Organic Growers of Australia (OGA) started as the Northern Rivers Herb Growers Association in 1987 in the Northern Rivers region of NSW when a small group of enthusiastic farmers came together to discuss herb growing at a time when it was practically non-existent in Australia. With a growing interest in organic production, name changes and the program steadily evolving, OGA quickly developed into a body which audited not only herb growers, but farmers and processors Australia-wide. In 2006, the OGA certification program merged with the Australian Organic Limited Group (formerly BFA). Since 1 July, 2007, Australian Organic Limited has offered OGA certification as a dedicated program servicing smaller, domestic only, producers.
The OGA program has played a very important role in Australia by providing small producers access to a low-cost certification service and we recognize that our small producers, have been dedicated and committed to providing consumers with confidence about the honesty and integrity of the products they sell and welcomed scrutiny of their claims by a highly-reputable certification organisation. The program itself has not changed or adapted for many years, however, with the rapid expansion of the certified organic industry, we want to ensure we are providing all our clients with the best possible certification program.
On 24 September, 2015, a letter was circulated to all OGA clients requesting feedback on improving the OGA program. Thank you to all who provided feedback.
After considerable discussion and exhausting all avenues, the review has been finalised and the results determined. The review determined three major flaws associated with the OGA program:
- The OGA program does not conform with the National Standard as physical audits are not conducted each year;
- The OGA domestic only program provides significant risk to the export supply chain; and
- The ongoing costs associated with the OGA program are unsustainable.
Due to the limitations of the OGA program, it is no longer viable to continue with the OGA small producer program after 30 June, 2018. In order to allow the opportunity to make changes to business plans, we are providing significant notification of closure of the program, as well as options available to our valued OGA clients to ensure their best interests are maintained.
We encourage all our our small producers to contact Janine Heinemann on (07) 3350 5706 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org, as she has been entrusted to assist with the cessation of the program and to provide any support you may require at this time, including transitioning to the ACO certification program.