The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) has undertaken a public consultation process on how to improve Australia’s domestic organic regulatory framework. This included consideration of potential regulatory and non-regulatory options for reform, with a view to better understanding the sector, supporting industry growth, and improving consumer confidence.
In the first tranche of consultations, DAWE received:
- Over 100 submissions to an online industry business survey
- Over 500 responses to a targeted phone survey of organic operators
- Over 1000 responses to an online consumer survey
- Over 100 businesses invited to industry roundtables, with 6 industry roundtables completed and ongoing 1:1 meetings.
DAWE has now concluded a second tranche of public engagement, involving a consultation regulation impact statement which received 76 submissions.
Through this process there was an opportunity for everyone to have their say which has allowed us to consider all views, measure the full scale of regulatory impacts, and gain a thorough understanding of the sector.
Advice is now being provided to Government for consideration.
In early 2021, Minister Littleproud appointed an Organics Industry Advisory Group, drawing on a cross‑section of the organics supply chain, including organic producers, bio-dynamic producers, manufacturers, farmers markets, retailers, certifiers, consumers, importers and exporters.
The group met throughout the first half of 2021 and provided advice on how to improve the domestic organic regulatory framework, which the government is now considering. The advisory group reconvened in December 2021 and will continue to provide advice and facilitate broad consultation across the organics supply chain. The members are:
- David Stout – National Retail Association
- Don Lazzaro – Pure Harvest
- Dr Gail Pearson, Honorary Professor of Business Law - Consumer Law Expert and representative of the Consumers’ Federation of Australia
- Ian King – AUS-QUAL
- Jane Adams – Australian Farmers’ Markets Association
- Kelvin Free – Mallee Organics and Wattle Organic Farms
- Marg Will – Organic Systems and Solutions
- Niki Ford – Australian Organic Limited
- Paul da Silva – Arcadian Organic and Natural Meat Co
- Peter Hislop Speers – Organic Industries of Australia
- Quentin Kennedy – Kialla Pure Foods and Aus Organic Feeds
- Rick McDougal – ACO Certification Limited
- Ryan Reynolds – The Organic Milk Company
- Sue Armstrong – Bio-Dynamic Research Institute
- Vanya Cullen – Cullen Wines
- Victoria Angove – Angove Family Winemakers
Questions and answers
There is no single recognised standard for domestic use and there is no requirement for certification of organic products produced and sold domestically in Australia.
Organic businesses can choose to be certified by an organic certification body to underpin truth in labelling requirements and promote consumer confidence.
Australian Consumer Law provides general protections against misleading, false and deceptive conduct, which can address misrepresentations about labels on goods supplied to consumers. Under the ACL, consumers can make complaints to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Products for export that make an organic claim must be certified by an Australian Government approved certifying body against the National Standard for Organic and Bio‑dynamic Produce.
While Australia currently has strong controls in place for the production and export of organic food and products, there is no mandatory standard that is applied to products destined for Australia’s domestic market.
Fit-for-purpose regulation may provide greater efficiencies in the way industry operates and a framework to support industry growth.
The purpose of consultation is to consider options for domestic regulation, this may result in changes to align the export regulatory arrangements. Noting this, the department will seek industry views on any alignment of domestic and export organic certification arrangements as part of the upcoming consultations.
For information on the organic export regulatory framework see Exporting organic and bio-dynamic goods from Australia.