INDUSTRY NEWS:Expressions of interest for RIRDC Advisory Committees

RIRDC has a single, specific objective: to maximize the contribution of our R&D investments to the profitability, sustainability and resilience of rural industries and communities.

RIRDC’s Advisory Committees play a crucial role in helping to shape strategic research plans and identify the best research to implement them. The expertise of individual committee members is critical to this role.

RIRDC invites suitable candidates to submit an Expression of Interest to the Corporation to be considered for a register of prospective committee members.

While there are no specific vacancies on any of the committees at present, the membership of these committees is refreshed on a regular basis, and candidates on the register established from these expressions of interest will be invited to join committees as appropriate vacancies arise.

This process will complement, not replace, existing industry processes to identify advisory committee representatives.

If you are interested in applying please visit the RIRDC website at for further information.

AGRIBUSINESS NEWS: Certified Organic Wool Market Growth

Organic wool interest builds

Source: The Land newspaper, May 10, 2007
By Mark Griggs and Rowena McNaughton

Growers of organic wool are set to reap premiums for their home-grown product as consumers turn toward environmentally-friendly clothing.

Representatives of UK retail giant, Marks and Spencer, and its woollen garment spinner and manufacturer, Ferney Spinning, left the Dubbo area last week convinced they could get enough organic wool for continuous production of high quality men’s woollen garments from organically-grown Merino wool.

Marks and Spencer recently announced plans to launch organic wool, cotton and linen product and triple its sales of organic food as part of the company’s new $480 million “eco-plan”.

Manager of Marks and Spencer’s sustainable textiles division, Graham Burden, was in Australia last week with Ferney Spinning’s mill manager, Jean-Baptiste de Speville and CIEL Textile operations executive officer, Eddy Yeung, as guests of Fletcher International Exports topmakers division manager, Anthony Hill, and wool buyer, Phil Cranney.

Mr Yeung said his company had decided to go organic.

“It’s just a matter of when,” he said.

We have ambitious plans, but we needed to know what’s available and when it’s available.

“Our visit has helped us to understand this and we plan to introduce the organic lines next year.”

Mt Yeung said CIEL Textile and Marks and Spencer – its main customer – had been keen to see the production environment behind organic wool in Australia.

“We wanted to see for ourselves what the organic environment means to our industry compared to conventional wool production.

We have contracts with large customers who have a lot of questions about organic wool.

“And we can see 100 percent organic wool has a big future.

“I can even see blanket manufacturing going organic.”

Mr Hall said Fletchers had been dealing with Ferney Spinning for just over four years and saw the potential for organic wool marketing when Ferney’s major customer, Marks and Spencer, turned to organic garment marketing.

“We gained our organic wool processing accreditation in September last year and had produced our first batch of organic wool tops by Christmas,” Mr Hall said.

A total of 25 tonnes had been shipped to Mauritius, Germany and United States mills for testing.

“Organic wool is a winner and will be a big bonus for western area producers who will pick up premiums for their organically produced wool,” Mr Hall said.

Organic wool currently accounts for less than one per cent of the nation’s clip.

Lempriere Fox and Lillie technical and marketing coordinator, Eamon Tinns, said the industry’s ability to meet demand would determine the profitability of organic wool in the long-term.

“The push is in its early days, and whether the organic wool industry can profit from such demand is going to depend on developing better supply,” Mr Timms said.

If the organic industry failed to boost current wool volumes Mr Timms said it would be difficult to move ahead.

A large percentage of organic wool from Argentina and a smaller quantity from New Zealand is feeding growing European and United States demand; however Mr Timms said inconsistent supply had brought a number of enquiries into his office.

Mr Timms said both export parent companies of Lempriere Fox and Lillie were receiving more enquiries recently to supply organic types and other exporters were reporting similar interest.

Largest ever certified organic wool sale a success

On Thursday 24th May Elders Ltd held Australia’s largest ever organic wool sale in Melbourne.

The sale was a success with wool prices on the increase and a significant price premium gained on organic wool, largely represented by consultancy group Organics for Rural Australia (ORA)/ Rural Organics.

The premium prices gained by the three ORA wool growers McClure & Daughters (Trevallyn Station), Jack Ker (Tarella Station) and Brendon Cullen (Mt Westwood) was welcome, reflecting the rising interest in the niche market of organic wool.

ACO staff and Elders’ Goeff Redden have worked with ORA and Rural Organics since the consultancy group began in 2001. For ORA Managing Director Janie McClure it has been about building and developing relationships for creating a unique teamwork which has enabled the establishment of an organic wool sale and provided a framework for future development of organic wool production in Australia.

Janie says “Our consultancy group together with Geoff Redden, Manager of Elders Ltd Premier and Certified Organic Wool, and the ACO have cooperated to ensure that the certifications and supporting paper trails were in place for the wool to be marketed with organic integrity.

“Elders BWK provided the highest bid overall for around 600 bales of certified organic wool of which over 90% was provided by ORA,” she added.

The wool is largely destined to be made into woollen fashion items in the UK and US to service the rapidly growing trend for environmentally friendly clothing.

ENVIRONMENT: Reviewing the State Moratoria on GM Crops

As governments review their bans on genetically manipulated (GM) crops in 2007 and 2008, action by farmers is urgently encouraged. Australian organic and biodynamic producers will be among those to suffer if the states’ moratoria on GM crops are not extended.

GeneEthics is running a campaign to extend the moratoria for 5 years. Legally, the bans can only be extended on marketing grounds — rather than health or environmental safety grounds.

Still, marketing grounds alone call for the bans to be extended. Market losses are inevitable if GM food crops are introduced, as most Australians don’t want genetically engineered food. Nor do our biggest overseas markets, who reject GM produce and pay premium prices for non-GM food.

Lifting the bans on GM would have effects all the way down the food chain. For example, the dairy industry is likely to face steep market losses, as its biggest export markets are all risk averse to GM. If the Australian dairy industry were to accept GM, it would risk losing these markets or losing market share to other suppliers.

Our organic and biodynamic farms would especially be at risk, as stock-feed segregation does not always work.

GM crops can’t be controlled to prevent contamination of non-GM crops, yet farmers are expected to take the measures necessary to prevent inevitable contamination.

Our biggest export markets for grains have also made it plain that it would not buy GM produce. This is why so many Australian companies backed the state government moratoria on GM canola.

Farmers who don’t want to risk the GM path are expected to accept economic loss, extra costs and liabilities from contamination or safety issues. This would be perilous for organic and biodynamic farmers.

Those who don’t wish to grow GM have been pushing for owners of GM patent-owners, rather than farmers, to be liable for economic losses from the introduction of their products. This move has been rejected by seed companies and our governments.

However we can work together now to protect our markets.

Farmers are urged to act now:
• renew support for the state GE crop moratoriums;
• support an extension of the bans in five States and the ACT until 2013; and
• ensure our dairy foods are GM-free. The United Dairy Farmers of Victoria (UDV) AGM on June 19 will be a key moment in Victorian dairy farms staying GM-free for at least another two or three years.

Please contact geneethics now to find out how you can act now to extend the moratoria. For further information, visit, email, or phone 1300 133 868.

For further information on keeping dairy products GM free. Download the geneethics Dairy Briefing 2007 and Dairy Action Alert or visit the above websites.

HEALTH: Research provides good reasons for avoiding food additives

An article published in the UK's Daily Mail recently warned parents of the danger of artificial additives used in drinks, sweets and processed foods further with research recently confirming a link between these and behaviour problems in children.

"A study funded by the government's Food Standards Agency (FSA) is understood to have drawn a link with temper tantrums and poor concentration.

"Researchers have found a definite link between additives and temper problems with children.

"There are also concerns about allergic reactions such as asthma and rashes.

"The findings are potentially explosive for the entire food industry, which faces the need to reformulate a vast array of children's products," it warns.

Shane Heaton, Nutritionist for the Biological Farmers of Australia comments "Choosing organic products can help consumers avoid a wide range and large quantity of potentially allergenic or harmful additives. I've said it before and I'll say it again: organic food is not a luxury - it's how food is supposed to be."

Source: Daily Mail

Organic milk wins gold at Sydney Royal Show

Boutique milk booms, By ALAN DICK - Australia
Monday, 21 May 2007

A small NSW South Coast co-operative which launched its own milk brand for local consumption just 18 months ago has already made quite a splash.

South Coast Dairy, a subsidiary of the Berry Rural Co-operative Society Ltd, collected one gold and three silver medals for its milk at this year's recent Sydney Royal Show dairy produce awards.

The gold medal milk, an organic light product, scored 19 out of 20 and was also chosen best milk of the show.

Not only that, South Coast Dairy's sales are expanding rapidly and it is exploring the possibility of expanding its product range.

SOURCE: Extract from the May 17 issue of The Land, NSW's weekly rural newspaper.

Editor's note: South Coast Dairy is supplied by milk processors Country Valley & Highland Organics. The producers of the milk are dairy farmers EL & TL Smillie. Both operations are certified organic through ACO.

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