Public Consultation for Organics Regulation now Open

By Hari Yellina
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The public comment period for the organic industry regulatory framework is now open, and consumers and growers alike can participate. Farmers, transporters, exporters, retailers, consumers, and industry organisations have all been invited to comment on a new organics regulation impact statement. The public comment period will end at 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 17. Australia boasts as the world’s largest organic agricultural area (35.7 million hectares). It is also the world’s last developed country without a national regulation for the phrase “organic” on goods labels.

Joanna Stanion, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment’s first assistant secretary of agricultural policy, said the department is seeking stakeholder input on regulatory and non-regulatory solutions to improve Australia’s domestic organic regulatory framework. “This is a burgeoning sector of agriculture, and we want to hear from a variety of people,” Ms Stanton added. “To date, the department’s consultations have included an online business survey with over 100 responses, a targeted phone survey with over 500 producers and processors, an online consumer survey with over 1000 responses, and a variety of industry roundtables and one-on-one meetings.”

Niki Ford, CEO of Australian Organic Limited (AOL), said the Australian Organic Market Report 2021 revealed that one-third of buyers who purchased an organic product in the preceding year considered they had been misled by organic claims on the packaging. “This is a concerning trend.”Consumers deserve to know that the product they’re buying is truly organic,” Ms Ford added. “Our certified organic producers work incredibly hard to bring certified organic products to market, whereas non-certified organic producers may employ chemicals or techniques that are prohibited by organic standards.” Knowing that consumers will pay a premium price for organic branded goods, uncertified operators charge more for their products and undermine the credibility of the operators who are doing the right thing.

The department’s consultations to date have included an online business survey with over 100 responses, a targeted phone survey of producers and processors with over 500 respondents, an online consumer survey with over 1,000 responses, and a range of industry roundtables and one-on-one meetings. The public consultation is now open and will close in four weeks on Thursday 17 March at 5pm.

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