The nation’s leading body for the organic industry, Australian Organic Ltd (AOL), has welcomed the government’s proposed new draft rules regarding the regulation of organic exports, which will pave the way for potentially significant cost savings for organic producers and increased trade opportunities.
The new draft rules, set out by the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment (DAWE), will be the first step in strengthening and simplifying the current framework.
“We applaud the Department on the proposed rules, and in particular the recognition of the National Standard as the export organic standard,” said Australian Organic Ltd CEO Niki Ford.
“We also commend them for their sound and sensible work on the new Draft Rules for Organic Goods, which have been written to align with the new Export Control Act for goods exported out of Australia.
“These rules will steer the way for significant cost savings for industry through their allowance for electronic export certificates and the appointment of external auditors.”
Ms Ford said the rules will meet relevant importing country requirements and comply with industry standards whilst remaining consistent with other draft rules for prescribed goods.
“We are thrilled organic produce will still be a prescribed good as this underpins the export market opportunities for all Australian Organic producers and manufacturers.”
Fran Freeman, Head of the Department’s Exports Division, said as the growing world-wide demand for high-quality organic agricultural produce is currently being well-met by Australian organic products, a fit-for-purpose regulatory system will enable organic operators to harness existing and further opportunities.
“We’re aiming to simplify these regulations and maximise market access opportunities for Australian producers and manufacturers, through efficient regulation,” Ms Freeman said.
“Organic operators – be they producers, processors or manufacturers – can consider and provide feedback on how to make our regulatory system work for them when it comes to exporting their goods. Ongoing industry consultation will be an important part of this reform process.”
As a result, the export of organic products would no longer be treated separately from the rest of Australia’s agricultural exporters. The department will now look to explore ways to better align organic exports rules with the regulations that apply to other export commodities.
Ms Ford said the allowance for exceptions such as cosmetics will allow for the practical navigation of complexities with importing country requirements, as well as recognising the regional variances with different international standards.
“The Organic Orders are a vital part of the Export Legislation Framework and these Rules are the required updates in line with the Export Control Act 2020,” she said.
She said the maintenance of strict regulation of organic exports also greatly facilitates export trade negotiation.
“This is a key objective of our push for Australia to mirror these rules in the domestic market. Not only do we protect Australian organic consumers, we also benefit from the enormous opportunities for organic equivalency discussions, such as the UK FTA negotiations.
“This step forward in the maintenance of strict export regulation provides a clear foundation for the momentum that exists for domestic regulation in the Australian market.”
The Department confirms that the current export regulations—Export Control (Organic Produce Certification) Orders—will no longer apply from 1 April 2021.
The draft Organic Export regulation is open for comment via the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment’s ‘Have Your Say’ portal.
“Organic exporters will benefit from a more streamlined regulatory system and improved access to the department’s services and systems, which is currently very limited,” said Ms Freeman.
“With a considered approach to organic exports regulation reform, we can uphold our reputation as a reliable trading partner with internationally recognised high standards.”
More about Australian Organic Ltd (AOL)
Australian Organic Ltd (AOL) is the leading peak industry body engaging with government and industry to promote the commercial and social interests of those who are certified and protect the integrity of the certified industry against fraud and misleading organics. Established in 1987 (formerly Biological Farmers of Australia [BFA]), AOL developed an organic certification scheme to independently verify that farmers and processors were producing in accord with those standards and introduced the leading organic certification ‘Bud’ logo. This symbol ensures the integrity of organic products in the marketplace for consumers and is recognised by more than 50 per cent of Australian consumers.