Farmers support need for organic regulations

The National Farmers’ Federation has called upon the government to address the Australian organic industry’s need for urgent domestic regulation as one of its key requests to “cut red tape from agricultural businesses”.

The NFF unveiled its strategy document Get Australia Growing at the National Press Club yesterday outlining 11 priorities for agricultural reform in order to get the economy back on track.

It was highlighted that Australia’s need for consistent regulation for organic farming was imperative given that Australia is the last developed nation in the world to have a collaborative approach to organic production.

The report outlines that the current inconsistent approach limits market access for Australian organic producers, affects consumer confidence and increases the economic burden on industry. It strongly recommends the government progress domestic regulation as part of the Australian farming sector’s goal to reach $100 billion in farm gate output by 2030.

Other key recommendations included simplifying the industrial relations system, create a strong future for agrifood and fibre manufacturing, and making drought freight exemptions permanent.

Niki Ford, CEO of Australian Organic Ltd, the nation’s peak body for the organic industry, said the NFF’s recommendation is a major step forward for the organic industry.

“Our push to mandate domestic regulation over the past 18 months has been supported by Minister Littleproud and the NFF, providing an open dialogue that for the first time in 27 years this issue can now be properly addressed,” said Ms Ford. “The National Standard for Organic and Bio-Dynamic Produce was originally written with the intention to be enforced domestically when it was announced back in 1992, but due to unknown reasons this never occurred.

“Having the support of the NFF is enormously important to progressing the discussion. Through our ongoing collaborations with government and key industry stakeholders, we are confident that we will reach an outcome that is beneficial to the Australian economy and the Australian Organic Industry.”

Ford said the lack of regulation around the word organic has been enormously limiting for industry. “It has allowed misleading organic products to enter the domestic market. Additionally, the current overseas certification process which forces organic exporters to pay separate fees to different countries is costing the organic industry enormously every year. If we could mandate domestic regulation, it would enable our industry to thrive exponentially and provide growth for Australian agriculture.”

The Australian Organic industry is currently worth $2.6 billion, growing year on year. In 2018 domestic sales grew 15 per cent vs the previous year whilst export tonnage was up 13 per cent over the same period. According to the Australian Organic Market Report 2019, 6 out of 10 shoppers purchased organic product in the past 12 months, 55 per cent of shoppers would choose an organic product with a certification mark in a like for like purchase, and 51 per cent recognise the Bud logo as the mark of Australian Certified Organic.