Queensland’s oldest organic processor and the nation’s leading producer of organic free-range chicken have expressed their frustration at the government’s “ill-informed” and “ridiculous” decision to abandon organic domestic regulation.
Quentin Kennedy, Managing Director of Kialla Pure Foods, addressed media and industry leaders today in response to Agriculture Minister Murray Watt’s recent comments that regulation would be “too big a burden” for some organic operators.
Speaking at a press conference held by leader of the Nationals, David Littleproud, at his property near Toowomba, Mr Kennedy said it was an ill-informed decision which would leave producers and consumers worse off.
“It’s very frustrating, particularly after it originally seemed like this government might be more supportive of the future of our industry,” Mr Kennedy said.
“It costs us so much more to export without a consistent national standard because we then need to get our products certified in the countries we ship to.
“Australia is an export-based nation, and agricultural exports are a big driver of our economy, so it just seems ridiculous that the government is making it much harder for producers to export.
“Without regulation, anyone can market themselves as ‘organic’ without actually following the same standards that certified producers do, which means consumers are being blindsided and left confused about what they’re buying when they pay for organic products.”
Kialla proudly displays its ACO Certification number 41 as a nod to its heritage – with ‘4’ denoting Queensland and ‘1’ reflecting the fact it was the first certified organic processor in the state.
The company was crowned Brand of the Year at the 2022 Australian Organic Industry Awards, hosted by peak industry body Australian Organic Limited (AOL).
Katrina Hobbs, Managing Director of Inglewood Farms, which produces premium-quality certified organic chicken, said a consistent standard is required across the industry.
“Consumers are looking for integrity and validation in the claims being made on packaging,” Ms Hobbs said.
“To have a Minister say they can’t see the value or benefit indicates a misunderstanding about what they’re meant to be overseeing in terms of securing a better future for Australians. It’s not just about business, it’s for the consumer both domestic and international.”
AOL Chief Executive Officer, Niki Ford, reaffirmed the importance of domestic regulation.
“Regulation is a common-sense solution that would be a win for producers seeking to export our great Australian produce to the world, and a win for consumers who want confidence that the food they buy is truly organic,” Ms Ford said.
“Australia can shift change its contribution to Australian agriculture and manufacturing while, at the same time, join the global organic producers playing a role in the future of sustainability.
“We appeal to Minister Watt to listen to the industry, consider Australia’s consumers and trade partners, and revisit this critical issue.”
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