COVID-19 Updates and Resources
For the latest COVID-19 information for organic farmers and producers in BC, please see the COABC blog. We'll update it as soon as new information comes in, so check back often.
For the latest COVID-19 information for organic farmers and producers in BC, please see the COABC blog. We'll update it as soon as new information comes in, so check back often.
As the COVID-19 situation evolves, we are receiving updates from the BC Ministry of Agriculture (BCMA), BC Agriculture Council (BCAC), BC Farmers Markets Associations and other organizations. Official COABC Letter
As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, the COABC office has decided to take precautionary measures to protect our employees and our community.
The COABC office will move to a 'work at home' scenario for employees to implement recommendations regarding social distancing. Doctors are recommending that anyone able to work from home, should. By Wednesday, March 18, our employees will begin working from home rather than the office.
During this time, we ask that you contact us by email rather than phone. Our contact information can be found on the Contacts page on our website. We don't anticipate our work being affected substantially — we will still be available to respond to your enquiries and provide support to BC's organic sector.
And now, more than ever, we also ask that you continue to support our local food system. Organic farmers and producers across the province are working hard behind the scenes to ensure communities have access to fresh, healthy food. Many are implementing online ordering systems, home deliveries and other creative methods of making their food more accessible during these uncertain times.
We've always been inspired by the resilience of BC's organic sector and the strength of our community and we know that together we will come out stronger than ever. We encourage you to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns.
After much hard work and contributions from many COABC members, we are excited to announce that iCertify, COABC's new online organic certification system, is now live!
When: Feb. 28 – Mar. 1, 2020
Where: Executive Hotel Vancouver Airport in Richmond
Have you discovered a person or company who is falsely marketing their products as organic in British Columbia?
Here's what to do.
B.C.'s agriculture sector is set to see another funding increase, as laid
out in Budget 2019, announced today by Finance Minister Carole James.
Join us at the 2019 COABC Conference at the Prestige Hotel in Vernon! This year we are celebrating the 26th Anniversary of the COABC. Attending our conference provides educational and networking opportunities for new and established farmers, as well as for the general public. We feature educational topics presented by knowledgeable speakers who are experts in their field.
Please note that the office has been experiencing technical difficulties with sending and receiving emails. If you have tried to contact us and have not heard a response, please re-send your email or call us at 250-260-4429 ext. 3. Thank you for your patience.
Thanks to BC's Ministry of Agriculture, we are entering a new age of clarity for everyone purchasing and selling organic products. The new regulations mean that all products marketed as organic in BC must be certified organic - click to learn more about what this means for producers, consumers, and the organic sector.
The Province of B.C. has created a page of Frequently Asked Questions about the Organic Certification Regulation. The FAQs are meant to further assist producers, processors and other operators along the organic food supply chain to understand the new regulatory requirements.
The Accreditation Board (AB) of the COABC is seeking 1 new BCCOP Producer member for a 3-year term, starting in October 2018. Please see the following posting here and send your resume and cover letter to email@example.com.
The Canadian General Standards Board has published the amended versions of the following standards:
Grow BC, Feed BC, Buy BC, initiatives to strengthen B.C.'s agrifood and
seafood sector and expand the domestic market for B.C. food and beverage products, are the focus of Budget 2018 for the B.C. Agriculture sector.
The Organic Online System is an innovative province-wide online tool for organic certification. Using the Organic Online System, operators will be able to apply for and renew certification online. Click for more info and answers to Frequently Asked Questions.
Friday February 23 to Sunday February 25, 2018
Beginning fall of 2018, producers, processors and handlers of organic food and beverage products will require documentation verifying their products have accredited organic certification – this includes farm gate sales, farmers' markets and retail stores. The new regulation is driven by a consumer need for clear definitions and regulations around the term "organic". What does this mean for producers?
Click Here for information about the regulation and its impact on producers, both certified and non-certified, as well as a primer on the certification process and the support available to producers who plan to transition. Essential reading for everyone from farmers currently using organic practices to bakeries labeling products as organic.
The COABC is introducing a group benefit plan exclusively for its members. The Benefit plan will include coverage of Life Insurance, Drug coverage and dental coverage. Every member will have the opportunity to pick from an option of three plans based on their individual budget. Each option has a corresponding rate for single coverage and family coverage. Some of the advantages to using the Association Plan are but not limited to;
We're excited to announce the development of the Organic Online System to streamline the organic certification process. The new online system will save farmers and processors time, support those transitioning to certified organic, and provide ongoing, reliable data about the organic sector that will help us grow.
COABC would like to extend our gratitude to the BC and Canadian governments for providing the funding for this essential tool, and for their ongoing support of certified organic. We’re thrilled to be working with the Ministry of Agriculture to build a strong organic sector that supports farmers and food producers.
"The development of Organic Online System will help more B.C. farmers meet the growing demand for local, certified organic products, and support opportunities and growth for small businesses. By becoming certified, new entrants to organics are joining a brand of recognized standards that consumers can purchase with certainty, and joining more than 650 B.C. farms producing, or transitioning to producing, COABC-certified organic goods.” - Norm Letnick, B.C. Minister for Agriculture
More details can be found over at the Ministry of Agriculture - please take a look, share, and don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions!
It's time to celebrate Organic Week, and we're hitting the road to bring you the latest and greatest in organic!
From Certification 101 and Marketing for Farmers to the Organic Okanagan Festival and The Juicery Co.'s Farm to Bottle, there's something here for everyone, farmers and food lovers alike. So come on down and join the 100% certified organic fun!
Check out the event on Facebook and invite your community: www.facebook.com/events/575288089310045
We can't wait to see you there! See below for detailed info on each workshop:
CERTIFICATION 101: BASICS AND BEYOND
with Rochelle Eisen
Farmers in Northern BC will welcome Rochelle Eisen for a six stop workshop series that covers the basics of organic certification, and then some. The workshop will help you assess how close your operation is to being organic and will detail the next steps necessary to take the next steps towards certification. Also look forward to information on the standards and regulations of organic certification and identify resources for transitioning to organic. Rochelle promises that no question will go unanswered, so be sure to hold her to that with some tough questions!
DIY ANIMAL FEED
with Dr. Blair and Dr. Bejaei
Sept 17 (1:00pm - 4:30pm) UBC Farm Yurt, Vancouver
Learn how to make home-grown organic poultry and pig feed. The workshop will provide instructions to organic farmers on how to use a computer to formulate adequate feed mixtures for organic poultry and pigs that maximize the use of home-grown feeds. Recommendations on further home study to provide a more thorough understanding of correct feed formulation will be provided. Professor Emeritus Robert Blair is an animal nutritionist who has written several textbooks on the nutrition and feeding of organic poultry and livestock. Dr Masoumeh Bejaei is an animal scientist who has formulated many feed rations for animal farms using their locally available feed resources.
with Cara Nunn of NOOA & SOOPA
Sept 17 Kamloops Farmers Market
Cara Nunn, the administrator for the North Okanagan Organic Association and the Similkameen Okanagan Organic Producers Association, will be presenting the organic certification programs available, including certification requirements, the startup and ongoing costs included, and the assistance and resources available. If you’re farming in the Okanagan and seeking guidance on certification, be sure to mark this on your calendar!
with Candice Appleby
Sept 22 3:30pm – 5:00pm
Vancouver Island Visitor Centre Board Room, 3607 Small Road #101, Courtenay
Candice Appleby, executive director of the Small Scale Food Processors Association, presents—come out for what’s sure to be a gold mine of organic info. With over a decade of experience working in the value-added food industry, Candice has extensive experience in food safety programs and financing farming ventures. She works closely with government, industry associations, and individual producers on a wide range of local, provincial and national food issues.
MARKETING FOR FARMERS
with Darcy Smith
Sept. 23 – 10:00am
KPU Richmond Campus
Farming isn't just mixing your own pig feed—marketing is a bigger part of running a farm business than some people expect. Luckily, the Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA) and COABC teamed up to develop a resource to make marketing easy.
FARM TO BOTTLE
with Christina Prevost of The Juicery
Sept. 23 - 5:00pm
Pemberton Farmers Market, 7438 Frontier Street
The importance of quality local organic produce is very important to The Juicery Co. The farm has offered an opportunity to grow our own product, manage the quantity and quality, and ensure freshness. With no experience farming, the learning curve has been steep. Growing and harvesting our own vegetables has been an amazing experience. The importance of organics for health is a message we love to share. Farm to Bottle, like farm to table, is all about freshness, less carbon footprint and maintaining quality control of the product. Christina Prevost of The Juicery Co. and The Family Farm will talk about the challenges and opportunities that have presented themselves during her journey from first learning about the importance of organics, to creating the farm to bottle product.
ORGANIC OKANAGAN FESTIVAL / PANEL ON TRANSITION
Sept 25 Summerhill Winery, Kelowna
Sept. 25 - 1:00pm – 1:45pm
Moderator: Bob McCoubrey, and Panel: Robert Dixon, Tirso Gonzales, John Wells
We look forward to the Organic Okanagan Festival every year, and this year is no exception! The theme of the festival’s 11th year is Transition to an Organic Future, and COABC is hosting a discussion panel moderated by Bob McCoubrey. Join us for a day of delicious organic food and nourishing conversation about the future of BC’s thriving organic sector.
This project is supported by Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.
Generations learning and sharing together - that's what mentorship is all about, and organic farmers do it so well!
Check out how here...
Yes, according to BC organic farmer Nicholas Peterson
Find out more here...
British Columbia is a leader in organic food and farming. But why get certified?
Organic farming is important because it looks at the whole picture, soil nutrition, soil health and building that; also, formalizing our commitment to working with nature and leaving this piece of land healthier and better than when we found it. Learn more here...
BC Ministry of Agriculture Introduces Mandatory Organic Regulations to the House
Victoria, BC (February 15, 2016) – Soon, if you see the word "organic" on a food product in BC, you won't have to wonder if it's certified, or how it’s been grown. That’s because last year, BC’s Ministry of Agriculture committed to bringing clarity to organic foods sold across the province – and today, the provincial government took action as Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick introduced Bill 11, the Food and Agricultural Products Classification Act in the House. For BC's organic farmers, processors, and consumers, this is an important step forward. View PDF
COABC would like to thank the BC Ministry of Agriculture for appreciating the value of this new regulation. We are excited to continue working with the Ministry of Agriculture to build a strong organic sector that promotes consumer confidence and supports farmers and food producers.
What's in a seed? For farmers, seeds are pure magic, a symbol of life, and full of possibility. From the seeds they lovingly plant in the earth each season, to the seeds of knowledge handed down from generation to generation, farmers share a bit of this magic.
A big part of what we do as organic producers is make sure that we have what we need to move forward building a better food system: the seeds that give life, and the seeds of knowledge that are giving life to a new generation of farmers. Learn more here...
What is organic? To the farmers growing food and getting their hands dirty every day, organic is everything. A way of life, a way forward to a better food system, and, of course, a way to grow healthy, delicious food that is good for people and the planet.
We hope you enjoy this peek into the truly unique, often challenging, and always rewarding life of an organic farmer - and that you're inspired to learn more about the soil-nurturing, life-affirming philosophy and practices at the heart of the organic movement. Learn more here...
Vernon, BC (September 21, 2015) – Big news for organic farmers, processors, and consumers alike this
week as BC’s provincial government solidifies their commitment to regulating the term organic with an
intentions paper outlining the regulation and its scope.
This is an important step forward for the organic sector. COABC supports the introduction of mandatory organic certification, and would like to extend great thanks to BC’s Ministry of Agriculture for recognizing the importance and value of this action. COABC is working with the ministry to support this move, and look forward to future developments that help the growth of the organic sector.
Full PDF News Release
Every farmer needs a good set of tools. With the official launch on June 24, 2015 of the Prepare Organic Food online toolkit, BC farmers now have the information tools they need to develop successful organic businesses. The third in our Organic Food toolkit series, Prepare Organic Food joins Grow Organic Food and Market Organic Food as indispensable items in every organic farmers virtual toolbelt.
Check out Prepare Organic Food to find out more about everything from post-harvest handling procedures, to managing supply chain challenges, to organic certification standards. Find it here.
Join in this September, when people from around BC and all across the country get together to celebrate National Organic Week. It's a week filled with festivities, fun, and wonderful organic food -- all to raise awareness of certified organic farming and food production and it's many benefits for our environment and our health.
From farm tours to food tastings, from potlucks to ploughing workshops, there's something for everyone during National Organic Week! To find an event in your community, or to register your event, visit organicweek.ca.
Hey, BC producers -- did you know there are downloadable and customizable Organic Week materials to help you promote your certified organic products at farmer markets and retail outlets? Check out the posters and graphics available at organicweek.ca.
COABC is a regional partner in National Organic Week, which is organized by Canadian Organic Growers and the Canadian Organic Trade Association.
VICTORIA – The Ministry of Agriculture is consulting with the organic sector about developing a three pillar approach to strengthen the awareness and reputation of B.C.'s organic foods, locally, across Canada, and around the world.
The consultations involve regulating the use of the term "organic", developing transitional strategies that support farmers to become certified, creating business strategy and market development programs, and creating a brand to market B.C. organic foods.
The 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 certification body, just as they do today.Full PDF News Release
With three new business guides for conventional producers, the OVCRT aims to convince more farmers and processors to get the "Organic Advantage."
Canada's organic sector needs to significantly increase its production capacity to keep up with the ever-growing consumer demand for organic products. To help spur growth in the sector, the Organic Value Chain Roundtable (OVCRT) has recently released three new guides targeted to conventional growers that provide a strong business case for going organic. Each commodity-specific guide provides beef, grain and vegetable producers with an overview of the economics, market opportunities, and government/industry resources available to help guide new entrants towards a successful transition.
Most certified organic farmers would agree, the first visit from an organic inspector can be unnerving. What will they ask? What will they look at?
Thanks to a new video produced by the COABC with funding from Vancity, the inspection process just got a lot less stressful for new organic farmers. "What to Expect From an Inspection..." is a six-minute video following verification officer Dwight Brown as he tours Stepney Hills Farms in Armstrong BC, explaining exactly what an organic inspector looks for, and what farmers can do to prepare for their inspection.
Whether you're a new certified organic entrant, considering becoming certified, or simply want to learn more about the inspection process for certified organic farms, check it out. You'll learn how the inspection puts together a complete picture of an organic farm, ensuring that BC's certified organic farms are healthy, sustainable and productive.
Stay tuned for further videos exploring the organic certification process.
April 10, 2014 - The Certified Organic Association of BC (COABC) is the voice for the organic Agriculture Sector in the province, with a membership of 650 operations across BC. COABC feels there was not adequate consultation with farmers before the introduction of Bill 24 and does not support the loss of agricultural land from the ALR, particularly in the North and Kootenays.
"The highest percentage of acreage in organic production is in the North. If we lose any of our grain producing land in Northern BC it will impact our ability as a province to have agriculture as a high income producer." states Susan Snow, Co-Chair of COABC.
The COABC agrees with the latest statement from the BC Food Systems Network that BC must protect its Northern agricultural land for the food security of the entire province. According to BC Ministry of Agriculture statistics, the province of British Columbia is not even producing 50% of its current food requirements. Areas in the North and in the Kootenays are the only acreages left that can be brought into more intensive production to meet the rising demand for local food.
"We believe that consumers want the cleanest, healthiest food that farmers can grow," Snow proclaims. "Any type of non-farm activity around agriculture increases the possibility of pollution of water, land and air."
In addition, COABC would like to see small parcels of agricultural land embraced and not marginalized. It is not fair that smaller plots of agriculture land need a higher income per acre than larger operations to receive the tax breaks. Many of our members are making their living farming small plots. We can't afford to be giving away productive or marginally productive land. Once it's given away, we are not going to get it back.
A partnership between Organic Alberta, Saskatchewan Organic Directorate (SOD), Manitoba Organic Alliance (MOA) & Certified Organic Association of British Columbia (COABC), the directory lists all companies that provide services or processed products to businesses in the organic sector. From the producer to the retailer, the directory connects the Western Canadian organic sector.
This directory is being distributed by the provincial associations such as COABC. It is available for free online for download < button id="directory" class='btn btn-xs btn-coabc-green'>Download Here. To purchase your hard copy for only $6.00 Purchase Here
Canada's organic market grew to $3.7 billion in 2012, with national sales of certified organic food and non-alcoholic beverages reaching $3 billion. The value of the Canadian organic food market has tripled since 2006, far outpacing the growth rate of other agri-food sectors. A diverse consumer base is driving the sector, with 58% of all Canadians buying organic products every week.
In BC, two-thirds of consumers—and over three-quarters of Vancouverites—are buying organic groceries weekly. BC generated 23% of the value of the national organic food and beverage market with strong sales across distribution channels.
Read the entire study conducted by the Canada Organic Trade Association here.
The Certified Organic Associations of BC (COABC) undertook research to better understand the needs and issues of non-certified organic producers which deter them from participating in organic certification programs, and investigate possible solutions. The COABC Small-Scale Certification Research Project (SSCRP) process began with the development of a communications strategy and the creation of an SSCRP Advisory Committee. Once this was completed, the kick off for the project involved the identification of key stakeholders within and outside of COABC to approach for consultation. The intent was to engage with stakeholders throughout the project that have left certification, those that are not certified, but claiming to be organic, and urban agriculturalists.
Read the findings in the project report here.