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Parallel production for crop production in Canada – Acceptable or not?

October 30, 2018

Parallel production is back to the review process!  Are you in favor of parallel production?

Parallel production is not allowed in Canada but it is allowed in the US, and the EU prohibits it with exceptions.

The issue is under debate at the level of the CGSB Committee on Organic Agriculture. Should Canada be more flexible on the issue of parallel production? If it were allowed, could parallel production be managed without compromising organic integrity? Can consumers trust the organic quality of produce grown on a unit where organic and non-organic crops are produced? What is your opinion? To leave a comment, please click on “comment” and then on “reply” at the bottom of the list of comments that will pop up!

Êtes-vous en faveur de la production parallèle en agriculture biologique?

Au Canada, la production parallèle n’est pas permise; cette pratique est acceptée aux ÉU et interdite dans l’UE bien que certaines exceptions soient admises.  Cette pratique fait actuellement l’objet d’un débat au sein du Comité sur l’agrculture biologique de l’ONGC.

Le Canada devrait-il être plus flexible sur la pratique de la production parallèle? Si la production parallèle était permise, pourrait-on la gérer sans compromettre  l’intégrité de la production biologique?  Les consommateurs peuvent-ils se fier à la qualité biologique d’un produit cultivé dans une unité de production où des cultures biologiques et non biologiques sont produites?  Qu’en pensez-vous?  Cliquez sur “Comment” pour accéder à la section des commentaires et émettez votre opinion en cliquant sur “Reply” en bas de la page de commentaires

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24 Comments leave one →
  1. Inspecteur rigueur permalink
    November 19, 2018 4:02 pm

    Je crois que le présent débat est en fait…un faux-débat. Je suis inspectrice en agriculture biologique. À mon avis, les organismes de certification ne se prévalent pas suffisamment de la clause de non-confiance qui se trouve bien souvent dans leur contrat avec le client (opérateur/responsable de l’exploitation biologique). Cette clause permet à l’OC de briser ses liens avec un client pour cause de bris de confiance envers celui-ci. À mon sens, si une entreprise développe des stratagèmes qui lui permettent de contourner la Norme biologique (tels que la création d’une seconde entreprise non-bio avec des terres mitoyennes à celles certifiées biologiques), ceci crée une opacité suffisante pour appeler au bris de la relation de confiance avec l’OC. La norme biologique ne doit pas être affaiblie pour une technicalité telle que la surchage de travail des inspecteurs : c’est aux OC (et toute la filière biologique) d’être rigoureux en refusant la certification aux entreprises qui sont de mauvaise foi et qui font perdre beaucoup de temps!

  2. November 20, 2018 6:48 am

    Parallel production should most certainly not be allowed in Canada.

  3. Cat permalink
    November 20, 2018 3:51 pm

    I think parallel production should NOT be allowed. With already rumours of farmers adding conventional products to organic ones when they are in the transition years, this would only increase skepticism in the market place. It may be a roadblock to expanding, but it is a roadblock that if kept in place, adds at least some integrity. Overall integrity of the market is far more important than rapid expansion.

  4. Arnold Taylor permalink
    November 20, 2018 6:24 pm

    No I don’t think we should have parallel production.

  5. Frank Maddock permalink
    November 20, 2018 10:28 pm

    Parallel production should not be allowed under Canadian Regs. It undermines the integrity of the entire organic movement. The goal should be for producers to transition all acres to organic production.

  6. Tom F Olson permalink
    November 21, 2018 11:39 am

    absolutely should be allowed ,if farmers are caught not following the rules ban them from all organic production for life that would put credibility into the system

  7. Ben Brandsema permalink
    November 22, 2018 12:37 am

    better to acknowledge it is happening and then can do inspections to maintain organic integrity

  8. November 22, 2018 12:44 pm

    Hi All! We welcome further discussion on this topic at OCO and COG’s parallel production webinar on November 29th at 12pm EST.

    Register at: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/yourstandardsyoursay-parallel-production-tickets-49427308410

    Description
    Join the Organic Council of Ontario and the Canadian Organic Growers for a webinar on parallel production! This is the fourth webinar in our #YourStandardsYourSay webinar series.

    During this webinar series, OCO and COG invite you to be informed on some of the issues that are up for debate during the current Canadian Organic Standards’ review process. Parallel production, in particular, has been a contentious issue in organic farming for years. Parallel production refers to the simultaneous production and/or processing of organic and non-organic crops within an operation. It is currently prohibited in Canada but petitions have been submitted to the Canadian General Standards Board’s (CGSB) Committee on Organic Agriculture to lift this ban.

    Want to add your voice to this conversation? Register to learn more and have your say! Hear from a panel of industry experts on:

    What is parallel production?

    Why is it prohibited in Canada?

    The benefits and challenges it presents for organic producers and processors

    Should the ban be lifted or not?

    Panelists
    Hugh Martin, Chair of CGSB Committee on organic agriculture

    Joel Aitken, EcoCert Inspector Coordinator

    Mike MacGilvery, Kirkview Farms

    Andrew St.Jean, Beechwood Agriservices

    Rob Wallbridge,Thompson’s Ltd.

    Register now: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/yourstandardsyoursay-parallel-production-tickets-49427308410

  9. Jacques Dallaire permalink
    November 27, 2018 4:01 pm

    je crois que oui la production parallèle devrait être permise. Si c’était le cas, tout la production de la ferme serait alors sujet à l’inspection alors qu’aujourd’hui, les propriétaires qui ont 2 compagnies, une biologique et l’autre conventionnelle peuvent soustraire la compagnie produisant sous le régime conventionnel de l’inspection. Si l’ensemble de la production de ces entreprises étaient inspectées, cela diminuerait le nombre de fraude potentiel et renfoncerait ainsi la valeur de la certification.

  10. Gary Smith permalink
    November 28, 2018 1:44 pm

    In my opinion, allowing parallel production on Canadian organic farms would be a grave mistake. I’m a professional agrologist and I have been an organic inspector since 1990. During that time I have inspected many hundred organic farms. The bulk of my work has been in Saskatchewan with some in Alberta and Manitoba.

    The rational for my opposition is as follows: Prairie farmers have many crops to choose from that differ in visual identity. For example: spring wheat, durum, oats, barley, rye, flax (brown and golden), peas (yellow, green), lentils (green, red, beluga, French green, Spanish brown), chick peas, faba beans, and probably more. It should not be a hardship for a farmer to choose different crops that are visually identifiable for his/her conventional and organic fields. This especially so considering organic agriculture, for agronomic reasons, should be encouraging diverse crop rotation. Another consideration is the large price gap between conventional and organically produced products. Price differentials of 100 to 300% could entice a farmer to “swing the auger” to a conventional bin to top off an organic load, or whatever.

    • Grayson Meaden permalink
      December 15, 2018 12:12 pm

      Choosing a crop isnt as simple as what you want to grow. Their are a whole host of factors that farmers have to consider, ESPECIALLY organic farmers. One has to take into consideration your land type, your annual precipitation, your crop rotation on that particular field, your weed density and type, your soil conditions, your budget, and what you are equipped to seed/harvest, and most importantly what will be marketable. You can grow the best crop in the world but if nobody wants to buy it, it wont be very profitable. Their are way more factors to consider than how easy crops are to differentiate.

  11. David Proulx permalink
    December 3, 2018 6:07 pm

    La production parallèle est permise dans la transformation alimentaire, il est ausi permis dans la production avec les animaux. Pourquoi ne pouvons-nous pas, les producteurs de grains, avoir droit à la production parallèle?

  12. David Proulx permalink
    December 3, 2018 6:15 pm

    La conversion bio demande d’Avoir un plan de conversion bio avec une date pour atteindre 100% en production bio. Est-ce que cette obligation est nécessaire? Cela nous force à avoir deux compagnies pour ne pas tout convertir les terres d’un seul coup. Convertir une exploitation d’un seul coup est très risqué et peu mener à la faillite si les condition de réussite ne sont pas toutes réunies en même temps. C’est pourquoi la production parallèle serait très utile et éviterait la multiplication des compagnies en dehors de la production bio. Pour bien réussir la conversion, il faut souvent changer les appareils de sarclage; obtenir des quantités suffisantes de fumier, maîtriser les techniques de cultures bio. Cela ne s’apprends pas en deux ans! Et on en apprend encore après 20 ans! En résumé, la production parallèle a sa place dans une culture similaire non différenciée car c’est déjà ce qui se passe de toute façon, mais dans deux compagnies séparées. Arrêtez de jouer à l’Autruche!

  13. December 5, 2018 10:22 am

    La demande de modification à la norme biologique en lien avec la production parallèle vient du fait qu’interdire ce système empêche les organismes de certification d’auditer correctement la production non biologique effectuée par les propriétaires.

    Le groupe de travail reconnaît ce problème, écrivant dans sa réponse : « Permettre la production parallèle permettrait aux inspecteurs de vérifier ce qui se passe dans la section non biologique de la production. »

    Lors du webinaire organisé par OCO sur la question, le président du comité technique de l’ONGC, Hugh Martin, a lui-même affirmé que permettre la production parallèle permettrait plus de rigueur dans l’inspection de la certification biologique.

    Le débat doit se faire en considérant l’optique d’une amélioration de la norme pour assurer la conformité des entreprises. Bien que les débats d’ordre philosophique (engagement des producteurs à adhérer pleinement au mode de production biologique) soient intéressants, on doit évaluer la proposition sur la base de la transparence et la rigueur au niveau de la certification et de l’inspection.

    De manière simple, les membres du comité technique doivent se prononcer sur la question suivante: “Est-ce que permettre la production parallèle améliorerait la rigueur de l’inspection pour la certification biologique au Canada par rapport au système actuel?” OUI OU NON

  14. John Kershaw permalink
    December 9, 2018 11:31 pm

    All farms are unique and with specialty crops we believe parallel production should be allowed or allowed under certain circumstances. In our case we grow perennial crops which are grown for 3-5 years before harvest. It is ridiculous that we cannot expand to other farms with these crops only to find out we are now in a parallel crop situation by planting on these farms while we are harvesting our current certified farms. Financially, our penalty for expansion dollar wise; land rental in our area at $300 acre. If we rent a 50 acre farm to certify organic we have to wait 3 years for the organic certification before we can plant our 3-5 year perennial crop on that land. In 7 years that is $105000 in land rentals before we harvest a crop we grow as a specialty. We are penalized $45000 less any transition crop sales before we can plant our specialty crops. In another example with our crops, we have to build a shade structure for growing these crops. We can clearly demonstrate we haven’t harvested anything from these crops during the 3-5 years on these lands but this not acceptable to the current standards until the land is certified because we have certified crops of these plants being harvested. We have a large financial risk investment to grow our crops. There should be some leeway for CB’s to permit type of production. This is a unique production certifying problem when growing long term perennial crops which needs to be considered with the current organic standards review.

  15. Thierry permalink
    December 10, 2018 4:00 pm

    Je crois que la production parrallèle devrait être permise, selon certaines conditions. Par exemple, un producteur qui produits et des céréales, ne devrait pas être obligé de convertir entièrement sa production au biologique s’il désire faire par exemple, seulement des légumes bios. Je crois que l’obligation de conversion complète viens décourager certains producteurs d’opter pour le biologique. De plus , je crois qu’un producteur qui démontre une intérêt envers la production biologique aura certainement déjà réduit son utilisation de produits chimiques dans ses champs conventionnels. De plus, convertir son entreprise en entier au biologique est très couteux et demande beaucoup de techniques, que les nouveaux producteurs n’ont pas toujours immédiatement.

  16. James Robbins permalink
    December 10, 2018 11:37 pm

    Parallel production increases the possibility of fraud, particularly during times of high organic premiums. Fraud is an important hazard even without allowing parallel production; we shouldn’t increase the hazard.

  17. Morris permalink
    December 11, 2018 2:30 pm

    I believe parallel production should not be allowed for the fear of potential fraud. We must do all we can to maintain the integrity of the Organic label. As an organic farmer, we have many options at our disposal, to maintain the diversity in our crop rotations. I can appreciate that their could be extreme circumstances where a grower might not be able to follow the rule. Maybe there can be an application and approval process for these types of situations?

  18. Lyle Orchard permalink
    December 14, 2018 7:43 pm

    Parallel production should not be allowed in Canada. A ‘slippery slope’ that could undermine the ‘good faith’ involved in transparency and the
    consumers trust in our organic standards.

  19. Grayson Meaden permalink
    December 15, 2018 12:03 pm

    I think parallel production should be allowed as a method of transition into organics. If you take away the ability to slowly transition a conventional farm to organic I think it will deter people from switching. Transitioning to organic is the biggest hurdle for conventional farmers because those 3 years they have to farm organic but sell conventional is too hard on their bankroll. It’s too expensive to seed organic crops and get conventional returns on a whole farm. If a person could transition portions of their farm at a time it would ease the transition into organics and would make conventional farmers less hesitant to convert to organic. That being said I think if someone is certifying part of their conventional farm they should have to put in a plan to convert the whole thing and not stay as part organic and part conventional. Parallel production should be used as a transitional tool and not as a permanent operation.

  20. Cathy Holtslander permalink
    December 15, 2018 2:27 pm

    No, parallel production must not be allowed. If it were allowed it would increase the cost of certification because additional measures would need to be put in place to safeguard against fraud. This would be unfair because fully organic farmers would bear additional costs in order to allow for parallel producers’ certification. It would also lead to pressure to weaken standards, as those operations using parallel production would likely be larger, focussed on profit, able to afford time and money to lobby for changes that would benefit them. Organic producers need to be fully committed to organic methods. The agrochemical industry would like to discredit organics in order to diminish our market share – if they can point to parallel production operations as “not really organic” and “just in it for the money” it will undermine the reputation of organics in Canada. We have already seen that in the USA. There is greater risk of market loss and price discounts even if parallel producers just make honest mistakes and accidentally put non-organic product into the system. Every time there is a contamination incident or animal welfare violation the consumers feel betrayed. There are some who would reject organic altogether as a result. Parallel production is a risk we cannot afford to take.

  21. Erling Brakefield permalink
    December 15, 2018 9:39 pm

    I agree completely with Grayson Meaden!

  22. December 16, 2018 1:23 am

    Much of this discussion is based on a false premise.
    The reality is that parallel production of field crops in Canada is already widespread (at least in certain parts of the country).

    It’s not called parallel production because the operations in question are simply setting up a second legal entity to administer the organic portion of their production. On paper and during their organic inspection process, there’s only organic production, but on the farm and during day-to-day operations, there’s organic and conventional/transitional.

    The end result is less transparency and less accountability because only the organic parts of the complete operation are subject to the full oversight of the certification body.

    The real question here is not, “should we permit parallel production?”
    That ship has sailed.
    The real question is: Should we bring all parts of operations producing both conventional and organic products under the full oversight of organic certification bodies by removing administrative barriers that sustain the illusion of no parallel production?

  23. Greg Sundquist permalink
    December 16, 2018 3:25 pm

    I would allow parallel production for the following reasons:

    Parallel production is happening now. How many farms are incorporated but the organic portion is operated personally?

    What is the concern with parallel production? If testing measures are available and our ability to test for glyphospate etc down to a ppb should be easy to detect fraudulent activity. Currently as a conventional producer in transition I have to sign variety declarations, pesticide use declarations etc. I know that if I am not honoring those commitments I am financially responsible. It is a strong deterrent to ensure I follow proper practices.

    If the production is overstated that should be easy to determine. Crop Ins records, area records should be available? If someone is producing 40 bpa of a crop and other farmers in area are at 15 perhaps an inspection should be completed.

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