Australia’s organic operators have welcomed support from the halls of Canberra with the formation of a Federal Parliamentary Friendship Group for organics.
Established by Liberal Party Member for Casey, Aaron Violi, and Labor Member for Hunter, Dan Repacholi, the Parliamentary Friends of Australia’s Organic Industry will provide a forum for members of the industry to meet with MPs and Senators to display their produce and discuss key opportunities and challenges they face.
Chairman of Australian Organic Limited (AOL), Mike Brown, said the Group would help foster meaningful connections between producers and the country’s decision makers.
“That face-to-face connection is so important in increasing understanding,” Mr Brown said.
“It’s a great chance for the hard-working farmers and processors to showcase our fantastic industry and raise concerns in a constructive way.
“We represent a broad spectrum of the Australian agricultural sector, which is vital in feeding the nation and helping protect our environment.
“Niki Ford (AOL CEO) and I met with Mr Violi and Mr Repacholi about increasing channels of communication to parliament, so it’s great to see that come to fruition.”
Having worked in the organic industry before entering politics, Mr Violi saw its challenges and opportunities firsthand.
“Organics is an important industry which contributes over $2 billion annually to the national economy,” he said.
“We’re looking to meet with industry members from right across the supply chain – from paddock to plate – to hear firsthand the issues and challenges.
“The producers are facing uncertainty with a lack of a National Organic Standard in Australia, which impacts consumer confidence. If we are to continue current industry success, consumers need to have confidence that when they buy organic, they get organic.
“This group will give Australian producers a platform to voice concerns to both sides of parliament and set the groundwork as we work towards strengthening this vital industry.”
Mr Repacholi said after meeting with AOL representatives he was keen to learn more about the organic industry and the role it plays in the local economy.
“As a Group we hope to hear from voices within the industry and the issues important to them,” he said.
“From my meetings with stakeholders, concerns have been raised around how organics is regulated, misleading organic claims undermining the integrity of the sector, and concern from some exporters that Australia’s lack of domestic regulation is limiting market access.
“Cross-party membership in this Group is very important. We are in Parliament to try to make a difference for our communities and most of the time we agree on issues, so it’s important that where possible we are working together to resolve some of the issues the organic sector is facing.”
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