In a fundamental step towards reducing red tape within the valuable Australian organic sector, Federal Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud has requested the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment appoint an Organics Industry Advisory Group to investigate the creation of a nationwide regulatory framework for the production and sale of organic products.
The group, announced by Minister Littleproud today, will review whether the current domestic regulatory framework is fit for purpose and to better understand the potential of improving current regulations to facilitate the development and growth of the organic industry.
Australian Organic Limited (AOL) Chief Executive Officer, Niki Ford, said there were opportunities that regulatory improvements could offer the industry, such as a mandatory domestic standard, which would bring Australia in line with the rest of the world and deliver much-needed efficiency and certainty to organic producers.
“Australia has a $2.6 billion organic industry yet is one of the only developed nations in the world not to have a domestic standard for the use of the word ‘organic’, placing us well out of step with our international competitors,” Ms Ford said.
“With no mandatory standard currently in place, industry is being compromised given the lack of consistency for producers. This also leaves exporters in a frustrating and expensive position where they must pay separate fees to meet specific regulations in each individual customer country.
“Our organic producers are world-leaders in terms of quality and innovative production systems, and this change stands to not only simplify processes, reduce red tape and strengthen market access but to also provide consumers with greater confidence when choosing to buy organically-labelled products.”
The National Standard for Organic and Bio-Dynamic Produce was first written in 1992 but has never been enforced domestically, and it remains unclear as to why it has not been implemented since that time.
As the peak industry body for the nation’s organic producers, Australian Organic took hold of the issue 18 months ago and has been working hard, often behind the scenes, to progress this critical concern with government officials and key stakeholders.
“We are incredibly grateful that the Department of Agriculture has committed to reviewing this unusual and limiting situation, and we are confident we can work with government and the broader industry to secure a singular standard once and for all,” Ms Ford said.
National Farmers’ Federation Chief Executive Officer, Tony Mahar, said regulatory efficiency is critical to helping agriculture to achieve its goal of a $100 billion industry by 2030.
“To achieve this goal, the sector must target opportunities which provide a boost to an industry recovering from drought, fires and flood, as well as the impacts of COVID-19. The NFF’s Get Australia Growing report identifies consistent regulation for organic farming as one of these opportunities,” Mr Mahar said.
“Australia’s current approach to organic production limits our market access for Australian organic producers, affects consumer confidence and increases the economic burden on industry.
“It is a big step forward to have the Commonwealth working with industry to help improve the regulatory framework for organic production in Australia. Australian Organic Limited’s efforts in advocacy have been essential to achieving momentum in the organic sector.”
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More about Australian Organic Limited (AOL)
Australian Organic Limited (AOL) is the leading peak industry body engaging with government and industry to promote the commercial and social interests of those who are certified and protect the integrity of the certified industry against fraud and misleading organics. AOL has been at the foundation of organics since 1987 and is identified by the most recognised mark in Australia, the Australian Certified Organic Bud trademark. This trademark signals the highest of integrity and is recognised by more than 50 per cent of Australian consumers.