Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum have joined international dignitaries and an array of the country’s top certified organic producers for a historic event at Parliament House to mark the formation of the Parliamentary Friends of Australia’s Organic Industry (PFAOI)
Recognising the certified organic industry’s development into a major export earner and economic driver that contributes $851m directly into the domestic economy, the barbecue lunch featured a range of certified organic produce and hosted the newly formed Organic Development Group (ODG).
The ODG brings together all of Australia’s certification bodies and key industry groups into one forum and presents a united voice on issues such as the need for domestic regulation of the word “organic” for clarity to consumers.
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Murray Watt, addressed the event and acknowledged the organic industry’s position as a major contributor to Australia’s image abroad as a producer of clean, green and high-quality produce and products.
“This industry is a core part of our agriculture sector,” Minister Watt said.
“As a government we’ve been particularly keen to focus on how we can be supporting the organics sector with its export efforts.”
“I know there was a very productive meeting held earlier today between representatives of the organics industry with the relevant departments to talk through some of the new and emerging export opportunities that we’ve been able to negotiate for our good organic products as well.”
PFAOI Co-chair, Aaron Violi MP, said establishing the group was an important step in elevating the industry.
“I used to work in the industry selling organic food and I’ve seen firsthand how the industry has grown over the last few decades and it’s an amazing industry that has big potential,” Mr Violi said.
“It’s already delivering a lot and there are things we need to do in this house to make sure that we can allow it to continue to grow.”
Australian Organic Limited (AOL) hosted the function which was attended by more than 200 people including Minister for Trade and Tourism Don Farrell, Leader of the Nationals David Littleproud, MPs, Senators, the Swedish Ambassador, and representatives from the New Zealand High Commission, and the United States and French embassies.
AOL Chief Executive Officer, Niki Ford said it was timely recognition for producers.
“Today is an important day for us as an industry,” Ms Ford said.
“September is traditionally Australian Organic Awareness Month, so it is great for us to be talking about the real reason you should be choosing certified organic products.”
“Organic is regenerative, organic is sustainable and organic production systems positively contribute to climate resilience and biodiversity.”
“Every organic operator who is certified has to go through a rigorous audit to substantiate their claims which underpins the importance of looking for certification marks.”
“But without domestic regulation you can have as little as one ingredient and still claim organic on your packaging in Australia. Research has shown about one-third of consumers have reported being misled by deceptive packaging so truth in labelling is an important issue for our industry.”
ORICoop Director Greg Paynter reflected on the event
“Whilst aware of the political issues of being around 3% of the agriculture production in Australia, it was pleasing to see the government and its agencies willing to listen to the concerns we face, but also to understand the benefit we can proactively assist with in the wider agriculture sector, in addressing externalities, traceability, profitability and biodiversity conservation (noting the dedicated biodiversity set aside system of the organic standard requirements to 10% of the land area of Australia’s Nation Park estate). ORICoop directors were able to talk to attendees from Government members and Department’s and fellow industry members in various forums regarding supply chain constraints and market opportunities both in domestic and export environments. Good contacts were made that are likely to benefit across the organic industry.”
ORICoop Director, Sandra Fishwick added her inspiration
“It’s important to recognise the value of Organic, green, clean soil and high quality foods while nurturing your health and building a future beyond the present”.
ORICoop Director, Carolyn Suggate outlined the following after the day.
“‘The future of our farming and environmental systems depends on the world transitioning to a better version of agriculture. The organic sector can provide much of this knowledge and demonstrates the increasing appetite from consumers for more integrity, provenance and trust in the food they desire. ORICoop is at the forefront of growing these markets and increasing the opportunity for organic growers across Australia. We are excited at the support shown by the Government and their interest to further the pathway for domestic regulation and integrity in the Nationally accredited organic standard. Not a moment too soon!”
Organic Development Group
The 11-member ODG, which includes all of Australia’s certification bodies and major industry groups provides a united voice to pursue domestic regulation of the word ‘organic’.
Organic Producer and Organic Industries Australia Director, Ian James, said it’s essential for the thousands of businesses that have gone through the process of certification.
“The whole industry is built around verification and certification of the organic claim, and this must be enforceable,” Mr James said.
“We have come together to create the ODG with the realisation that the only way forward for the organic industry to achieve domestic regulation is with the unity of one voice. Our future growth and prosperity are what is at stake.”
National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia General Manager, Alex Mitchell said it showed a maturing of the organic sector.
“This is an unprecedented commitment of the whole of industry in participating in not only the approach to policy development, but also in advocacy, such as the show of force at the event today,” Ms Mitchell said.
“It’s also critical to acknowledge the importance of bringing all the industry bodies together to listen to government so everyone can develop a common language for industry advancement.”
The ODG includes:
- 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)