OFA Organic Standard February 2006

Organic Sector Expands Around the World
This edition contains more information showing the consistent expansion of the Organic Sector around the world. We are seeing continuing growth in all continents along the whole supply chain from producers, retailers and consumers.

In Australia the organic wholesale and retail sectors are growing at between 30-50% PA whereas production is growing between 15- 20% PA. The balance is being made up by imports. Australia is one of the worlds leading grain exporters, however we are importing organic grains to meet the shortfall in production.

Dairy farmers are still leaving the industry while the highest value dairy markets, organic, has a shortfall in products in most major markets. It is estimated that the UK market will have to import 30% of its demand to meet the shortfall. The USA is in a similar position and is about to import the shortfall from New Zealand.

According to the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics (ABARE) over 20,000 farmers left the industry in the last decade. Despite this decline, the number of organic farmers continues to increase. We believe that there a good case for the research development corporations to work with RIRDC and the OFA to stop this decline in farmers by assisting conversion to organic systems in the products where we have shortfalls.

Thank You to Senator, the Hon. Richard Colbeck
The OFA would like to wish Senator the Hon. Richard Colbeck all the best with his new position as Parliamentary Secretary for Finance. As Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Colbeck took a keen interest in the organic sector. We appreciate all the effort he put into working with us on the various sector issues. His time as the Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry saw a constructive change in the relationship between the organic sector and the Australian Government.

We look forward to building on this positive relationship with the Australian Government with the new Parliamentary Secretary, The Hon. Sussan Ley MP.

Expression of Interest to Supply Secretariat Services to the OFA
The OFA seeking expressions of interests from companies or individuals who can supply secretariat services. Interested persons should send an email headed with the word Secretariat to chair@ofa.org.au for the document outlining the requirements and selection criteria.

Best regards
Andre Leu

Australian Organic News

The Third OFA National Organic Conference July 22-3 2006
The OFA is hosting the Third National Organic Conference at Darling Harbour, Sydney Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd July 2006 in conjunction with the Organic Expo.

The theme of the conference is Organics - Solutions to Climate Change. The conference will look at ways of reducing the 25% of Australia's greenhouse gases created by Agriculture. It will feature keynote speakers who will show how best practice organic systems reduce green house gases and can reverse some of the causes of climate change. A significant feature will be workshops facilitated by experts in organic and biodynamic farming systems on the best methods to sequester greenhouse gases in the soil as carbon and reduce the output of green house gases.

This conference will help farmers and gardeners reduce their production costs, increase their profitability and yields as well as ensure a positive contribution to one of the worlds major problems.

The conference will be essential to consumers, farmers, researchers, scientists and policy makers concerned about climate change.

European Breakthrough for Aussie Organic Beef
Australian organic beef has piqued the interest of Prince Charles, been feasted on by powerbrokers in Europe and has made its way on to the menus of some of the top restaurants. It is the result of a partnership between Stockyard, a beef processing and marketing company, and Organic Beef Exporters (OBE), a cluster of family producers from Channel Country on the Queensland/South Australia border. Stockyard Beef has made a breakthrough in Europe, with exports of Channel Country meat to Brussels beginning after a seven-year battle with European Union bureaucrats.

The prized beef has been snapped up by ritzy hotels and fine-dining restaurants in the Belgian capital, second home of European heads of state on EU business. Euro chefs say it tastes like nothing they have had before. Prince Charles even asked about it when he heard it being discussed at a shoot in England.

The deal means Stockyard and OBE have beaten Australian beef giant Stanbroke into Europe. "We had to fight like hell to get our quota," says Stockyard general manager Lachie Hart. "It is limited but it is a start. We will grow from here." Source: The Daily Telegraph UK

"EcoV - The Global Organics & Sustainability Show" Bendigo Exhibition Centre 5 – 7 May 2006
EcoV is much, much more than an expo for consumers. EcoV will be the largest ever eco-living show to be held in regional Victoria. As well, it will be the most comprehensive Organic and Bio-dynamic promotion in the state. It also will be the biggest sustainable farming expo in Victoria, if not nationally.

The exchange of ideas in the seminar program will be directed at organic and biodynamic producers and the wider farming community in general. Viv Burnett and her team from the Department of Primary Industry Victoria will present the latest finding on their continuing research program into organic cereal and oil seed crops, perennial pastures, lamb production, viticulture, citrus and vegetable growing. David Holmgren, the co-originator of Permaculture, will be on hand to explain his belief that Permaculture could reinvigorate Organic farming.

Other seminars will focus on climate change and farming, biodiversity on farms, irrigation and river health, a health check to sustain the sustainable farmer, and the Gippsland experience with the national Environment Management System (EMS.)

The Organic Federation of Australia are Gold Sponsors of EcoV along with the two major certifiers, the National Association of Sustainable Agriculture Australia (NASAA,) and Australian Certified Organic (ACO) UNESCO has recognised EcoV role as an educator and given permission for EcoV to use the UN logo for the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.

Further details on EcoV can be found on the website www.ecov.net.au Brian Abbott
Director EcoV 0404 06 1404 (03) 9889 5631 ecov@ecov.net.au

World Organic News

Booming Independent Organic Market in UK
There has been concern in some parts of the organic sector over the increasing role of supermarkets in the sale of organic products. Recent data from the UK show that the main increases in organic products were in the independent sector rather than supermarkets. Organic food sales through box schemes, farm shops and farmers' markets increased by 33 per cent and through independent shops by 43 per cent in 2004.

This increase in the independent sector shows that concerns over supermarkets taking over the retail of organic products are unfounded. Supermarkets in the UK saw their share of organic food sales fall from 81 per cent to 75 per cent. The overall market in organic products in the UK increased by 11 per cent to reach A$3.6 billion in 2004. Source: Organic Monitor

USA: Market Growth Stifled by Under Supply
Most sectors of the organic food industry in the USA have a shortage of supply, which is stunting market growth.

Shortage of organic products is making producers look outbound for raw materials. Increasing volume of organic fruit, vegetables, grains, seeds, beans, and herbs are being imported into the US. Finished products are also imported to meet consumer demand for organic products.

It is estimated that over US $1.5 billion of organic products are imported into the US, compared to about US $150 million in American exports.

Scarcity of raw material is leading Stonyfield Farm, the dominant producer of organic yoghurt, to look at sourcing organic milk powder from New Zealand. The low number of organic livestock producers in the US has been responsible for the organic meat industry to experience under supply for a number of years. American producers have resorted to imported organic beef from Australia and Latin American countries.

The rate of growth in the US organic would be much higher if sufficient supply were available. For instance, lack of organic milk has caused many retailers to have empty shelves throughout the year. The organic juice market appears to have become the major casualty with news that a leading organic juice producer is to stop production because of shortage of raw material.

The organic food company cannot find enough orange juice to meet its growing production needs and has decided to withdraw from the market and focus on other product categories. The Florida hurricanes depleted orange juice stocks and imports are prohibitively expensive.

With American demand for organic foods expected to strengthen in the coming years, supply shortages are likely to continue. Unless more American farmers consider converting to organic practices, exporters are likely to capitalize on this lucrative market.http://www.organicmonitor.com/r1512.htm

UAE: Emirate Unveils Plans for Organic Agriculture
With the aim of providing its people with healthy food, the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah has chalked out plans to introduce organic agriculture (OA).

The emirate, in association with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, has developed a strategy to introduce the new agricultural method to farmers. "The plan features increasing the farmers awareness on the importance of shifting to the OA system besides its standards and implementation methods," Engineer Saeed Hassan Al Bagham Al Nuaimi, Head of the Research Section of the Northern Agriculture Region, told Khaleej Times.

The department is also planning to educate farmers on the number of years required for each farm to shift to OA, besides the material required to be used in all the farming process, packing and marketing. Source: Emirates News Agency

Uganda: St. Jude Gives Farmers Organic Skills
St. Jude Family Projects is training farmers in modern Integrated Organic Farming (IOF). For the past 12 years, the project has equipped more than 180,000 farmers with skills in IOF.

Integrated Organic Farming is a process of harmonious co-existence between the various components on a farm - plants, animals, water and soils. Each component contributes directly or indirectly to the other.

The centre, located at Busense, Kabonera sub-county in Bukoto Central, Masaka district, has become a 'presidential model' for small-scale farmers in the country. The IOF training programme offers 75% practical skills and 25% theory. Practicals are offered in the 17 projects at the centre. These include poultry, fish-farming, bee-keeping, mushroom and vegetable growing, biogas and storm water harvesting.

"The programme emphasises practical participation so that the trainees can successfully implement what they learn. The training can be short-term residential or non-residential," says Josephine Kizza, the executive director St. Jude. Trainees come from all districts of Uganda. A substantial number of women, children and vulnerable people like school drop-outs have been trained. Eighty percent of the trainees have been women, who make up the bulk of farmers in the country.

Since 1993, the centre has empowered over 180,000 small-scale farmers in Africa and Europe with IOF knowledge. They have also trained farmers from Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Rwanda. After training, the participants who have put what they learnt into practice are issued a Certificate of Adoption.

"Our training staff provide effective support and later follow up the trained farmers in their respective communities," says Kizza. Source: New Vision (Uganda)

Armenia: President Supports Organic Investment

President Robert Kocharian of the Republic of Amenia has stated that the state will support a program on developing organic food production in Armenia. He said that Armenia will spare no efforts to enter the EU market and a program on organic food production will greatly contribute to towards achieving this. Source: The Times (UK)