Organic Trade Association's Organic Newsroom: Canadian Wheat Board policy will benefit organic growers
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2007 Press Releases


Canadian Wheat Board policy will benefit organic growers

For more information, contact:
Matthew Holmes

Sackville, NB, Canada (July 10, 2007)-The Organic Trade Association (OTA) in Canada was pleased to learn that the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) has announced major changes to its policies on organic wheat sales that will result in lower marketing costs for organic growers. On July 4th, a letter was circulated to western organic grain growers; the changes go into effect on August 1.

For some time, many organic grain producers have been critical of the previous producer-direct sales system, which they believed hampered the development of organic markets. Now, a new program, the Organic Fixed Spread Contract (OFSC), addresses organic producers' concerns about volatility, potentially high costs, complexity and interest charges.

"Organic grain has its own cycle of supply and demand, particularly with such strong growth in the organic sector right now," said Matthew Holmes, OTA's Managing Director in Canada. "Under the old system, organic grain pricing was tied to the conventional grain market. The Canadian Wheat Board's policy decision is the responsible action to take, and will allow organic farmers and processors to be more responsive to their market conditions."

OFSC will be simpler than the former buyback process, allowing organic farmers to obtain an export licence or sell inter-provincially by making a low, stable, up-front payment to CWB.

OFSC is expected to lower fees to about $0.05 to $0.15 (Canadian) per bushel, compared to pricing in the previous system that could reach over $1.00 (Canadian) per bushel, depending upon the type of wheat and market destination.

As of August 1, organic and conventional barley is to be exempt from mandatory sales through CWB.

CWB also announced it is increasing resources for organic marketing, with additional staff and the development of a cash-buying program. The details will be announced during the 2007-2008 crop year.

These changes follow CWB consultations with organic producers in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. In April, the marketing board met with some 80 certified farmers in five cities and towns and contacted many more by telephone.

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for the organic industry in North America, with offices in the U.S. and Canada. OTA's mission is to promote and protect the growth of organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public, and the economy. OTA's vision is that organic products are a significant part of everyday life, enhancing people's lives and the global environment.