CFN – Organic Council of Ontario (OCO) board member Tom Manley called for continued diploma education programs, organic dairy research, and rural waste water management research at Alfred Ontario in Eastern Ontario.
Mr. Manley, owner of Homestead Organics in Eastern Ontario, is also the President of the Alfred College Community Advisory Council. He attended the Alfred College press conference earlier this week and the presentation to the students. The Colleges at Alfred and Kemptville are campuses of the Ontario Agricultural College of the University of Guelph. The University recently announced the closing of the two campuses with the consolidation of programs and research in Guelph.
“Although I feel the loss on behalf of Kemptville College, I am happy to say that a solution is found for Alfred College”, said Mr Manley. “Collège Boréal in Sudbury and La Cité Collégiale in Ottawa, Ontario’s two francophone colleges, accepted to take over the three educational diplomas at Alfred College. They will be sending out acceptance letters to applicants shortly for the new enrollment this fall.”
“However, there is a critical issue for organic agriculture” explained Mr Manley. “Alfred College hosts the only certified organic dairy research and teaching farm in North America, and it operates in French. It also hosts a rural waste water management research facility. Several organic dairy and field crop research projects were recently awarded to Alfred College through the Organic Science Cluster”.
The announcement from Guelph also means the closing of this organic dairy research farm in Alfred. Mr. Manley voiced the organic agri-food sector’s support for continued operation of this critical organic research program in dairy.
The potential loss of this program comes at a time when organic is the fastest growing segment of agri-food. At $1B in Ontario sales, and with Canada the fourth largest organic market in the world (COTA 2014), organic represents a profitable and sustainable option for Canada’s family farms.
Organic production and profitability is extremely dependant on research, education, and knowledge transfer, and Ontario has the only organic research dairy herd to perform this vital function.
“To maintain the organic dairy research and education, the academic transfer from U of Guelph to Collège Boréal and La Cité Collégiale must also include a transfer of the research activities and the dairy quota provided by the Dairy Farmers of Ontario”, concludes Tom Manley.
At its Annual General Meeting in one week, the Organic Council of Ontario will seek a unanimous resolution of support from its members to maintain Alfred College’s organic dairy research and teaching capacity.