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A needs assessment study of the non-chemical crop production industry.

Saskatchewan Agriculture Development and Diversification Secretariat, Regina, May.

Green, C.O. (1990)

Summary

Survey results

Results of a survey of 42 organic producers in Saskatchewan; personal interviews; both certified and transitional; no attempt to undertake detailed statistical analysis.

Estimate of Saskatchewan's organic land base (certified and in transition) at about 200,000 acres with 250-300 producers

Net returns are reported to be about the same or higher; green manure and forage frequently used to improve soils; insects and diseases not of particular concern; limited need for more information; marketing problems reported.

Why were farmers involved with organic? - The most common response was concern for environment; soils, water supplies; some reported problems with feeling sick for various reasons; feelings that they have lost control of their operations and are controlled by financial industry.

Production

- 22 of producers certified, 14 in transition

- transition period average of 6.8 years

- total of 34,152 acres in organic production; 932 acres on average/farm

Size Number of farms

0-400

15

500 - 999

10

1000 - 1999

8

2000 and over

4

Most producers are recent entrants, acreage ranges from 10-4800 acres; primary crops are wheat, oats, barley; few reported keeping animals.

Although many grew a variety of crops, 7 grew only wheat, or wheat and one other crop.

Yields were the same or slightly below conventional with net returns about the same; some indication that yields are higher than conventional in dry years.

Yield data are reported for a variety of crops, but there are no more than 11 observations for any crop; crops are those typically grown in western Canada: wheat, oats, barley, canola, rye, durum, lentils

Production constraints

24 reported weeds as the largest problem; other problems mentioned but none by a majority of producers; most common control strategies were harrowing; higher seeding rates, late seeding.

Most reported little or no insect problems.

Livestock - only 13 reported organic or near organic livestock; problems cited included: standards, source of replacement stock; supply of feed; organic control measures for animal diseases; lack of slaugtering facilities; beef stabilization program requirements that animals must be sold through the agency; problems with lack of facilities for processing organic milk.

Organic meat, poultry, eggs and milk are sold directly to consumers at the farm gate.

Marketing

Standard marketing problems cited, but a unique problem was explained with respect to the Canadian Wheat Board - organic producers obliged to sell to the CWB and then buy their grain back before they can market it.

Certification

primary certification groups -

Canadian Organic Producers Marketing Cooperative Limited, 1983 (COPMCL) 165 members in Manitoba, Sask and Alberta (135 in Sask); marketing and certification cooperative.

OCIA - about 150 certified in Sask in 1990.

Copyright 1990 Green, C.O.. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.


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