Afederal-provincial agreement on how to enforce Manitoba laws governing organic trade within the province is still months away.
Manitoba was initially expected to introduce laws mirroring national Canada’s Organic Products Regulations (OPR) last June, at the same time the federal regulation came into force.
But CFIA and Manitoba are still sorting out an agreement on how the federal agency will enforce the provincial laws.
The process is delayed because multiple committees are reviewing the document that details this, said John Hollinger, provincial organic specialist with Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives. Every revision must be reviewed and scrutinized by federal and provincial lawyers.
“It’s not a long document,” Hollinger said. “It’s a memorandum of understanding. But everyone wants to get this right the first time. And any issues raised by this thing have to be answered now.
“We hate to keep telling everyone it’s delayed but when you’re dealing with bureaucracies at either end it does take a little longer,” he added.
Priscilla Reimer, who chairs the Manitoba Organic Alliance (MOA) says it’s unfortunate Manitoba’s law didn’t come into effect at the same time of the June 30 enforcement of the national standard.
“It continues to leave the impression that it’s OK to continue to use the word ‘organic’ in this province when an item is not certified organic,” Reimer said April 10. “In some cases there’s a kind of ‘who cares’ and ‘who’s going to enforce it’ type of attitude,” she said.
Manitoba introduced the Organic Products Regulation Act to ensure that locally grown and sold organic product be certified. (See related story on page 23.)
The new federal regulation replaced all voluntary regulations with CFIA in charge of enforcement.
Manitoba would be the first Canadian province to introduce a provincial law that mirrors federal legislation on organic trade.
Hollinger said the province is hoping an agreement can be reached by summer.
Meanwhile, Hollinger said, the delay in the process does not mean sellers of organic products can assume they can continue to label product as organic if it is not produced in accordance with organic standards.