Participating Organizations: Manitoba Organic Alliance (MOA), Organic Food Council of Manitoba (OFCM), Organic Producer Association Manitoba (OPAM)

Session Date: June 14, 2014

Session Location: Food Development Centre- Portage, Manitoba

Prepared by: Lavonne Kroeker, Rural Leadership Specialist, 204-319-0387, Leanne Tibbatts, Rural Leadership Specialist, 204-821-5384

Introduction

The Manitoba Organic Alliance (MOA) identified the need to initiate a planning session involving all organic organizations in the province of Manitoba. As a result, the Organic Food Council of Manitoba (OFCM), the Organic Producers Association of Manitoba (OPAM) and the Business Development Specialist – Organic Marketing with Manitoba Agriculture, Food & Rural Development (MAFRD) were all invited to participate in a session to look at the future of the organic industry.

Manitoba Agriculture Food & Rural Development, Rural Leadership Specialists Leanne Tibbatts & Lavonne Kroeker were asked to facilitate an action planning session on June 14, 2014 which was held at the Food Development Centre in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.

Purpose: To bring Manitoba’s organic organizations together to discuss the future of the organic sector and explore opportunities to collaborate.

Objectives:

  • Provide an update on the status of organic sector proposals and funding programs

  • Discuss current & future service provision from the individual organizations

  • Review the ACTION PLAN document (originally developed March, 2013)

    • Discussion & update on completed activities

    • Update actions and identify program leads & partner organizations for specific action items

  • Develop a framework for an organic sector memorandum of understanding (MOU)

This process was designed to provide the stakeholders with the opportunity to increase efficiencies, build on existing relationships, and clarify roles and responsibilities moving forward.

 

Coming together is the beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success! (Henry Ford)

BEST POSSIBLE OUTCOMES:

Participants were asked to share their perspectives on what the best possible outcome for the session would be.

Responses included:

  • Partnerships rather than individual work; establish one “happy organics family in Manitoba”

  • Work collaboratively

  • Have one voice to government

  • Respect for other organizations

  • Identify which organization can work “best” on certain projects

  • Clarify the role of each organization

  • Talk about consumer education

  • Strong ongoing communication between organizations

Additional discussion points not addressed within the context of discussions at the meeting included:

  • Move forward with the idea of “organic as a choice”

  • How organics can be helpful in addressing global climate change

  • Financial implication of conference calls

FUNDING & PROGRAM OPPORTUNITIES:

Laura Telford, BDS - Organic Marketing with MAFRD provided the stakeholders with an update on the following proposals.

Prairie Organic Development Fund (PODF): This is a pan-Prairie voluntary check-off for organic sector development. The administration would reside within the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate and the money (at least initially) would come from Prairie organic grain buyers who would pay for an annual membership with the fee determined by a company’s total organic sales. The revenue would be managed by a Steering Committee with representation from each province. Funds would support administration, organic associations (each province would receive $35,000 per year, provided there is sufficient revenue) and an Innovations Fund which could be accessed by organic associations and others for specific projects related to marketing, extension and research. Matching funds would be required.

Western Economic Diversification Proposal: This is a pan-Prairie proposal lead by Organic Alberta and submitted by MOA, SOD and OA. The $2.5 million project is for 5 years and focuses on increasing the volume of organic grains in the Prairie region. Activities include extension, research and markets development.

GF2 Growing Visions: Status of project unknown at June 14, 2014 meeting but on June 30, 2014MOA received an approval letter for initiatives that will build the internal capacity of the organization. Eligible costs include hiring a consultant to develop a fundraising and communications strategy, as well as further launch the sector action plan. Funding will cover up to 75% of project costs to a maximum of $7,500.

GF2 Growing Actions: Agricultural organizations can apply for funding to further an industry’s strategic plan. Intake is quarterly and the next proposed intake will be August 29, 2014. The organic specialist will work with OFCM and MOA to develop a proposal based on the updated sectoral Action Plan. Projects should increase sector competitiveness and may include (but not limited to) sector marketing strategies, research projects, adoption of best practices, risk management, sector productivity improvement strategies or trade advocacy and development projects.

ARDI: Kate reported that MOA would be receiving approximately $2000 of administrative funding for an organic soybean project in partnership with the University of Manitoba.

CURRENT SERVICE PROVISION

Prior to the facilitated session MOA, OFCM, OPAM and MAFRD were asked to complete a summary to outline their current mandate, programs or activities, resources they have developed or have available, who they serve, where current partnerships exist, and then finally to describe what initiatives they are currently working towards in each of the following priority areas (from the Manitoba Organic Sector Action Plan Final Report, March 28, 2013):

  • Market Development & Consumer Education

  • Regulatory

  • Knowledge Development & Sharing

  • Local Processing

The goal of this process was to fully understand and highlight what each organization was working on and provide participants with an opportunity to identify areas of overlap, streamline service delivery, future partnerships, etc…

Highlighted statements denote areas of focus

Manitoba Organic Alliance

Organic Producers of Manitoba

Organic Food Council of Manitoba

(chapter of Canadian Organic Growers)

Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

Mission/ Mandate

 

-Foster healthy, viable farms

-Work for a diversified organic production system in MB

-Promote interests of the organic sector, address issues and help to create growth

-Offer professional organic certification services to Canadian clients wishing to market products in Canada, USA & Europe

-Promote local, organic food through education & community building

-Accelerate greater prosperity & capacity of producers, industry, processors, entrepreneurs, communities (rural/North) & organizations

-Provide leadership, information, programs & services

 

Resources

(Directories/ fact sheets/ lesson plans, etc)

 

Contact list, website, promotional materials

Newsletter

MB Directories, handouts (displays), lesson plans (Growing Up Organic program), calendars, workshops – schools, daycares, MB Mentorship Program, conferences- Growing Local, Our Food, Our Health, Our Future

Organic Cost of Production, Buyers list, Service Providers/ marketing opportunities listings, monthly market price list, individual support, organic ingredient sourcing

Main Audience

 

Brings together all aspects of the organic movement (grain, forage, oilseeds, livestock, poultry, dairy, horticulture, processors, organic certification, organic inspectors, restaurant & food services, organic education, organic research, retail or associations, trade/ export)

Primarily Producers & Processors

-Those interested in growing & eating organically across Manitoba

Producers, Processors, Handlers, Buyers, Exporters, Distributors, Retailers, Certification Bodies, Consumers

Main partners

 

Federal & Provincial government

Representation within MOA, collaborate with other certifying bodies

MB Eco-network, Food Matters Manitoba, Harvest Moon Local Food Initiative, schools, daycare, promotion with Vita Heath, Nature’s Farm, Poplar Grove Farm, Organza Market, Sage Gardens, Good N Natural, Shelmerdine’s

 

(see above), including OFCM, MOA & Certification Bodies operating in MB

Manitoba Organic Sector Action Plan

 

Manitoba Organic Alliance

Organic Producers of Manitoba

Organic Food Council of Manitoba

Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

Market Development & Consumer Education

-Foster external communication with partner organizations

-Consumer Education not a focus

- Market Development

 

-Give referral information

-Events which marketers attend

-Consumer Education not a focus/ mandate

-Events, workshops & education evenings (organic week)

-Magazine

- Consumer Education

Work with organic sector associations (OFCM), retailers, bakeries, processors to educate the public

Regulatory

-Foster external communications with partner organizations

-Regulatory

-Certifying body

-Give information on regulations

-Representative on the CGSB Organic Technical committee (also convener on Permitted Substance List Working Group)

-Follow up on complaints (CFIA- seamless process)

-Educate retailers, bakeries, Farmers’ Markets about regulations

-internal (MAFRD) policy, procedures, enforcement mechanism development

-Inform/ educate policy makers together with OVCRT to minimize provincial differences (advocated for inclusion on agenda of upcoming Fed-Prov meeting)

 

Knowledge Development and Sharing

 

-Identify & support initiatives, research & resources strategic to the growth of the industry

-Newsletter

-Knowledge Development & Sharing

-Don’t pass information on directly to producers/ processors but will refer them

-Mentorship Program/ Growing Up Organic Program

-conferences, workshops & lectures

-Guest Lecturer

-Community requests/ inquiries

-Knowledge Development & Sharing

-MOA newsletter

-Networking & extension events (buyer-seller)

-Ensure organic presence @ Ag Days

-Webinars

-Public inquiries

-Interprovincial (AB/SK) programs

-Knowledge Development & Sharing

Local Processing

-Bring together stakeholders & members to discuss issues of mutual interest

-Regulatory body for processors

-Provide information or refer regarding regulations

-Nothing

-Work with organic processors to access government funding

-Develop plans, navigate barriers & undertake marketing activities

-Assist processors & FDC to source ingredients

-Help international and national buyers source MB grains

-Educate abattoirs on maintaining organic integrity

- Local Processing

 

Other

-Research & Development

-Our role is to bring industry participants together to identify needs & solutions & then to work together to achieve goals

 

-Answering questions

(e-mail, phone, website)

-Collect & synthesize stats

-Work with organic associations (capacity building, fundraising ability)

-Developing Prairie Organic Development Fund (voluntary check off)

-Educate colleagues about organics/ advocate for policies/ programs

-Develop communication pieces/ work with media

-Work with National Organic Value Chain Roundtable

-Conduct research/ survey (with FDC- nat’l Organic Science cluster)

-Resource for the interpretation of the Canadian Organic Standards

Note:

Resilient Solutions Consulting was hired to facilitate a session and draft the Manitoba Organic Sector ACTION PLAN final report (March 28, 2013). The comprehensive report was summarized by Laura Telford, with MAFRD into a document that was titled 2013 Organic Action Plan for Manitoba.

Participants in attendance identified that many board members from the various organic organizations may not be aware that these documents exist and as a result there was agreement that each organization would further discuss and share the listed documents within their organizations at future board meetings.

ACTION PLAN

MARKET DEVELOPMENT & CONSUMER EDUCATION

Consumer Education:

ACTION 1.Develop the organic market through consumer education

  • Link to Canadian Organic Sector Branding Campaign and customize elements to promote specific Manitoba organic products at retail, Farmers’ Markets, etc.

UPDATES:

  • During Organic Week 2013, OFCM partnered with Vita Health, Manitoba Harvest, Nature’s Farm, Tall Grass Prairie and MAFRD to produce 7,000 copies of an organic calendar profiling the national “Think” branding which were distributed during Organic Week at Vita Health and Tall Grass Prairie locations.

  • The same group also screened the film “Symphony of the Soil” in Winnipeg, Brandon and Steinbach during Organic Week.

  • MAFRD partnered with Vita Health to develop “Think Manitoba Organic” 4 x 6 postcards profiling 5 different Manitoba organic businesses. The cards were distributed in 7 stores during Organic Week.

  • Individual food processors and retailers ran some of their own Organic Week events and did some media outreach

NEXT STEPS (OFCM is the lead; Partner organizations are MOA/ MAFRD)

  • Expand Buy Manitoba to Buy Manitoba Organic (Laura/ consideration of MOA as a partner)

  • Continue to link promotional campaigns Canada Organic Branding materials (OFCM with MOA as a partner)

  • Work with COG national office to promote environmental benefits / website(s) (OFCM)

  • Include targeted at consumer education events in Growing Actions proposal (OFCM with MOA partner)

  • Continue to work with retailer and other partners to undertake activities during Organic Week (OFCM in partnership with MAFRD)

  • Engage consumers in activities that support the development of the organic market and the organic sector as a whole

  • Develop materials that explain the regulatory oversight system to consumers

  • Calendar every other year (TBD – OFCM)

** Timelines: within this fiscal year

Market Development: Distribution

ACTION 2. Develop and strengthen the distribution system for organic products

    • Develop food service and on-line distribution markets for Manitoba organic products

UPDATES:

  • Three local food distributors operate in Manitoba. World Wise has been gaining in reach, Harvest Moon has expanded into Brandon and Fresh Option Organic Delivery is still going strong. Crampton’s has developed a CSA program which includes organic ingredients and this is expanding each year. This year they are starting a major expansion that would include a winter CSA. GF2 programming will not fund distributors.

  • Work is needed to help organic livestock producers who want to direct market to improve their on-line presence and direct marketing efforts.

NEXT STEPS

  • Conduct feasibility study for online marketing portal (commodity by commodity - organic livestock site possibly)

  • Local Food Procurement program (OFCM with MAFRD)

    • Develop business to business sourcing guide – Sourcing Organic Ingredients in Manitoba to be used by participating institutions to find local organic food (GF2 project by OFCM, potentially include in Growing Actions proposal)

    • Need liaison to address:

      • Preventing organic from getting lost (local is the focus)

      • Assess where the program is at

      • Consistency of supply/ how much is needed and how often? (OFCM contract in GF2 proposal)

  • Find out about Local Food Hub (Wanda of OFCM will follow up with Food Matters Manitoba) – will contact Laura/ Janine – to give her info)

  • Talk to Peak of the Market about the lack of refrigerated storage in Wpg (MAFRD)

  • Provide pathfinding/ connections at the Direct Marketing Round Table (MOA)

  • Work with distributors to develop programs to develop transitional programs and producer training to grow the supply in lock step with the market for organic products( OFCM and COG have role in on-ramp)

    • Improve food safety training of small scale operators

    • Provide technical training for organic market gardeners to improve their production skills and efficiency

    • Host specialized farm club for market gardeners (OFCM)

REGULATORY (MOA is the lead with certifiers a partner and OFCM and OPAM partners in communication)

ACTION 3. Enact the Organic Agricultural Products Act in Manitoba

    • Promote the ACT to increase consumer clarity and confidence in Manitoba grown organic products

UPDATE:

  • The OAPA came into force on July 1, 2013

  • Since this time, MAFRD has been collaborating with CFIA and working on the enforcement piece, which includes developing protocols, naming inspectors under the Act and training them

  • In the year since the Act came into force, MAFRD has been taking an educational approach to enforcement. So far the department has undertaken formal on-site training to 3 Manitoba natural health retailers. Plans are in place to target Farmers’ Markets, restaurants and bakeries over the next few years

  • Nothing has been done to educate consumers about the regulatory framework. This will not happen until all of the enforcement pieces are in place. There are also plans to provide some training for MAFRD staff once the regulatory framework is in place

NEXT STEPS

  • Regulatory guide (COG/ OFCM)

  • Distribute and use information in regulatory guide (MOA and MAFRD for internal education)

  • Advocate (crop insurance), participate in MAFRD consultation, respond to emerging issues that have a regulatory angle related to organics (MOA, input from OPAM particularly related to MASC’s impact on producers)

  • Create a better mechanism to get input from producers regarding standards- possibly more formalized, comment form online, encourage producers to go to certifier first (MOA, OFCM)

  • Communicate to certified producers that they are automatically members of MOA (possible role of administrator)

  • Specialized quota (potatoes) (MAFRD- Laura)

  • Need more information about the various 3rd party Brand Names Lists that are out there such as the OMRI and the OFC lists (MOA)

  • Examine internal process regarding their own Brand Names list (OPAM)

  • Address confusion/ develop MB protocol as to which is the “go-to” list? (talk with certifiers, etc)

KNOWLEDGE DEVELOPMENT & SHARING

ACTION 4. Increase knowledge sharing for organic producers

  • Develop regional farm clubs as the focal point of peer-to-peer networks to share information and resources

  • Develop commodity specific clubs as need, for instance for horticultural growers/market gardeners

  • Partner with extension providers, university, etc. to increase available resources

UPDATES:

  • MAFRD hosted a pilot Organic Farm Club meeting in Souris in April.

  • Next steps include putting together a funding proposal (Growing Actions or Agri-Extension) to run 4 regional farm clubs (northwest, west, central, Interlake) plus a special horticulture/market gardener club in central Manitoba and pay for other extension events, possibly in collaboration with the University of Manitoba

NEXT STEPS

  • WED application with matching funds possibly from Growing Action, (MOA – co-applicant, OFCM partner – host an event, adopt a farm club)

  • MOTP - Education piece (MAFRD- Laura)

  • Link participation in Manitoba Organic Transition Fund to mandatory education. Eligible educational activities could include participating in webinars, conferences, workshops and farm clubs.

  • Share research needs (MOA)

  • Extension (MAFRD, MOA partner)

  • Conduct workshops (certification & paperwork) (lead: OFCM)

  • Annual Organic Crop Diagnostic School (MAFRD and U of M)

  • Broader knowledge sharing (farm advisors/ businesses/ financial service providers) (all – MAFRD, OPAM, MOA, OFCM)

LOCAL PROCESSING

ACTION 5. Develop access to local processing

  • Work with existing processors and abattoirs, particularly the proposed federal abattoir to discuss “attestation of compliance”

  • Conduct a feasibility study for poultry processing, including slaughter and further processing, and the possibility of combining with other livestock

UPDATES:

  • MAFRD and Gaston Boulanger met with Calvin Vaags of True North to discuss organic protocols. MAFRD has offered to provide training and support to acquire an “Attestation”. Since this time, Calvin has been in touch with other organic beef producers to get estimates of slaughter numbers.

  • An entrepreneur has come forward that is interested in pursuing an organic mobile slaughter facility for poultry. The Organic Specialist and the entrepreneur developed and made a presentation to the Food Safety Knowledge Centre. A number of actions came out of this meeting and the plan is to resolve all of these issues, develop a funding proposal, identify regional docking stations, purchase the facility and begin processing in the summer of 2015

  • There are now at least three different sources for organic poultry feed in the province

NEXT STEPS

  • Bring people together to identify need, spread the word, external communications (advocacy), celebrate successes (MOA)

SUCCESSFUL PARTNERSHIPS

Key factors to ensure success as the organic organizations strive to establish a foundation for growth, innovation, and productivity include creating a system based on trust which supports healthy communication and collaboration.

NEXT STEPS & FUTURE RECOMMENDATIONS:

Prior to this session, MOA completed an Organization Assessment with MAFRD, RLS staff. The organizational assessment was required to meet the Growing Visions & Actions program terms and conditions. This process identified MOA’s areas of strength and opportunities for growth within the organization. MOA reported this to be a valuable process; other organic organizations may want to call MAFRD, RLS Staff (Lavonne or Leanne) to discuss and consider this opportunity.

On behalf of MAFRD, we would like to congratulate MOA, OFCM, and OPAM for agreeing to participate in this session. We would encourage the organizations to:

  • Review and discuss the organic sector Action Plan and Action Planning Report (filling in the leads and timelines where applicable to your organization) with their respective boards

  • Move forward with the development and adoption of the memorandum of understanding (MOU)

  • Maintain clear areas of focus:

      • OPAM - regulatory

      • OFCM – consumer education (urban) and knowledge development /sharing

      • MOA – market development, knowledge development / sharing, research

  • Explore and define opportunities to collaborate (examples may include)

      • Shared staff – establish a job description, roles and responsibilities, reporting requirements, etc..

      • Communications - Website design, newsletter

  • Continue to communicate, partner, and strategize to move the organic industry forward

      • Consider hosting joint professional development or consumer education events

      • Consider arranging respective AGMs in conjunction with joint training opportunities

  • Consider requesting board development training from MAFRD, RLS staff. Examples may include, but are not limited to sessions on board roles & responsibilities, meeting management strategies, leadership development, etc..

  • Revisit the Action Planning document and update document regularly as goals are achieved