NEWSLETTER — JUNE 2021
Representing all certified organic operators
In this issue
Domestic regulation update
Back in December, the Australian Government established an Organic Industry Advisory Group to consider whether Australia’s current domestic organic regulatory system is fit for purpose to facilitate industry development. The Government notice and list of members is available here.
Our Chair, Dalene Wray, has been representing the interests of all certified organic operators on this advisory group. The group was expected to have finalised its report in March, but that timeframe has been extended. Its not expected that the report will be publicly released.
OIA is preparing a workshop for the the Organic Industry Forum (formerly the Australian Organic Industry Working Group) to consider the issues arising out of this work. We can't discuss the specific outcomes in the report, but we can discuss the issues and the next steps our industry should take. Workshop details will be provided once arrangements are settled.
In the meantime, send an email to email@example.com to be added to the Organic Industry Forum distribution list or to update your email.
OIA sponsors best organic and biodynamic wines award
OIA Ltd was proud to sponsor the Best Wine in Show Award for Winestate Magazine. The magazine has a feature in its July edition on the best organic and biodynamic wines of the year.
The OIA award went to Gemtree Wines Obsidian McLaren Flat Shiraz 2019, certified by ACO and rated 98 points. Gemtree Wines say they are biodynamic farmers because they know it is better for the soil, vineyards, employees and the flavour of the fruit. Congratulations Gemtree Wines on winning the top gong!
An honourable mention goes to one of our Foundation Members, Stormflower Vineyard, which was judged second best overall with their Single Vineyard Margaret River Wilyabrup Chardonnay 2020, certified by SXC and also rated 98 points.
Country Hour Interview
Our Chair, Dalene Wray, was recently interviewed by the ABC's Queensland Country Hour about the prospects for organic beef from the UK trade agreement.
Dalene also talks about the opportunities for all organic exports and the difficulties of exporting in a Covid world.
Become a member of your national peak body
Become a member of the independent peak body which represents the interests of all certified organic operators in government forums and industry initiatives.
There are two types of membership—Full Membership for certified organic operators and Associate Membership for others. Membership is only $10.
Foundation Memberships are also available for a limited time for only $250.
Now Foundation members can also have their own advertisement page on our Marketplace.
WA Organics Industry: Opportunities, Challenges and Options
The WA Department of Primary Industry and Regional Development has commissioned a report on the WA organics industry.
The project recognises that organic producers in WA face significant disadvantages in comparison with conventional producers in the State, but also in comparison with organic producers in other States.
The project involves significant consultation with industry.
More information is available at https://policypartners.com.au/WAorganics
Women in agriculture - Simone Tully
Simone Tully features in a Westpac magazine feature on Women in Agriculture.
Simone is one of our organic industry leaders. She has been a pioneer in organic beef, establishing two of our largest organic beef operators—Australian Organic Meats and OBE Organic. She also mentors organic start-ups, helped Woolworths establish its Macro organics range by building the brand’s network with organic suppliers, and has been a key player in the Australian Organic Industry Working Group, helping to establish OIA Ltd as the industry peak body.
She is currently on a regional working group investigating the establishment of an Oceania chapter of IFOAM, and is the Chair for a bid supported by OIA Ltd for Oceania to host the Organic World Congress 2024 in Brisbane (there is a related article on the bid below).
Simone is now seeking a greater global leadership role. OIA Ltd has endorsed Simone to become a director of IFOAM. You can help Simone get elected, by your organic organisation becoming a member of IFOAM and voting for her at this year's virtual Organic World Congress in September.
Letter to OISCC on the need for reform
OIA Ltd has written to the Organic Industry Standards and Certification Council (OISCC) to raise concerns that reforms to its systems and processes are required to address potential conflicts of interest, to improve transparency, and to increase stakeholder engagement in order to best serve Australia’s organic Industry.
We first raised these issues with OISCC in 2019, and our Board is most concerned to see these issues addressed by OISCC.
You can read our letter here.
Join the global organic movement at the #OWC2021
Registration for the Organic World Congress 2021 has now opened!
The World Congress will be hosted virtually in September. Some 2,500+ organic stakeholders, farmers, researchers and policymakers will address questions around resilience, societal transformation, health, and food sovereignty during the world’s largest organic gathering. To date, some 600 speakers have been selected from 800+ contributions.
The World Congress will be followed by the General Assembly of IFOAM on 13-14 September.
For further information or to sign up to the mailing list, visit the World Congress website.
World Congress Bid 2024
OIA Ltd is supporting an Oceania bid to host the Organic World Congress 2024 in Brisbane.
Through hosting the World Organic Congress in our region, we can create a catalyst for increased international consolidation and organic collaboration. This is yet another reason to join IFOAM - so your organic organisation can vote for our Oceania bid at this year's virtual Organic World Congress in September!
For further information contact the Chair of the bid committee Simon Tully at chair@IFOAMbidforBrisbane2024.com.au.
Organic consumers newsletter
- Participatory Guarantee Schemes
- Food Next Door, matching under-utilised farmland with landless farmers
- OISCC loses confidence of OCAA
- Why do we have two organic standards?
- Book review: Sustainable Agriculture versus Corporate Greed
ROFO Riverina workshops
Riverina Organic Farmers Organisation (ROFO) is iniviting members and local organic producers (or those interested in becoming organic) to a day of diverse conversations in the Riverina on Thursday 24th June.
- Co-op fundamentals and a Riverina Organic Producers' Co-op. Workshop 1 starts at 9.00 am. Register here.
- Co-op Fundamentals & a Riverina Organic Producers' Water Co-op. Workshop 2 starts at 1.00 pm. Register here.
- Organic certification for new & existing operators. Workshop 3 also starts at 1.00 pm. Register here.
Registration is required for each person attending each of the workshops, to meet Covid spacing requirements and for catering purposes. There is no charge for attendance, including lunch.
Any questions about the day or workshops to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to ROFO, Coop Farming and SXC for their funding support for this event.
Natural & Organic Asia
Natural & Organic Asia will be held from 7 – 9 September 2021, both online and physically.
The expo will provide a platform for suppliers to meet buyers for natural and organic products ranging from food, supplements, beauty products to lifestyle products. The physical event will be held in Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre while international suppliers and buyers can participate in the online business matchmaking for real-time meetings.
OIA members are entitled to special deal:
- a straight 10% discount on the marked price
- a free add-on to participate at the July edition of HOFEX Connect - the virtual event to meet potential buyers in Asia (worth US$800)
Contact the organiser to learn more here.
Public consultation—Seasonal workers
On 10 June, the Australian Government announced a six week consultation process on the future arrangements for Australia’s Pacific labour mobility initiatives, the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) and the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS). A copy of the media release can be found here.
These programs support Australian businesses to address unmet labour demand while providing employment opportunities for Pacific and Timorese workers.
Recent events, including the COVID-19 pandemic, have brought into sharp focus workforce shortages in critical sectors, including agriculture, and highlighted the importance of Pacific labour. COVID-19 pandemic related border closures have caused significant disruption to Australian labour markets and to Pacific labour mobility. Despite higher Australian unemployment during the pandemic, demand for Pacific labour continued to grow, particularly in agriculture. This is due in part to the decrease in the number of Working Holiday Makers in Australia. Some of the COVID-related disruption to labour markets are likely to be temporary, some changes may become longer-term.
The consultation aims to gather views on ways to improve, streamline and align the two programs to maximise benefits for employers, workers, and participating countries. Interested stakeholders can provide their views directly via the consultation website.
Note that OIA Ltd has previously written to the Government on the related issue of voluntary work on certified organic farms. A copy of our letter is here.
Australian Biosecurity Awards 2021
Across the country, Australians are safeguarding the nation from pests and diseases. Each year, the Government presents the Australian Biosecurity Awards. The awards recognise the efforts of our wide range of stakeholders contributing to protect Australia's biosecurity system, with 8 award categories.
See the website for details on how to nominate someone for the awards. Nominations close on 30 July 2021.
Farm insurance survey
ORIcoop is conducting a survey of organic farmers to understand the level of protection that organic and biodynamic farmers have to rely on.
There have been situations where organic and biodynamic farming operations have been exposed to risks of pollution and contamination to their properties through the operations of neighbouring properties. This can have catastrophic consequences in the form of loss of licencing, financial loss, litigation and damage to reputation. Typical farm insurance products do little to protect organic and biodynamic farming operations from these risks and the ORICoop Board are concerned about the situation.
You can participate in the survey using this link.
Concerns about the US National Organic Standards
A group of 40 US National Organic Standards Board members who served on the Board from 1992 to the present wrote a letter expressing their concern that the integrity of the US National Organic Standards has significantly eroded over the years.
Read the letter on The Cornucopia Institute website.
WWOOF celebrates 40 years on the road with hosts
For the past 40 years, WWOOF has been connecting WWOOFers (Volunteers) with Hosts from many different commercial or hobby farms and suburban growers that are using Organic, Biodynamic, Permaculture, Aquaponics, Syntropic and Regenerative practices & techniques.
Our hosts certainly embrace those extra set of hands when it comes to planting, harvesting, animal care and everyday tasks that come with living and producing off the land. In return, hosts can pass on their skills and knowledge to WWOOFers in the industry they are in.
And with technology forever evolving, it has enabled Hosts and WWOOFers to instantly interact and connect through our messaging system on the WWOOF website and the free WWOOF Australia app.
To celebrate our 40 years, we hit the road and visited some of our Hosts in South Gippsland Victoria. And you can also celebrate with 40% off all memberships using the code WWOOFis40 until the end of June. See the WWOOF website for more details.
NZ progresses on better organic regulations
New Zealand's Ministry for Primary Industries has released its proposals for better legislation and regulation of organic businesses in the primary sector. The proposals cover:
- requiring an organic management plan that demonstrates how the business will meet the organic standard
- having that plan evaluated and the business’ operation verified
- applying for approval
- having business operations undergo verification on an ongoing basis to ensure they remain compliant
- including requirements for importers and exporters
- competency, accreditation and skills requirements that third-party verifiers must have in order to apply for these roles
- developing a national organic standard
The proposals are available on the Ministry's website.