Organic Federation of Australia

Organic Update July 2006

Organic Sector Continues to Grow

The good news continues to grow for the organic sector. The OFA is pleased with the level of support that we are receiving from the Australian Government, especially from The Hon. Sussan Ley MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, DAFF, AQIS and RIRDC. We look forward to building on this positive relationship.

Australian Standard

The government continues to give strong support for an Australian Standard for Organic and Biodynamic Produce. This process will lead to regulation that will protect the integrity of the organic sector from fraud and misrepresentation.

Research and Development
Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) has approved a new 5 year R&D plan for the organic sector that will see a significant increase in funding for organic research and development. Very importantly this plan seeks to involve other research organisations in joint venture organic projects.

The Hon. Sussan Ley MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, who has the ministerial responsibility for R&D and Organics supported the concept of joint venture organic projects in her speech at the launch of ‘Export Potential for Organics’, a new report from RIRDC.

"This research is yet another demonstration that organic industries are not a passing fad," Ms Ley said.

"The organics industry also sits across the traditional sectors, like beef, lamb, broadacre grains and horticulture, as well as many of the emerging sectors. For organic industries to succeed, they need support from the sectors in which they operate."

RIRDC Managing Director Dr Peter O'Brien said "We can see change in the makeup of Australian production already, and this change will continue. With the right help, the new rural industries - including the organic industries - will make an important, growing and unique contribution to the profitability, sustainability and resilience of rural Australia."

Export Potential for Organics - is available from RIRDC. For more details, visit or call (02) 6272 4819.

Third OFA National Organic Conference

RIRDC is the principal sponsor of this event. RIRDC, along with NASAA, was the principal sponsor of the IFOAM World Congress in Adelaide last year. This event focussed world attention on the Australian organic sector.


Australia’s leading scientific research organisation is taking an interest in organic farming systems. They have just published a book edited by OFA board member, Dr Paul Kristiansen, of the the University of New England. Further details can be found later in this email.

We are pleased that two CSIRO scientists, Dr Maarten Stapper and Dr Jan Skjemstad will be speaking at our national organic conference this month.

Continued Growth

Organic products are one of the fastest growing food sectors in the world and are currently produced and consumed in over 130 countries. This growth of new farms, products and numbers of consumers has been steadily increasing over the last 20 years. In the last 10 years the rate of growth has consistently increased in all of the advanced economies. Market analysts forecast annual growth rates of between 10% and 30%. Asia and North America are enjoying sustained annual growth of between 20-45%


Market analysts forecast annual growth rates between 10% and 30% around the world. Asia and North America are enjoying a sustained annual growth of between 20-45%.

In 2004, the organic market in the USA had a value of over A$14.7 billion and the overall European market was worth A$17.3 billion. The market in China reached A$10.7 billion according their government’s own data.

Demand Outstrips Supply in Key Areas

USDA statistics cite that organic dairy farming grew 477 percent in six years, from 12,897 certified organic dairy cows in 1997 to 74,435 in 2003 in the USA. But the growth in organic dairy farms, acreage and animals is not keeping pace with consumer demand. Organic dairy sales in supermarkets are growing 36 percent annually. To meet demand, the US is importing organic milk from New Zealand and is about to import organic milk form Australia. At the same time Australian organic dairy businesses cannot meet the rapidly growing demand and need more farmers to produce organic milk to supply domestic demand.


The situation in Europe is similar. Demand for organic milk skyrocketed 2 years ago after a scientific study showed that it was higher in nutrients. The UK will have a 30% shortfall this year.

The situation for organic grains is the same. Industry organisations, such as the Organic Federation of Australia, get regular requests from around the world for organic grain from Australia. Unfortunately we cannot supply these customers as we are importing organic flour and grains to meet our domestic demand. We need more organic grain farmers to meet both the domestic and export demand in this high value market.

OFA AGM, 13.30 to 14.30, July 21 2006
The AGM of the OFA will be held at The Organic Expo, OFA Seminar Room, Hall 3, Sydney Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour.
All OFA members and interested people are most welcome.

New PO Box
We have a new postal address: PO Box 369, Bellingen, NSW 2454

Best Regards
Andre Leu

The Third OFA National Organic Conference
Darling Harbour, Sydney, Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd July 2006

Conference Early Bird Registration of $250 has been extended to July 18.
Due to the large number of continuing enquiries and last minute decisions to register, we have decided to extend the $250 price. This is excellent value for a national conference with such high calibre speakers.

Leading World and Australian Experts
Leading world and Australian experts will be speaking at the Third OFA National Organic Conference on improving farm profitability and reducing greenhouse gases

  • Dr Elaine Ingham, one of the worlds leading soil microbiologists will show how composting can sequester carbon into the soil and help reverse the greenhouse gases created by our society.
  • Dr Maarten Stapper a Principal Research Scientist at CSIRO-Plant Industries will show farmers how to improve the profitability of their operations by harnessing natural soil processes. According to Dr Stapper a healthy soil leads to better crops and pastures requiring less inputs for similar productivity, resulting in healthy animals and improved food quality for healthy humans. In the process soil organic carbon can be doubled which also helps society by slowing climate change.
  • Dr Jan Skjemstad, a Senior Research Scientist, CSIRO-Land & Water, Adelaide will talk on the varied mechanisms which protect soil organic matter from decomposition into CO2.
  • Dr David Midmore, Head of Plant Sciences Group, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton will speak on intensive organic production systems and issues of sustainability.
  • Viv Burnett, Research scientist, Victorian Department of Primary Industries, Rutherglen will look at the contribution of organics to GHG abatement using perennial pastures.
  • Hamish Mackay, Development manager, Biodynamic Agriculture Australia, Bellingen will show how to move from inputs and create natural fertility on-farm.
  • Tim Kempton, Researcher, Stance Agriculture, Kenmore speaks on strategic feeding to reduce inputs and increase efficiency of grazing ruminants.
  • Gulgong farmer, Colin Seis will talk on Pasture cropping: a land management technique.
  • Dr Geoff Gurr of Charles Sturt University, Orange will look at ecological pest management solutions for organic agriculture.
  • Stuart Larsson, the General Manager, Marra Seeds, Mallanganee will show the effectiveness of commercial composting and grain production.

OFA Awards Dinner Night and Launch of JOS

As part of the activities over the July weekend there will be an OFA Awards Dinner Night on Saturday July 22. The OFA Awards dinner will feature the launch of the Journal of Organic Systems and the presentation of appreciation awards to people who have given a lifetime service to the organic sector. Organic food and drinks will be served. Details can be found on our website.


Bookings are essential
Held in conjunction with the Organic Expo to create Australia’s largest organic event, the conference will be a great opportunity to see the full range of organic products and learn more about the worlds fastest growing food industry.
For Bookings: Mary Hackett:
Ph: 02 9319-1228 Fx: 02 9453-3499 Mobile: 0414 306-689 Email: Web:

Health News

US Scientists Condemn EPA
Over 9,000 EPA scientists have submitted a letter to the United States EPA, indicating that due to industry pressure, the "integrity of the science upon which agency decisions are based has been compromised." In particular, the scientists are concerned about a group of organophosphate pesticides they believe should no longer be allowed on the market due to their harmful effects on children, infants and fetuses. Specifically, the letter references 20 toxic pesticides that were developed from nerve gases after World War II, many of which are still available for purchase at most gardening centers.

Pesticide Exposure Effects Following Generations
Exposure to pesticides reaches across generations, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. The research led by Professor Elizabeth Guillette, of the University of Florida, found that some daughters of mothers who lived near areas with heavy agricultural spraying may be unable to nurse their children.

Pesticide Exposure Increases Parkinson’s Disease

A scientific study showed that Parkinson's patients were 2.4 times more likely to be exposed to pesticides in their life than those who were not exposed to pesticides The population-based case-control study was conducted by Mayo Clinic scientists and published in the June issue of the journal Movement Disorders.



Organic Agriculture: A Global Perspective
Edited by Paul Kristiansen, Acram Taji & John Reganold, this comprehensive scientific publication looks at all aspects of organic systems. Many of the world’s leading researchers have written papers for this important publication. This book will be used as a valuable reference in Australia and around the world.

For Information on this new publication:
Email: Order online

Priority One
Allan Yeomans, the son of PA Yeomans, who developed Keyline Farming has written a new book looking at solutions to climate change. A significant proportion of the book deals with carbon sequestration through organic farming systems.
Available from Keyline Publications: 30 Demand Ave, Arundel Qld 4214
Ph 0755176544

Perhaps They’ll Listen Now
Margaret Humphries has written an autobiography on how exposure to small amounts of pesticides on her citrus farm destroyed her health. This is a valuable first hand account on the issue of chemical sensitivity and well worth reading.
Available from Zeus Publications: www.


Call for papers: Back to Basics, the 2006 Queensland State Organic Conference
The Organic Producers Association of Queensland is seeking expressions of interest from people who wish to participate in the 2006 Back to Basics State Organic Conference, Beerwah, September 1&2 2006, as speakers or workshop presenters.

Please, summarise your proposal for a speech or workshop in 100 words or so, and email to Les Nicholls at Or post to OPAQ c/o Les Nicholls PO Box 160 Glasshouse Mountains, Qld 4518.

'Managing the Carbon Cycle' HORSHAM 26-27th July 2006

  • Ray O'Grady: Importance of Soil Carbon
  • Andre Leu: Increasing soil carbon, crop productivity and farm profitability
  • Rod Rush: Understanding mycorrhizal fungi Mycorrhizal fungi form symbiotic associations with the roots of many plant species.
  • Tony Scherer: Back to Basics Returning to a biologically based farming system
  • Andrew Helps: Climate change and dryland farming
  • Michael and Louisa Kiely: Carbon Credits from Soil
  • John and Val Hanley: Organic grain and fodder production
  • David Marsh: produce profits, increase carbon sequestration in soils and regenerate landscapes
  • Colin Seis: Carbon farming through Pasture Cropping
  • Liz Clay: Positioning soil in the carbon market - a Victorian perspective

REGISTRATION: Places for this information packed two day forum are limited. Registration deadline 14 July 2006. Visit or contact UNE Conference Company (02) 6773 2154

August this year sees the return of the popular Organic Symposium. This event brings the reality of clean food production and processing to the consumer in an informative and entertaining day of speakers and product sampling.

On Saturday 5th of August at the Simmonds Lecture Theatre at the University of Western Australia, the Organic Growers Association of WA (OGAWA) host a wide range of speakers covering topics explaining organic production and processing in a simple informative way.

Keynote speaker is Andre Leu of the Organic Federation of Australia speaking on domestic standards for organic production. He will be followed by Professor Lyn Abbott and Jen Davis of UWA speaking on new industry research.

Producers and processors have been invited to tell their story and organic certification is explained by a representative of the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia (NASAA). The afternoon session develops the theme of clean food and where it sits in the global scheme. All participants are then invited to take part in sampling some of the food and beverages grown and processed as certified organic products.

Linking to this event the Organic Growers Association is hosting a second day specific to people already working within the Organic industry. This industry workshop will be held at York on Sunday 6th of August.

The theme is the positive future of the organic industry with keynote speaker Andre Leu of the Organic Federation of Australia (OFA) speaking on the benefits of having a peak body and the development of a domestic standard for Australian organic industry. Other topics for the day include potential markets, industry stories and environmental management systems applicable to organic operations. Trade representation invited and long breaks are planned to facilitate networking among participants.

Enquiries to Organic Growers Association WA
Email: Phone (08) 9453-1783

Organic Update is a publication of the Organic Federation of Australia
Phone +61 1300 657 435
PO Box 369 Bellingen NSW 2454 Australia