The Support Organic Change Fund is Available to Help Ontario Farmers Convert to Organic

As the Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA)’s 2020 organic market report has revealed, there is a growing demand for Canadian organic food both internally and domestically. Canada experienced an incredible $8.138 billion in annual organic sales last year and currently has the sixth-largest organic market in the world. 

While the organic sector has seen tremendous growth over the past year (the largest among the Canadian agricultural industry), demand is still outpacing supply.

As the 5,900 organic farmers across Canada can attest, the long-term benefits of transitioning to organic far outweigh the initial transition costs. Some of these benefits include: 

  • Crops that are more resistant to drought and flooding
  • Healthy soils that can improve plant quality and health
  • Less reliance (and reduced expenses) on off-farm inputs like feed and agrochemicals
  • Access to organic premium prices and a niche market
  • More involvement in the natural environment

However, these benefits are preceded by the initial challenges that can make transitioning difficult for many farmers, including the upfront cost. The Support Organic Change Fund aims to address these challenges head-on.

What is the Support Organic Change Fund?

COTA launched the Support Organic Change Fund in 2019 to encourage farmers to transition to organic. Organic transition can have significant upfront costs and, since it can take up to three years to clear the soil of all prohibited substances, the benefits of transitioning often cannot be realized immediately. The Support Organic Change Fund is designed to help ease the financial burden for farmers just beginning to transition. The Support Organic Change Fund is privately sponsored by Seeds of Change and Mills St. Brewpub.

What Expenses Does the Fund Help Cover? 

The fund will help cover the costs of transitioning, including reimbursements up to $1,000 per year. This money will be used to cover 64.18% of certification costs, including transitional certification inspections, application fees, inspection costs, travel/per diem for inspectors, user fees, sales assessments and postage. 

What Successes Has the Program Had Already? 

The Support Organic Change Fund has already seen amazing success across Canada. It has provided funding to 95 producers who have converted 8,483 acres of farmland to organic, and since 2019 participation has increased by 79 percent. The fund is working both to assist farmers making the transition and help meet the growing demand for organic products. 

The Support Organic Change Fund’s Ontario reach has been limited to date, with only 3 Ontarian farmers having fully utilized the fund. 

The COVID pandemic has forced organic farmers to confront many tremendous difficulties throughout the supply chain, making the fund all the more useful for farmers wishing to transition to organic. It is helping the organic community build capacity and resilience in the face of changing environments and economies.

Who is Eligible for the Fund? 

To be eligible for the fund, producers must have proof of having received organic certification fewer than 12 months ago. This can be done by showing proof of certification or pre-certification in your application. You will not be considered for the fund if you have abandoned your certification or have cancelled it in the last five years. 

How Long is the Fund Running For? 

The Support Organic Change Fund will continue into 2022 and the Organic Conversion Support Program is still accepting applications for the 2021 program but the applications will close on June 30th, 2022.

For More Information

If you are interested in applying to this program, please explore the application guidelines to find out if you qualify and how to submit your application.

If you have any questions about the application process you can email [email protected].

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