A growing niche of the ag sector is sharpening its pitch as the organic industry meets in Canberra to speak with a united voice for the first time.
The industry is bringing a message of optimism to the Agriculture Minister David Littleproud and his department, which is hosting the Love Organic symposium on Wednesday, February 14 at Old Parliament House.
At issue is private and public support for organic growth, the federal government’s ongoing review of organic export regulations and the industry’s plans to form an inaugural peak body.
“Some of the world’s largest markets for premium organic produce are right on our doorstep,” Mr Littleproud said.
Government is working on growth strategies with organic industry representatives, led by Greg McNamara of Norco, and has delivered $170,000 as part of the Agricultural Trade and Market Access Cooperation program.
“Australia is well placed to capitalise on the growing love for organics,” Minister Littleproud said.
Organic Federation of Australia chairwoman Simone Tully, who is also-founder of beef company Australian Organic Meats, said the federal government’s support reflected industry optimism.
“There are lots of examples of successful oprganic supply chains in Australia. They’re small at the moment, but they’re getting bigger,” Ms Tully said.
“Farmers tend to feel the barriers to entry are high, and risky. But they aren’t supported with research and development and peer review data.
“We need more investment into R&D and extension.”
Ms Tully said there is an “overwhelming” of inquiry from prospective foreign investors and producers should be aware of the price premiums that organic products attract.
“The anecdotal inquiries are backed up by research that shows organic will play a bigger role on shelves around the world and Australian farmers should be taking notice.
“Hopefully the symposium can help focus the Research and Development Corporations (RDCs) attention on the opportunities in their areas.
“We want to kindly request them (RDCs) to think about how they can develop an R&D strategy for organics.”
The global market for organic produce is valued at $80 billion, with 48pc in the US and 44pc across Europe. The most exciting prospect for Australia is the opportunity to supply the expected demand from Asia’s growing middle class.
IBISWorld forecast 13pc growth year-on-year growth to 2020 for Australia’s overall organic industry.
Beef comprises about 20pc of Australia’s organic exports and horticulture, dairy and wine each make up about 5pc.
There are roughly 2000 Australian organic producers and 1150 processors.
The land area certified for organic production has grown fourfold in 15 years, with some 27 million hectares accredited at last count, which is half the world total.
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