Ottawa and a group of organic food producers are spending $2.2 million to boost organic production on the Prairies.
“While the Canadian organic food market has tripled since 2006 from $1 billion to $3 billion, organic production has not kept pace,” Organic Alberta executive director Becky Lipton said in a press release.
“This project will support expansion of Canadian organic grain and field crops while simultaneously building resiliency and stability in the sector. By achieving increased quantity and quality we will not only meet the demand but be leaders in continued market expansion.”
The money will go towards the Prairie Organic Grain Initiative, a four-year program being led by Organic Alberta, along with its western Canadian counterparts and several other groups.
The initiative will offer several programs to “entice conventional growers to transition, as well as developing and transferring the knowledge producers need to produce competitive crop yields and build profitability.”
Industry partners — including the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security, Grain Millers, Nature’s Path, General Mills, Dave’s Killer Bread, Cliff Bar and others — are contributing just under $1 million to the project.
The federal funding is coming from Western Economic Diversification. Some of the money will go towards supporting organic groups in marketing efforts through participation in trade shows and international missions.
The government described the organic food industry as “the most dynamic and rapidly growing sector of the global food industry, and is estimated to be a $63-billion (U.S.) global industry.”
Certified organic farms now account for 1.8 per cent of all farms in Canada and 400 western Canadian small- and medium-size enterprises add value to the organic grains sector for further processing, the government said.
“By helping to increase the capacity of western organic growers to compete in the global organic food market, we are ensuring that the western Canadian economy can continue to grow and prosper,” said Michelle Rempel, minister of state for Western Economic Diversification.