22 March, 2023

Kialla Foods, Nationals leader want domestic regulation of organics industry

Quentin Kennedy, owner of the successful Greenmount organic food producer, Kialla Foods, believes the Federal Labor government’s decision to abandon domestic regulation of organics is handicapping his ability, and those of other Australian organic producers, to grow their export markets because lack of domestic regulation results in a dual system that is unworkable and costly.

Katrina Hobbs from Inglewood Farms, Australian Organic Limited CEO Niki Ford, Kialla Foods owner Quentin Kennedy and Leader of The Nationals David Littleproud.
Katrina Hobbs from Inglewood Farms, Australian Organic Limited CEO Niki Ford, Kialla Foods owner Quentin Kennedy and Leader of The Nationals David Littleproud.

Mr Kennedy and Nationals Leader and Member for Maranoa David Littleproud voiced their strong concern over the Federal Government’s Agricultural Minister Murray Watt’s abandonment of the previous Federal government’s  plan to regulate the organics industry.

“The former National and Liberal government had started a pathway to setting an Australian standard for the organics industry, worth over $2 billion annually, by setting up an industry - lead advisory group, which laid down the pathway to complete this reform,” Mr Littleproud said.

“A consistent National Standard is critical in opening up new export opportunities while protecting our international reputation against unscrupulous exporters, who attempt to send inferior products to our international markets as organics.

“A National Organic Standard would also manage the import of organic products into Australia, which  currently is not required to be certified or comply with any particular standard.”

Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt, in response to a question from Niki Ford, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Organic Limited, asking why he hadn’t carried on the work to establish a domestic  regulation of organics, said, ”Since taking on my ministerial responsibilities, my immediate focus has been on the most pressing of challenges for my portfolio, namely biosecurity, natural disaster preparedness and response, and agricultural workforce concerns.”  

Mr Littleproud said the role of Agricultural Minister required the Minister to have greater capacity than being able to focus on just a few areas of the portfolio.

“The Albanese government is turning its back on an industry - lead solution and framework that has widespread industry support, all because its Minister doesn’t have the capacity to finish the process,” Mr Littleproud said.

Kialla Foods owner Quentin Kennedy said as a business which has exports of over 40 per cent, primarily into Japan and Korea, the lack of equivalence was costing export sales every day.

“If we had equivalence with Korea we could grow that market 10 to 15 per cent year-on-year, Mr Kennedy said.

Katrina Hobbs of organic chicken producers Inglewood Farms also explained some of the frustrations resulting from a lack of domestic regulation of organics.

She explained the logistical nightmare of packaging products for a variety of markets with different regulations. 

Ms Hobbs also explained that when you have a number of suppliers in a supply chain, it only takes one supplier without certification to limit the capacity of the others.

“The Agricultural Department needs to listen to producers,” she said.

Niki Ford is the CEO of Australian Organic Limited, the leading  peak body for the Australian organic industry whose main aim is the protection and promotion of the Australian organic industry.

Ms Ford also supported the need for domestic regulation of the organics industry. 

She said in Australia the word “organic” can now be used easily creating unfair competition with varying degrees of compliance.


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