Many small-scale farmers are choosing not to certify their farms as organic – and it's not going unnoticed by the Ecological Farmers of Ontario.
"One benefit to the national organic industry to include small-scale farmers is that they are the 'face' of the organic industry," EFAO spokeswoman Fiona Campbell says in an article posted on the organization's website.
"These farmers, who meet their customers every week at the farmers' market, the Community Shared Agriculture drop-off, restaurant backdoor or through opening their barn doors to farm tours, represent Canada Organic's image and brand," she said.
They talk and practice the ideals, but they don't actually get the certification.
"And as any marketer knows, this added value should not be taken for granted," said Campbell.
There are a dozen small-scale farms in the Brant County area that follow the principles of organic growing and local sustainable agriculture, but not all are certified.
Campbell said the Canadian General Standards Board wanted to know why and what could be done differently. So a working group on small-scale organic certification was formed to focus on it.
All were familiar with some of the reasons farmers were choosing not to certify, while still being committed to organic agriculture in their production, but more information was needed.
So they composed a survey to find out why. The results revealed several concerns and impediments.
The biggest one: one size can't fit all. A certification process designed for international and national trade doesn't really work for diversified small farms focused on local markets.
Other concerns included the cost, the amount of paperwork and the responsiveness of certifying bodies to requests.
The group drew up several options to get the hesitant on board:
- a "virtual" process where an inspector would do a virtual tour of the farm rather than an in-person inspection
- a group certification system
- a peer certification process
- and a simplified audit system.
The group is continuing to work on its proposals.
For the full article, go to efao.ca.
More than two-thirds of Ontario Federation of Agriculture members surveyed believe the currently available business risk management programs do not meet their needs, and must be improved as soon as possible.
That's from a survey of about 250 members during the fall, which asked them to rate the performance of government-funded risk management programs. An eye-opening 69% of respondents felt the programs fell short for their farming businesses.
"The message sent by survey participants is very clear," OFA vice-president Keith Currie says in a commentary on the organization's website.
"Business risk management programs must be improved as soon as possible."
Currie notes the survey actually shows a slight improvement over the last one conducted in 2010, which found that 88% were dissatisfied.
There are three categories of business risk management programs: production insurance, Agri-Invest, and Agri-Stability.
In the survey, 77% said the crop insurance program is easy to use, and 80% would recommend it to other farmers.
Agri-Invest also is popular — 76% say they would recommend it to others. The program allows farmers to deposit up to 1% of allowable net sales and receive a matching government contribution. But many survey respondents said they found parts of the program confusing.
Agri-Stability has a lot of critics. Only 43% of respondents were willing to recommend the program. It's a margin-based program available to eligible farmers. Recent changes, including a reduction in coverage, have lower farmer satisfaction, the survey found.
Currie says the OFA will use the survey as it talks to the Ontario government about the crafting of the Growing Forward 3 program.
More details on the survey are available at www.ofa.on.ca.
Growing Forward is a comprehensive federal-provincial-territorial framework aimed at encouraging innovation, competitiveness and market development in Canada's agri-food and agri-products sector.
In Ontario, GF2 offers cost-share to producers, processors, organizations and collaborations to grow profits, expand markets and manage shared risks.
Small organic farmers aren't getting certified | Brantford Expositor.