MacAulay announces $8.3 million for organic research


Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay kicked off the second leg of his “Growing Canadian Agriculture” tour today in Mara, B.C. by meeting with organic farmers.

MacAulay announced an $8.3 million commitment to the Organic Federation of Canada at his first stop.

The organic research cluster, which will receive an additional $4.4 million in industry contributions, will focus on soil health and fertility management, crop breeding, pest management, and assessing the environmental impacts of organic farming. The funds are coming from the AgriScience Clusters program under the new Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

The cluster will fund 28 research projects, with work done by 60 researchers at 15 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research centres and 14 universities and research institutions, according to the Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF.)

WGRF is investing $675,000 towards nine projects included in the cluster, including organic soybean production, breeding of winter cereals, diversified cropping strategies to improve sustainability, innovative weed management tools and soil health.

“This funding will allow researchers to continue improving the sustainability of agricultural practices, which is at the heart of organic production,” notes James Robbins, president of the Organic Federation of Canada, in a news release.

MacAulay also announced $292,555 to assist the organic industry in “streamlining the review process of the Canadian Organic Standards and improve the Canadian organic industry’s competitiveness and international market access.” This funding is in addition to $250,000 announced by the minister in January to complete the 2020 review of the Canadian Organic Standards.

“As the fastest-growing sector in Canadian agriculture, we have a keen interest in ensuring that Canada’s Organic Standards are updated to reflect the latest trends, research and innovations within the organic growing and processing industries,” Tia Loftsgard, COTA’s executive director says in a news release.

In 2016, 4,289 farms reported organic farming in Canada, with the total acreage of 2,434 thousand acres.

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