Organic farmers call for regulation
Victoria’s largest organic producer, Wattle Organic Farms, is echoing the industry’s cry for the federal government to create a domestic regulation for the organic sector.
Nathan Free and his parents Kelvin and Deanne (pictured at top) grow pumpkin, broccoli and stone fruit across 130 hectares of certified organic land at Lake Boga near Swan Hill to supply contracts with Coles and Woolworths. They believe Australian consumers are being let down by the lack of a national standard for use of the word “organic” in labelling.
Nathan says he’s aware of produce reaching markets that is falsely labelled organic.
“For our industry to be fully respected by consumers, we need the correct framework in place so buyers have the guarantee they’re purchasing a genuine organic product,” he says.
“Domestic regulation will hold the entire industry to the same standard and bring all producers into line under the same transparent practices our customers deserve.”
Currently, Australia is lagging behind global markets as one of the only developed nations without its own domestic standard, but steps are being taken to address this issue.
In December 2020, Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud requested that the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment appoint an Organics Industry Advisory Group, which will investigate the potential to improve current regulations and provide recommendations for ensuring the regulatory framework is fit for purpose.
CEO of peak industry body Australian Organic Limited Niki Ford, who is part of the advisory group, describes the lack of regulation as being “like a handbrake” on industry growth.
“The Australian organic sector currently contributes more than $2 billion to the national economy and is poised for annual growth of 14.6 percent,” she says.
“It’s absolutely vital every Australian investing in organic goods has peace of mind that the product is exactly what it states on the label.”
Since 2010, every facet of the Wattle Organic Farms agricultural enterprise has been certified and bares the Australian Certified Organic BUD trademark logo.
Kelvin says he’s proud the widely recognised logo is stamped on Wattle Organic Farms’ produce and that a national standard is an overdue next step for the industry.
“Without domestic regulation, there is a chance the customer is being cheated, which is unacceptable,” he says. “More and more, we’re noticing consumers are opting to buy organic products when they’re presented with a choice to do so. Our industry needs the necessary guarantees in place for our expanding customer base.”
Want to ensure that the product you’re buying is genuinely organic? Only officially certified organic products will feature an official certification logo – such as the “BUD” logo or the NAASA Certified Organic label.