Ensuring the continued success of organic exports

The Australian Government is proposing new rules to continue to provide a basis for the regulation of organic exports, and as a first step in strengthening and simplifying the current framework.

Head of Exports Division, Fran Freeman said Australia’s organic products are meeting the growing demand for high-quality organic agricultural produce around the world. A fit-for-purpose regulatory system would enable organic operators to harness these 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.

“Instead of treating the export of organic products separately from the rest of our agricultural exporters, we are looking to explore ways to better align organic exports rules with the regulations that apply to other export commodities.

“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.

“With a considered approach to organic exports regulation reform, we can uphold our reputation as a reliable trading partner with internationally recognised high standards.”

The current export regulations—Export Control (Organic Produce Certification) Orders—will no longer apply from 1 April 2021.

Funding flows in for Western Australia’s wine regions

Western Australia’s wine regions are receiving funding from the Australian government.

A $2-million marketing campaign to boost international visits to Western Australia’s wine regions received support from the Australian Government’s $50 million Export and Regional Wine Support Package, a network of WA Government and sector partners.

Wines of WA has secured $1 million in funding through the International Wine Tourism State Grants program and $1m in matching state funds, through a consortium of state government agencies and tourism, agricultural and regional bodies.

Wine Australia chief executive officer, Andreas Clark, said the Wines of WA application was approved by the Australian Government following assessment by an independent expert assessment panel.

READ: Four of the five largest markets for Australian wine exports have grown in value

“The $5m state grants program aims to maximise the wine sector’s impact on state economies – it’s about driving collaborative, strategic wine tourism initiatives that attract international visitors to our wine regions,” said Clark.

Wines of WA was working with the Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Tourism WA and their counterparts in the wine, trade and agriculture sectors to cross promote WA’s wine, food and tourism destinations and experiences, he said.

Wines of WA collaborative wine tourism strategy aligns with the existing Western Australian Wine Industry Strategic Plan 2014–2024, which aims to double wine exports to $100m by 2021.

Wines of WA chief executive officer, Larry Jorgensen, said the investment plan was built around four key areas – in-region and inter-region collaboration with key sector partners, wine tourism product development, a comprehensive suite of digital marketing tools and partnerships with tourism operators and agencies.

“The aim is to build on the strong brand of regional hotspots like Margaret River and create new wine tourism experiences in other regions to extend tourists’ spend and length of stay in WA”, said Jorgensen.

The $5 million International Wine Tourism State Grants program requires applicants to provide matching funding on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

Oyster farmers anticipate boost in business with new finance plan

Oyster farmers are hoping for greater investment with the release of a new financial strategy.

The strategy, supported by the government’s farming together program, was endorsed by Ocean Watch and the NSW Farmers Oyster Committee.

It is made up of five documents including, industry factsheets and templates, to help address industry priorities.

The aim is to improve the sector’s ability to secure bank and other sources of finance.

READ: NSW gov finds pearl in oyster industry

Kel Henry from Wonboyn Rock Oysters, who is a member of the Oyster Strategy Implementation Group, said this priority stemmed from the finance sectors’ lack of awareness and understanding about the oyster industry and its potential for growth.

He approached the Australian government’s farming together program and developed a finance support pack with consultant, Mel Trethowan.

“It was great to work with Mel on the project. I would recommend the farming together program as a very valuable initiative and in my opinion the outcome for our industry was really outstanding,” he said.

The materials in the pack would help educate the finance industry about the oyster industry and its investment potential, said Henry.

“It will also increase the ability of farmers to access appropriate and timely finance to upgrade, innovate and grow their businesses,” he said.

Farming together program director Lorraine Gordon said it was an enabling project strongly supported by the producers and their wider industry.

“We hope it will encourage new interest and offer new paths to capital from banks and investors.”

The $13.8 million program was designed to help agricultural groups secure premium pricing, scale-up production and attract capital investment.

In two years the farming together program has had contact with more than 28,500 farmers.

In its first year the program turned a $9.21m investment into $20.45m of value-added production, creating 131 full-time equivalent jobs.

The farming together pilot program was delivered by Southern Cross University. It finished on the 30th of June 2018.

Plans in place to grow garlic produced on Australian soil

Australia’s garlic industry has developed a new framework to push the quality and amount of garlic grown on Australian soil.

Only about 20 per cent of garlic sold in Australia is grown domestically.

With the Farming Together program, growers aim to expand production of late-season garlic to meet market demand from April to November – a time when Australia normally imports garlic.

One of the project leaders, grower Bronwyn Richards, said Australia didn’t don’t grow enough garlic to meet demand in its own country.

Garlic was a crop well-suited to small-scale cultivation, often as a diversified crop alongside other primary production, said Richards.

A co-op of 30 garlic growers from Braidwood, NSW, developed a simple model for judging the quality of garlic presented for sale.

It supports growers to grow to that standard.

The program, backed by the Australian Government, supports small-scale growers meeting a demand for Australian-grown, chemical-free garlic.

“The aim for Braidwood is to eventually be a key growing area for some of these later varieties of garlic that like our cold climate,” said Richards.

“The development of a quality framework is a first in our industry.

“It documents how quality can be defined, judged and achieved. We have also developed a simple and easy-to-apply biosecurity plan that could be used by any garlic grower,” she said.

“It will help raise industry awareness of biosecurity issues across all stages of growing and moving garlic.

“Additionally, we believe the financial model developed for our project is scalable and has application to other co-operatives. The model can be contextualised for other industries and co-operative business structures.”

Involvement in the Farming Together program delivered immediate financial benefits to the group, said Richards.

Retail prices improved for the crop, and with a bulk purchase of mulch straw the group was saving $50 a bale.

Farming Together program director Lorraine Gordon said the project delivered learnings that would benefit the whole industry.

The program has been a two-year, $13.8m initiative from the Australian Government designed to help agricultural groups value-add, secure premium pricing, scale-up production, attract capital investment, earn new markets or secure lower input costs.

In two years Farming Together has had contact with more than 28,500 farmers.

The Farming Together pilot program was delivered by Southern Cross University and finished on 30 June 2018.