We are writing to you as constituents, businesses and producers that are involved in the organic industry across Australia. We ask you to support the future of our country’s clean and green reputation, and the urgency in preserving our ecosystems and local food security. The organic industry provides a model for the rest of agriculture, that is localised, transparent and without the additional dependency or high externality costs of conventional agriculture. Our industry needs your support – and we look forward to adding your voice to our charter.
For too long Organics had been thought of as a niche market or component of Agriculture, but if one takes a world view instead of looking at the microcosm of Australia, we have entities such as the EU wanting to transition 25% of their Agriculture to Organics by 2030 via The Green Deal and Farm to Fork initiatives
Organic and regenerative farming systems can:
provide a neutral or positive environmental impact with added benefit of providing co-benefits to the environment and humanity
help to mitigate climate change and adapt to its impacts that are already proven by scientific publications
reverse the loss of biodiversity via organic standard provisions and verified by academia indicating 30% more biodiversity on organic farms
ensure food security, nutrition and public health, making sure that everyone has access to sufficient, safe, nutritious, sustainable food production systems that have been vetted by good science.
preserve affordability of food while generating fairer economic returns, fostering competitiveness of the international supply sector and promoting fair trade
In so doing Organics addresses triple bottom line objectives including:- – Organic Farming enables and accelerates the transition to a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system. Government investment is required to address deficiencies in advisory services, financial instrumentsand more importantly participatory research and farmer led innovation are needed instrumentally as they can help resolve tensions, develop and test solutions, overcome barriers and uncover new market opportunities.
Value of the organic sector in Australia $3.65B(AU) and worldwide over $88B(AU)
Urgency of climate change and the direct impact on agriculture sector
Importance of biodiversity value and enhancement on private land
Synergy across different sectors including energy, agriculture, health
Rewarding land stewardship through ecosystem management outcomes
Pioneering industry and independent of Government (historically)
Established Net-Zero pathway for agriculture and business to transition
Key Requests from the Organic & Biodynamic Industry to the Federal Government:-
Rewarding producers for their ecological stewardship together with a simple mechanism to ascertain and transition carbon footprint beyond Net-Zero in agriculture and business
Ascertaining a biodiversity value on farmland and conversation area (private & public land)
State recognised Government bodies that support the growth of organic agriculture
Facilitate a Sensitive Site register provided by State Governments as part of ‘right to farm’
Endorse a roadmap in climate resilience, adaptation and long term business resilience planning for regional communities & local economies.
Invest in Research & Development for key biological outcomes across the agriculture sector
Provide regular and rigorous data capture through ABARES with tailored organic data for on-farm production, business, supply and export.
The time is now….
Agriculture in Australia is at a crossroads. Producers are attempting to increase their yields with reducing on-farm profitability while managing higher climate risk exposure than ever before. We need to capture premium markets (like organics) and empower producers with better business profitability and diversified income streams. Our Country needs best in class producers that are resilient against natural disasters and rewarded with better crops, profitable and diversified businesses, healthier and improved natural ecosystems. We need to review the existing farming model that reflects a more sustainable and resilient farming infrastructure that invests in the next generation of producers, better markets with full consideration of the impact on the environment.
True cost of ecosystem services in our waterways, agricultural land, biodiversity and food production should be clearly understood and be a driver of change
Research and Education on the importance of carbon reduction, repurpose and offset to underpin regional resilience and transition agriculture beyond net-zero
Opportunity to strengthen cross sector links between health, education, agriculture & economics
Structures that underpin the food security of our country ahead of dependency on large scale, low value commodity markets that may be affected by external pressures
With recent questions over the legitimacy of the Australian carbon offset scheme, it’s never been more important that carbon emissions are offset with legitimate credits and are free of greenwashing.
Unfortunately, few offerings in the market consider the natural environmental variables faced by the landowners generating the credits, and have the data transparency and accuracy required to inspire confidence that the investment is actually achieving its drawdown goal.
The farmer-owned credits are backed by extensive data collection and have been developed in accordance with the conditions, biodiversity and operations of each farm they’re provided by. Their transparency of data and the ability to directly purchase Eco-Credits from each farm means investors avoid the greenwashing associated with other carbon credit offerings.
ORICoop EO Carolyn Suggate said ‘All farms are assessed as to their suitability for the program, based on their existing farming practices, the area of the farm and the intentions of future management.’
“We don’t want producers to be at risk from any carbon credit program, to overstate their carbon drawdown, or to be exposed by a natural disaster or severe weather event should the carbon levels in their soil or biodiversity decrease,” Ms Suggate said.
These limits are a key part of the design- providing investor security, and lessening the risk of overstating any values, especially following farming challenges or natural disasters that can negatively impact soil carbon improvement efforts such as the extensive flooding occurring throughout NSW and QLD recently.
“Through a collective of the credits, ORICoop’s specialist advisory committee oversees each of the credit applications and validation reports. This includes assessing the management practices, the land management zones, the footprint of the farm business plus the soil testing and results. For each project we determine suitable buffers that enable producers to bank a portion of their credits – the credits are validated annually, and depending on buffer limits, a portion is liquidated at the producer’s discretion,” Ms Suggate said.
Each Eco-Credit represents 1 tonne of CO2 drawdown, in addition the credits represent measures each local organic producer has undertaken to actively improve soil carbon, water efficiency and biodiversity within their properties and farming practices.
Michael Coleman, Managing Director of Box Forest Consulting, said the costly setup and operating design of the ACCU market may be resulting in poor outcomes for both producers and investors.
“If it turns out that ACCU projects are not delivering contracted reductions, despite high costs of participation, that’s the worst of both worlds. Hopefully the regulator will improve market integrity, and not just by adding more layers of consultant reports,” Mr Coleman said.
“A simpler, more transparent certification process, with low verification costs, can also offer greater integrity. Certification gets done and reported in a way all users understand and accept. Voluntary Carbon Markets (VCM) should be designed with that in mind, which is what ORICoop has set out to achieve.”
Iain Smale, of Pangolin & Associates, said the Eco Credit will be popular for investors by providing other options for carbon credits which also offer a local impact, which is especially important given per-capita carbon emissions in Australia are amongst some of the highest in the world.
“With the Eco-Credit, you’re having a bigger environmental impact than just a carbon credit,” he said.
The environmental impact of our producer operations is key for Australian-owned organic dairy processor & manufacturer Paris Creek Farms. Paris Creek Farms’ Marketing & Communications Manager Alex Donovan said they are committed to increasing the sustainability of their operations, actively working with their producers to achieve this with Eco-Credits initially playing a vital part.
“With bio-dynamic and organic practices, we’re already using one of the most sustainable and regenerative methods of farming in the world, but we are striving to be even more sustainable. Our ultimate goal is to have our farmers generating their own Eco-Credits,” Ms Donovan said.
Ms Suggate said there are many ways the agriculture sector is transitioning beyond net-zero, and that collaboration to improve trust, legitimacy and the urgency for improving how sustainably we produce food is vital, especially after considering the ‘business as usual’ impact on the environment and the urgency of our changing climate as seen recently by some of the worst floods in history.
“We need science to be well funded to enable technology to be more accessible and trusted across the industry. This includes the measurement capability, satellite data, plus legitimate footprint data for farms across all commodities,” Ms Suggate said.
“In the meantime, our organic farming ORICoop members are dedicated to measuring and validating their soil tests and farm footprint. As their credits are validated, these producers form part of the organic farming ecosystem that invests into best practice, research and sustainability programs through a legitimate farmer-led carbon credit based on international guidelines,” she said.
“That includes soil carbon and biodiversity, rewarding producers for sustainable land stewardship practices, while offering these credits to businesses looking to offset their carbon footprint with legitimate credits that are traceable back to each farm that has generated them.”
If your business is committed to achieving net-zero, offset your carbon emissions directly with credits you can trust – register here now.
400 Acres has been certified organic for more than 15 years supplying Organic Dairy Farmers of Australia. Irrigating more than 400 acres in North East Victoria, Doug Fehring of 400 Acres runs an organic dairy operation which shares some of its acreage with a pair of young brothers running a free-range egg enterprise. The painted ‘wheeled henhouse’ engages the principles of sustainability by travelling in the wake of a grazing organic dairy herd. Each day the chooks feast on the grubs growing in the cow pats, scratching the soil and spreading their own brand of goodness on the pasture as they go.
Starting out as conventional farmers, the Fehring’s had developed a “more on” mentality until more on didn’t work any more! This drove the quest to find out more about soil biology and ecology, which led to the discovery of how biological farming could improve both soil health and the overall health of the farming ecosystem. Experimentation with organic agricultural techniques finally led to organic certification.
The Fehring’s have employed a young girl that loves cows and is enthusiastically learning how to work in conjunction with nature rather than trying to control nature across the four seasons. Under the Fehring’s guidance, this young farmhand is learning how to be proactive and resilient, circumventing potential future issues through good ecological management in the present.
Why Organic? 400 Acres joined the Organic Dairy Farmers Cooperative while it was still in its infancy nearly 15 years ago. “Since joining we have continually received a premium over and above conventional milk price and have never had a step down in price.” “I like the concept of a ORICoop and can see that there is a need for a better connection between the end user of organic products and the producers of the products.”
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