P.E.I. is a leader in some respects when it comes to support for organic farmers, but has other areas it needs to work on, according to a benchmark report on the state of the industry in Canada.

The State of Organics: Federal-Provincial-Territorial Performance Report 2017, from the Canada Organic Trade Association, is a first look at regulation and support of the industry across the country, both nationally and provincially. The association aims to produce the report annually.

Each jurisdiction was rated in four areas, and P.E.I.'s marks were mixed.

  • Regulation and enforcement: One star.
  • Production supports: Three stars.
  • Market supports: Three stars.
  • Data collection: One star.

Janice Melanson, executive director of Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network, which participated in the production of the report, said P.E.I. got low marks for not having provincial regulations. National regulations, Melanson said, do not apply to produce sold within the province where it is grown.

"If there is no regulation or enforcement there's no way to ensure that there are not fraudulent organic product claims," Melanson said.

'Bit of a leader'

But Melanson said P.E.I. is a good place for farmers looking to change over to organic production.

"[P.E.I.] can be considered a bit of a leader because they have specific organic support from the organic industry development program," she said.

"That program provides funding for transition support for farmers, extension services and research. Because it is organic-specific funding they are considered one of the leaders in the country."

Across the country, Melanson said, there is an issue with data collection, which makes it difficult for farmers to know what consumers are looking for when it comes to organic produce.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story included a statement from Melanson that federal regulations apply only to trade within province. Melanson was mistaken. In fact, federal regulations include only trade among provinces.
    Jul 18, 2017 12:12 PM AT
With files from Krystalle Ramlakhan