AUSTRALIA’S organic food and fibre industry has a new, united voice, with eleven organisations coming together to form the Organic Industry Discussion Group
The new body’s purpose is to advance the interests of the sector, including the pursuit of domestic regulation.
Australia remains the only nation in the OECD without domestic regulation of its organic industry, meaning there is no legislated definition of the term ‘organic’.
While Australia has an export standard, it is not recognised by some trading partners meaning Australian producers must meet the additional certification costs of those countries.
Australia is the world leader in organic agriculture based on certified land area, with 5.645 million hectares under management – 54pc of the world’s certified organic land area.
The OIDG brings together all of Australia’s certification bodies and key industry groups in one forum. Members include:
- ACO Certification Ltd (ACO)
- Australian Organic Limited (AOL)
- Bio Dynamic Research Institute (BDRI)
- Certified Organic Biodynamic Western Australia (COBWA)
- National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia (NASAA)
- NASAA Certified Organic (NCO)
- Organic and Regenerative Investment Co-operative (ORICOOP)
- Organic Consumers Association Australia (OCAA)
- Organic Food Chain (OFC)
- Organic Industries of Australia (OIA)
- Southern Cross Certified (SXC)
Included in that list are five certifying bodies that operate in the red meat organic space – ACO Certification, Bio Dynamic Research Institute, NASAA Certified Organic, Organic Food Chain and Southern Cross Certified.
A high-level secretariat servicing the discussion group will be resourced by AOL, NASAA and OIA.
Australian Organic Ltd chair Mike Brown said formation of the new body came with the recognition that the industry is stronger together.
“We have committed people who are passionate about organics coming together as a collective to identify opportunities and pathways for the future – which is incredibly positive,” Mr Brown said.
“Our role is to bring organics to the forefront and show the benefits of how we farm because, without doubt, organic is the gold standard for sustainability.”
NASAA chair Tim Marshall, who has been working in organic certification and standards for almost four decades, said it was the most promising development in industry representation in years.
“It is really important to gather with a uniform voice for the important goal of domestic regulation and to give us the mechanism and structure to talk to federal and state governments,” Mr Marshall said.
Organic Industries of Australia chair, Dalene Wray, said domestic regulation would provide the impetus for negotiating equivalency arrangements, which would foster export growth and boost Australia’s economy.
“Certified Organic proteins, grains and vegetables are in high demand by consumers in international markets,” Ms Wray said.
“Growth in the export of these products from Australia will be achieved through regulatory improvements right here in Australia. The formation of this new group of stakeholders will provide a stronger voice to Government to encourage necessary improvements to regulations.”
The OIDG will hold its next meeting in Canberra in September ahead of the first meeting of the Parliamentary Friends of Australia’s Organic Industry.