With $8.138 billion in annual sales, Canada is the sixth-largest organic market in the world. Despite double-digit production growth, demand continuously outpaces supply in Canada, says the Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA). Two-thirds of Canadians purchase organic products weekly, and organic is the fastest-growing part of the Canadian agriculture landscape. As a response to mounting domestic and international demand, COTA launched the Organic Conversion Support Program in 2019, through the Support Organic Change Fund, to support farms and livestock producers as they convert their operations to certified organic to meet this global demand. The program is privately funded by sponsors Seeds of Change and Mill Street Brewery.
The support initiative helps organic producers financially with their added costs incurred while transitioning to organic farming by reimbursing for certification costs up to $1,000. More than 8,400 acres were converted over the past two years assisting 94 producers nationally. The Support Organic Change Fund is working to meet the demand for more organic products by leveraging and incentivizing farmers to make the switch.
Over 5,900 farmers have converted to organic in Canada. Since 2019, program participation numbers have increased steadily by 79 per cent. The most funded producers by province are Quebec with 60, British Columbia with 12, the Prairies with 7, the Maritimes with 4, and Ontario with 3. The program assisted producers growing the following products during the 2020 program: vegetables at 34 per cent, fruit at 34 per cent, field crops at 20 per cent, livestock at 14 per cent, and maple at 3 per cent.