and creating an ecosystem.”

Although guidelines for the organic certification have not been fully decided a good framework is starting to develop, Klippenstein said, and he’s eager to hear more in the coming months.

I think it’s going to be great for the consumer. It’s not going to make the organic farmer any more money necessarily but it’s going to ensure the consumer is getting what they think they are buying,” he said.

If new guidelines are passed, following the development of an effective and efficient administration and enforcement system and a suitable period of transition, producers and processors that are not certified under either the provincial or federal certification program would not be able to use the term organic to describe or market their products.

Producers, processors and handlers of organic products including farm gate sales, farmers’ markets and retail stores, would be required to have documentation verifying their accredited certification.

Reports by citizens concerned that an uncertified product produced and sold exclusively within B.C. was being marketed as organic would be investigated by the B.C. government.

In addition to conversations with Certified Organic Associations of BC (COABC) and individual farmers, the ministry will be distributing an e-survey seeking input from organic farmers about the proposed model. The responses will be compiled and used to determine how the model being developed should proceed.

By working with B.C. organic sector stakeholders, we’ll develop a model that creates consumer and industry certainty around organic products, and ensures transitional strategies are in place to help small businesses seeking the benefits of joining a brand of recognized organic standards,” B.C. Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick stated in a press release. “There are huge opportunities for local organic food producers in B.C. and around the world and this is a key step the B.C. government and stakeholders are taking to best take advantage of them.”




Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COLUMN: Diminished Parliament means diminished accountability for Canadians

Bloc Quebecois and NDP use resumption of parliament as bargaining chip

Penticton Farmers Market prepares for return

The weekly market was put on-hold for months due to COVID-19

No injuries in Penticton Indian Band structure fire

The structure, which sustained significant damage, was boarded up and seemingly vacant

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

Central Okanagan schools ready to welcome students back

Students are set to go back to school next Monday, June 1

Houseboat company partly owned by Shuswap MLA withdraws controversial ad

The ad welcomed houseboaters from other provinces, contradicting anti COVID-19 measures.

Squabble between campers in North Shuswap leads to bear spraying

An argument over late night partying escalated into a fight which led to one person being sprayed

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

B.C. sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, one death as officials watch for new cases amid Phase Two

Number of confirmed active cases is at 244, with 37 people in hospital

Penticton may soon allow drinking alcohol in some public places

Trying to inconspicuously drink on the beach could become a thing of the past

VIDEO: Flowers stolen from Vernon distillery

Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery captured surveillance footage of the thief in a black car

Most Read