One of the organic sector’s biggest challenges is a lack of timely, credible information. That includes production, pricing and marketing data – information organic businesses need in order to thrive, and conventional farmers and businesses use to decide whether or not to enter organic production.
“Most of the ways information on livestock and crop production is collected in the agri-food sector lacks an organic filter and tracking of organic information specifically,” explains Carolyn Young, Executive Director of the Organic Council of Ontario (OCO).
And although there are certifying bodies regulating organic production, data collection is only secondary to their primary role of compliance verification, she adds.
To fill that information gap, OCO will receive funding from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to develop an Ontario organic data strategy that will be sustainable long-term. This involves identifying the most relevant data gaps, assessing current and potential data tracking and collection points, and planning for a sustainable organic data strategy solution for the entire sector. OCO will also complete a pilot case study on cost of production benchmarking for grains and oilseeds and commission a production data report.
The end result will be recommendations for more consistent organic data collection so more and better information can be provided to stakeholders, whether through OCO or other mechanisms. Ultimately, better data will help the sector grow their market, make better income predictions, and enable producers to make better decisions about what and how much to produce, according to Young, making this project vitally important to Ontario organic production.
“The Partnership funding is absolutely fundamental to us. OCO has minimal resources and without this support, we wouldn’t be able to carry out this type of work for the sector,” she says.
For more information:
Agricultural Adaptation Council
381 Elmira Road North, Unit 1
Guelph, ON N1K 1H3