The Organic Advantage

INDUSTRY NEWS:Round up of grants and assistance

Food processing grants for regional Australia:
The Australian Government is offering grants for primary producers and small to medium food processors in rural and regional Australia to add value to food produce and undertake related supporting activities, including the establishment of regional networks and market contacts.

Grants of up to $200,000 are now available on a matched dollar-for-dollar basis.

To apply, you must be a small to medium business operating in rural and regional Australia, and proposing a commercially viable food business project that will benefit your region.

There will be a number of funding round for the program.

For more information and closing dates for the latest round of applications, call 1300 794 550, email; visit

FarmBis provides financial assistance in training:

FarmBis is a jointly funded initiative between the Australian and State Governments that provides financial assistance to primary producers to participate in training and education activities.

There are currently over 120 training providers who are available to work with industry organisations and producer groups to meet training needs in a wide variety of learning areas.

A 50% subsidy rate applies across all training categories which include Human Resource Management, Financial Management, General Business Management, Marketing, Production Management, and Natural Resource Management/Biodiversity.

For information visit or contact Michael Gilbert, phone: (07) 3239 3064

Editor's note: BFA will be sending a survey to BFA members and ACO certified operators in the coming week to determine what training may be of assistance to producers. All those interested are welcome to join a BFA FarmBiz subsidised training course. Keep watch for information on the BFA website or contact David Hardwick on ph. 07 3350 5706 or email

Country Women’s Association emergency family and community grants:
On 24 October 2006, the Australian Government announced a new drought package to assist farmers in areas severely affected by drought. These measures recognise the unprecedented severity, length and extent of the current drought, and its impact on rural and regional communities, the environment, and the broader Australian economy.

The Country Women’s Association will distribute $4 million in emergency aid grants over two years to drought affected communities. The grants may be used to meet the immediate household needs of rural families and to fund community based activities.

Individual grants: Grants of up to $2000 per household are available to drought affected families in rural communities.

Community grants: Grants of up to $3000 are available to community groups, schools and not-for-profit organisations to help meet the costs of holding events and providing support to drought affected communities.

National: or phone 03 6426 7235

AGRIBUSINESS NEWS:Cattle sale initiative to attract volumes to meet demand

Landmark, AuctionsPlus and the BFA/ ACO have agreed to work together to develop and promote a monthly organic livestock sale on AuctionsPlus.

It is hoped that by working together the ‘Australian Certified Organic/ Landmark/ AuctionsPlus Monthly Organic Sale’ will be developed to attract sufficient volume to allow certified organic livestock producers an efficient and competitive market place for organic store stock.

AuctionsPlus provides an ideal facility to sell organic store cattle and sheep as the integrity of the cattle’s organic status is not threatened while allowing access to a broader market. Col Cambell, Landmark/AuctionsPlus Qld/NT commented ‘This is a new niche market in a sector with high growth potential and introduces a whole new sector to the benefits of AuctionsPlus. Landmark looks forward to working with the certified organic industry to develop this initiative.

The sale will take place on the last Friday of every month, beginning November, after the regular 10am Eastern States sale. Details of each sale will be circulated by BFA to its subscription list of over 500 organic livestock producers through the BFA livestock subcommittee e-circular.

To list cattle and for information contact:
Landmark QLD/NT Auction Plus State Co-ordinator – Colin Campbell (mob: 0429068810 email, NSW/VIC Co-ordinator Bob Russ (mob:0419276851 email, SA Co-ordinator Wayne Hall (mob: 0427369699 email and WA Co-ordinator Chris Medcalf (mob: 0427423232).
BFA will act as a facilitator and link rather than an active participant in the sales. All listings and sales will be between Landmark/Auction Plus and the individual organic producers.

ENVIRONMENT: Healthy soils for sustainable farms

The Healthy Soils for Sustainable Farms (HSSF) program is an initiative of the Natural Heritage Trust in partnership with the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), funded by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, and managed by Land & Water Australia.

Biological Farmers of Australia (BFA) has been successful in receiving funding support as part of this initiative for delivering workshops on low input farming approaches to soil health management for regional stakeholders and land resource managers across south-east Queensland.

The project will involve holding 20 workshops facilitated by people with extensive industry and extension experience.

The courses incorporate action learning processes focused on developing knowledge on how farm practices can be designed and integrated to achieve soil health outcomes, reduce production cost, redue energy use and reduce downside externalities, whilst sustaining optimum production.

As at December 2006, four workshops have been carried out in Maleny, Rathdowney, Toogoolawah and Tansy-Goomeri.

The next planned workshops will be run in the Gatton and Bundaberg regions. These will be particularly aimed at benefiting organic practitioners from all farming enterprise sectors, however are open to all interested.

To register your interest in a workshop please contact Greg Paynter,, 07 3350 5716.

HEALTH: Organic milk the best

Source: Living Earth ed 228 winter 2006
Top scientists have urged the [UK] Government’s food watchdog to recognize that organic milk has more nutrients than non-organic milk. The 14 scientists wrote to the Food Standards Agency (FSA), following new independent research from the Universities of Liverpool and Glasgow, which demonstrated that one pint of organic milk is on average 68% richer in health-promoting omega-3 fatty acids. It also has a favourable ratio of omega-6 to omega-3.

This is the first study to consider a cross section of UK farms (36 farms in total) over a 12-month production cycle. The new research confirms findings from at least three other studies. The enhanced nutritional benefit of organic milk is due to the cows’ organic and more natural diet, which is high in fresh grass, forage and clover.

Unlike the FSA, the public has seized the good news message on organic milk: one in every 30 pints of milk sold is now organic. However this could mean supermarkets going abroad to meet the growing demand for organic milk. In response, OMSCo, the UK’s biggest milk cooperative, is calling for a rise in the price paid to UK farmers for their organic milk. This is both to cover the costs of production, and to encourage more UK dairy farmers to convert to organic.

To read the scientists’ letter and find out more about these studies, visit

GOOD TASTE:Asparagus with herb and honey dressing

Truly fresh asparagus is a treat and best cooked until just tender together with flavours subtle enough to enhance but not overpower its natural taste. At this time of year beautiful organic asparagus can be found at most local organic markets and retailers.

Ingredients (serves 4):
At least 250g of fresh Australian organic asparagus
For the dressing:
30g herbs (parsley & mint work well)
Two tablespoons white vinegar
One teaspoon honey
150ml sunflower oil
Salt and pepper

To make the dressing, pile all ingredients into a blender and blend until you have a green, smooth emulsion. Adjust to taste with salt.

Trim the lower part of the asparagus stalks. Simmer in lightly salted water for 5 minutes or steam until just tender. Serve warm or at room temperature with the herb and honey dressing.

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Ph: 07 3350 5706 (International +61 7 3350 5706)