Newsletter December 2020

OIA Ltd

NEWSLETTER — DECEMBER 2020

Representing all certified organic operators

In this issue

Message from the Chair of OIA Ltd

As we come to the end of 2020, it provides an opportunity for us to reflect on just how significant Australia’s collective response has been to the new year bushfires & the Covid-19 pandemic.

Since November 2019, ORICoop, an OIA member, has worked tirelessly with organic and biodynamic farmers directly affected by the bushfires across Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales. Thanks to the generosity of many, they raised over $89,000 through their Organic Farmers Bushfire Appeal. In addition, Government grant programs have delivered much-needed support to bushfire affected communities and businesses.

We are fortunate to have a health system that has been able to respond to cases of Covid-19 in our community and from returning travellers. Many businesses have been able to access some form of Government support, either through Job Keeper or Cashflow Boost. Many manufacturers have been deemed as essential services and have overwhelmingly been able to keep operating. Trucks have been free to move goods across state borders albeit with significant logistics challenges. Demand for home-grown food and fibre has sky-rocketed and many of our farmers are enjoying good returns.

But a lack of access to reliable sea and air cargo options has severely impacted our exporters ability to remain competitive in export markets. Industrial action in ports has had a ripple effect on the movement of goods to and from Australia which has led to a negative impact on the cashflow of many businesses.

Organic operators and supply chain partners have been party to the challenges and opportunities that the bushfires and Covid-19 have presented. Through all of the above, OIA has still managed to make progress on matters which are important to us.

  • We’ve had a number meetings with the Government and work particularly well with the Department of Agriculture.
  • We have been lobbying the Government over improved accountability and transparency arrangements for industry regulation.
  • We played a significant role in lobbying against the deregulation of gene technology in the second half of 2019.
  • We made a submission to the Australian Government’s review of Research and Development Corporation system.
  • We lobbied the Government to allow working holiday visa holders to be recognized for volunteer work on organic and biodynamic farms.
  • We supported an Australian-led Oceania bid to host the 2023 organic World Congress in Brisbane. This is now being refined to rebid for the deferred 2024 World Congress.

We have been quietly lobbying government around several themes.

  • We need consistency of regulation across domestic and export markets
  • We need to lift the standard of regulation to improve the confidence of producers, consumers and export markets in Australia’s organic produce
    1. We need to review domestic (including import) and export regulatory arrangements
    2. We need to review the effectiveness and professionalism of how those regulatory arrangements are implemented

We expect to work with the Government through 2021 on options to reform industry regulation:

  • We are developing a process for this that will engage all organic operators in our industry
    1. this will likely involve information papers, online forums, surveys, and teleconference-based workshops
    2. at the core of this is a conversation around the National Standard versus AS6000

Above all else, we need to focus on the best interests of Australia’s current and future organic producers.

We have an organisation which is now firmly established and which generates sufficient revenue to sustain volunteer-based activities. We need strategies to lift revenues to sustain the hiring of a CEO and a policy capability. This is going to be vital to ensure we are sustainable as the industry peak body.

At the AGM earlier this month, we welcomed a number of new Directors to our board. You can learn more about our diverse and experienced Board of Directors here.

OIA always acts in the interests of all certified organic operators.

Our Board wishes you a safe and happy Christmas wherever you may be in Australia.

Dalene Wray
Dalene Wray
Chair, Organic Industries of Australia

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Better domestic regulation a step closer

The Australian Government has established an Organic Industry Advisory Group to consider whether Australia’s current domestic organic regulatory system is fit for purpose to facilitate industry development.

We have been lobbying the Government for better regulation of organics for the domestic and export markets. So we are pleased that the Government has taken this positive step in considering better regulation.

The Chair of OIA Ltd, Dalene Wray, will be representing the interests of all certified organic operators on this advisory group. In January, we will let you know how your views can be fed into this process.

Read more ...

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Submission to FSANZ on irradiation of fruit and vegetables

FSANZWe have made a submission to the FSANZ inquiry into irradiation as a phytosanitary measure for all fresh fruit and vegetables.

We argue that the future of Australian agriculture lies in clean, regenerative approaches—as used by our certified organic members—and so FSANZ should reject this proposal.

Read the submission ...

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Lobbying for casual workers in organics

We wrote to the Minister for Home Affairs and several other parliamentarians seeking special consideration for Working Holiday Maker visa holders wishing to volunteer on Certified Organic and Biodynamic Farms to accrue those days towards their second- and third-year eligibility criteria.

The Government response was that it has no intention of changing the specified work requirement.

Letter to Minister for Home Affairs
Response from Dept of Home Affairs

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Are you an employer of seasonal or casual workers?

Tourism research

Austrade has commissioned Flinders University to run a survey telling government how Australia’s Working Holiday Maker (WHM) program is addressing skill needs in regional Australia.

If you have employed or tried to employ Working Holiday Makers recently, you are invited to take part in a short survey by clicking on the link below.

The survey closes on Wednesday 23 December 2020.

To learn more about this project please click on this link: WHM information sheet or email WHMSurvey@flinders.edu.au

Link to survey

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Seasons greetings from WWOOF

Following the 2020 bushfires, one of our Foundation members, WWOOF Australia, lobbied the Government and successfully gained approval for WWOOF volunteers to qualify for visa extensions while volunteering for WWOOF Hosts in the Bushfire Disaster areas. This was a great breakthrough and many Hosts have benefited from the help of WWOOFers as they get their lives back on track.

WWOOF AustraliaThe COVID-19 Pandemic has been a time for reflection for many people across Australia, during lockdown, who realised they are not living their dream. Joining WWOOF gives them opportunities to gain different skills and experience from WWOOF hosts, to learn and share new ideas with the intention of starting their own sustainable lifestyle. Students who would have once gone overseas for Gap Year are now joining WWOOF Australia because it is a great way to travel around Australia on a budget while gaining life skills and practical hands-on learning opportunities.

WWOOFing is a unique experience, one to be shared with like-minded individuals or couples.

WWOOF Australia would like to offer all its Organic Industries readers a special $25 discount for WWOOF Volunteers using the code ORGANICIND25 when they join on 2 year Single or Dual volunteer memberships. Why not send the ones you love a Sustainable Gift that keeps on giving?

For more information about WWOOF Australia, see wwoof.com.au or call our friendly team during office hours on 0455 023 173

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BIOFACH 2021 in Nuremberg is Going Digital

Biofach 2021The BIOFACH fair that is scheduled to take place in Nuremberg starting 17 February 2021, will be held virtually.

The fair brings together all those working in the organic sector to share, learn, exchange ideas and network.

Read the updates

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Better insurance for insulated panels and coolrooms

AB Phillips

AB Phillips, one of our Foundation members, have extensive knowledge and understanding of insulated panels and have been able to obtain significant premium reductions for buildings considered ‘low risk’.

If you occupy a premises containing insulated panels, you probably need their help finding affordable insurance.

Read more ...

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Become a member

Benefits of membershipBecome a member of the interim peak body which acts in the interests of all certified organic operators.

There are two categories of membership—Full Membership for certified organic operators and Associate Membership for others. Membership is only $10. Foundation Memberships are also available for a limited time for $250.

Read more ...

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Pesticides poison 378m farmers every year

Scientists report that pesticide poisonings on farms around the world have risen dramatically since the last global assessment 30 years ago

An evaluation of available poisoning data from countries all over the world concludes annually there are about 385 million cases of acute poisonings, and that 44% of the world’s 860 million farmers and agricultural workers are poisoned every year.

“These findings underscore the urgency of reducing and eliminating the use of highly hazardous pesticides,” says Kristin Schafer, coordinator of Pesticide Action Network (PAN) International. “These pesticides are causing the unacceptable poisoning of those who produce our food, but also chronic health effects such as cancer and ecological impacts such as the collapse of biodiversity. Time for global action is long overdue.”

Read more ...

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