Combining at sunset

About Organics

What does organic mean and how does it work?

Organic production is a holistic system designed to optimize the productivity and fitness of diverse communities within the agro-ecosystem, including soil organisms, plants, livestock and people. The principal goal of organic production is to develop operations that are sustainable and harmonious with the environment.

Organic production is regulated federally through the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and provincially through the Organic Agricultural Products Act whereby food, feed, or seed products represented as organic must be certified according to the Canadian Organic Systems: General Principles and Management Standards. These standards outline the organic standards for all types of organic farming and food production. Certified organic farms and food processors must also abide by the Canadian Organic Standards: Permitted Substances list. 

Certified organic farms and food processors are inspected annually by 3rd party Certifying Bodies. This system ensures integrity of the Canadian Organic label across Canada and in the global marketplace. When clarification of the standard is necessary, individuals can request an interpretation from the Organic Standards Interpretation Committee. This committee includes representatives from across the organic sector.

The Canadian Organic Standards are reviewed on a regular basis to support continual improvement of the standard and of the sector. The next review will take place in 2020. Find out more information through the Organic Federation of Canada.

The Organic Sector in Manitoba

Organic Farming

In 2017, Manitoba had 220 certified organic farms in the province with 117,000 acres under certified organic management. The largest sectors in organic farming in Manitoba is forage production and cropping. Over the past few years growth has been mainly in organic wheat, oats and barley production. Organic hemp has also been a growing portion of organic acres in Manitoba. The number of organic livestock producers remains fairly stable while acreage of vegetables and fruits has been increasing. (Source: Canadian Organic Trade Association, Organic Agriculture on the Prairies, 2017 Data)

Research in Organics

The University of Manitoba boasts a strong research program for organic agriculture led by Dr. Martin Entz and his team of researchers and students. Their work focuses on:

  • Organic cropping systems
  • Long-term organic vs conventional crop production systems
  • Farmer participatory organic crop breeding
  • Crop-livestock integration
  • Conservation agriculture

Organic Processing

Manitoba has seen significant growth in the organic process sector going from 50 companies in 2015 to 70 in 2017.