OANZ News -  18th February 2011

OANZ News -  18th February 2011

It's hard to believe that OANZ only came into being in March 2006. In five short years we have achieved an enormous amount. The Organic Advisory Programme (OAP) was delivered and helped treble the amount of land in New Zealand under organic management.

We have achieved recognition and credibility as the combined voice of the organic sector and we have seen the primary production establishment accept organics as a serious and valid alternative to current conventional production.

We have also embedded the organic awards as an annual recognition of innovation and excellence, conducted road shows and seminars and been seen and accepted at fieldays, seminars and conferences across the primary production sector.

The progress made in just a few years has, I believe, been exceptional and would not have been possible without the recognition and funding provided by Government through our contract with the Ministry of Economic Development and as a sector we acknowledge that contribution.

I believe that in return the sector has provided valuable public good benefits to New Zealand through our demonstration that there is an environmentally sustainable alternative to current, ultimately destructive, conventional farming techniques.

From the Chairman - Derek Broadmore

The future of OANZ...

From June this year we will have to make our own way as an organisation without the Government help we have had over the last 5 years. Over the next few months the wider organic sector will be asked to consider what value it places on the leadership and advocacy role that OANZ performs because it will be the sector itself that will now largely become responsible for the ongoing support of OANZ.

Last year an organic working group, appointed by the OANZ Council, spent time reflecting on and consulting over the future of OANZ. The working group suggested structural changes to the organisation to streamline its decision making processes and to keep it in close touch with its grass roots. Those changes were implemented at the AGM in November. The second part of the working groups recommendations were about ongoing funding.

The OANZ Council has accepted the working group recommendation that we pursue the concept of a voluntary levy on licensees to help fund our ongoing work. Over the next few months we will be endeavouring to consult as widely as possible on this idea. We are also investigating ways in which organic consumers may be able to contribute.

I am very conscious that there are already heavy financial demands on licensees and they will not welcome a further cost. However, I also believe that most organic producers are committed to what they do, not only as a means of livelihood, but also because they strongly believe that a change to sustainable production is essential for our longer term survival. For this reason I am sure that organic producers and consumers will commit to supporting OANZ as the organisation that will continue to drive this change. Please take the time during this consultation period to listen to what is proposed and to give us your own views and feedback.

I also need to let you know that unfortunately, for personal reasons, Heather Atkinson has had to step down at short notice from her role managing OANZ. As you will see below we are seeking a replacement as well as someone to help move our funding plans forward. If you feel that you have the time and skills necessary for either of these roles then please let us know.

Job opportunities with OANZ

Organics Aotearoa New Zealand is now recruiting for two new positions. They are both fixed term contracts for 14 weeks.

1. Business Manager
This is a fixed term contract with an immediate start to finish on July 10, 2011. You will be required to work 32 hours per week from a Wellington base.

Your role is to provide leadership as the principal officer of OANZ, responsible for the overall management and administration of the organisation. You must have a good understanding of the organic sector. A detailed job description can be obtained from david@biodynamic.org.nz. Applications close on February 25, 2011 with the OANZ Chair Derek Broadmore, email derek@estamore.co.nz.

2. Project Manager Future Funding
We are seeking a Project Manager, with a good knowledge of our unique sector, to assist us to secure the financial future of our organisation. This is a fixed term 14 week contract with an immediate start.

You will be required to work 20 hours per week from a Wellington base. Your role is to consult and gain support for a voluntary levy for OANZ from the organic sector, and to scope the potential for other funding including a consumer supported income stream.

A detailed job description can be obtained from david@biodynamic.org.nz. Applications close on March 2, 2011 with the OANZ Chair Derek Broadmore, email derek@estamore.co.nz.

Stonyfield Farm CE-YO to speak in NZ

Gary Hirshberg, who played a leading role in the recent movie 'Food Inc' and is chairman, president and CE-YO of Stonyfield Farm, the world's largest organic yoghurt producer, is to speak in Wellington next week.

Since 1983, Mr Hirshberg has overseen Stonyfield's phenomenal growth, from its infancy as a seven-cow organic farming school to its current $360 million in annual sales. Stonyfield has enjoyed a compounded annual growth rate of over 24% for more than eighteen years, by using innovative marketing techniques that blend the company's social, environmental, and financial missions.

Mr Hirshberg's visit to New Zealand coincides with ongoing controversy within the organic sector in the United States over the approval of GM alfalfa by the USDA last month. Stonyfield Farm has been accused of being part of an 'organic elite' along with Organic Valley and Whole Foods, which are seen by some as having 'sold out' to Monsanto over GM alfalfa.

Both Stonyfield and Organic Valley contend, however, that they have been extremely active in the fight against GM alfalfa, and had little choice but to push for the USDA's "conditional deregulation coexistence" option for the crop - i.e. deregulation along with certain safeguards for the organic community.

Mr Hirshberg is to speak at a function at the Backbencher, 34 Molesworth Street, Thorndon on Wednesday February 23, from 4.30pm to 6.30pm. RSVP by February 22 to heather.atkinson@oanz.org.nz or 04 890 3769.

Premium organic beauty care for 'every day women'

When Elizabeth Barbalich launched the Antipodes skin care range from her Wellington home in 2005, she had a simple vision - to create premium organic products that could be used by "every day women".

In the years since then, Antipodes has taken off as an award-winning brand and is now recognised in Europe, Asia, America, and Australia, as well as New Zealand.

Its range of certified organic and natural skincare products are based on avocado oil and native New Zealand plant extracts.

Currently eight Antipodes products have certified organic status through AsureQuality. Some of the key ingredients used include certified organic extra virgin avocado oil, kawakawa (a native tree used in traditional Maori medicine), mamaku black fern, manuka honey and pohutukawa.

Elizabeth says it is "extremely challenging" to create certified organic skincare products and ensure a stable supply.

She notes, "The complexities around what you're allowed in an organic product are very different from what you're allowed in a non-organic product. There's very strict criteria."

But she adds, "We take the trouble because (certified organic ingredients) are superior in purity, function and efficacy - not just for the sake of marketing."

Elizabeth began her career as a scientist before discovery nauropathy, which she studied to become a qualified naturopath.  She also began exploring the benefits of traditional Maori medicine.

It wasn't long before she began combining these interests to start creating her own natural skincare products from her kitchen table. And after some dedicated research and development with a cosmetic chemist, Antipodes launched on the market with seven products. The range has nearly tripled since, with several more products for both women and men in development.

Antipodes now exports to eight countries, including South Korea, where there are three Antipodes-branded stores, Hong Kong, the UK, Italy, France, Slovenia and Australia - as well as selling its products in 120 stores throughout New Zealand.

Turnover is between $3 million and $6m, and the company has about 30 people working on the brand globally.

Elizabeth says, "My original desire continues to inspire me - to bring to the market premium certified organic and natural products from fully sustainable sources, which can be used every day by everyday women."

The scientific validation of products is a key point of difference for Antipodes.

Elizabeth explains, "Science and research is our number one priority - and a selling point. We will be one of the first companies to produce scientifically-validated anti-ageing products made from certified organic, unique New Zealand ingredients such as manuka honey."

A recent grant of more than $200,000 from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology is enabling Antipodes to look into the way plant materials affect the ageing of the skin. The substances being researched include totara, tea tree and grape seed. One result of the research has already proved very promising - manuka honey and an antioxidant from grape seed stimulated the collagen in the skin up to 92%. More results of the research will be published soon.

West Australian GM case critical for future of organics in Australia

The West Australian Minister for Agriculture, Terry Redman, wants to redefine "organic" to accommodate genetic engineering. The move has been prompted by a legal battle brewing after Steve Marsh, an organic farmer from Kojonup, was stripped of his organic certification because GM material was found to have contaminated 70% of his wheat and oats.

A year earlier, the West Australian government approved commercialisation of GM, or ''Roundup Ready', canola.

Mr Marsh has lost his organic premium of up to $800 per tonne and faces a minimum five-year wait before his crops can be re-certified organic. He is seeking compensation from the state government and Monsanto.

Mr Redman says organic standards are to blame for Mr Marsh's financial loss. He says if the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia (NASAA), Australia's main organic certifying agency, was willing to allow GM crops to be labelled as organic, there would be no problem. The Minister is urging Mr Marsh to petition NASAA to relax its standards.

But NASAA is not willing to accept the Minister's advice. Instead, it has started a legal fund for Mr Marsh to help him fight his case. The case is critical for the organic sector in Australia. Some commentators suggest if Monsanto wins, Australia's organic industry is likely finished.

Click on the image at left to see a video interview with Steve Marsh, as he explains how the GM contamination happened on his farm.

Or go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=6033mIF8cq8

GM alfalfa threatens future of organic meat and dairy in US

Organic groups in the United States are warning that certified organic milk and dairy products could eventually be wiped out as a result of Monsanto's recently-approved GM alfalfa.

Groups such as the Center for Food Safety, the Northeast Organic Farming Association and the National Organic Coalition believe the spread of pollen and seed from GM alfalfa might eliminate the US supply of organic alfalfa. The organic dairy industry in the US depends upon organic alfalfa.

Late last month, the US Department of Agriculture approved the commercial release of GM alfalfa, which is glyphosate-tolerant. California farmers took special notice of the USDA decision, because California is the largest dairy-producing state and one of the largest alfalfa producers.

The Organic Farming Research Foundation predicts that alfalfa will follow corn and soybeans to become so commonly contaminated with GM genes that organic farmers can no longer cultivate it.

NZ's organic vineyards on the rise

Nearly 1500 hectares of vines on 115 vineyards are now managed organically in New Zealand - representing 4.5% percent of all vineyards.

Three years ago Organic Winegrowers had only eight members, and now it has 160. Market demand and a push toward greater sustainability is driving this huge expansion of organic wine production.

Organic Winegrowers Chair James Millton says its goal of 20% of New Zealand vineyards being organic by 2020 is within reach.

Meanwhile, Mission Estate in Hawke's Bay, the oldest winery in New Zealand, is trialling a switch to organic with a three-year pilot project running conventional and organic grape blocks side-by-side.

Viticulturist Caine Thompson says the project will compare the merits of organic production with conventional methods.

Growers nationwide can watch the trial unfold through field days, and online at http://organicfocusvineyard.com.

Demand for organic food in supermarkets is growing

A new report in the Bay of Plenty shows shoppers are increasingly seeking out organic foods in supermarkets and specialist health food stores, mainly due to a desire to eliminate toxins from their diet.

The report, in The Bay of Plenty Times this week, quotes James Redwood, owner of Good Earth Organics in Tauranga, as saying turnover has increased 20% in the 18 months since he bought the shop.

Mr Redwood says his typical customer is a "middle-class housewife" shopping for her family, who is interested in better health.

He says customers tell him they are worried about the negative long-term effect of eating toxic chemicals in their food.

At City Markets in Tauranga, organic food now accounts for 25% of all sales. Owner Gary Warner says organics were introduced to the store in 2004 but have "really taken off" in the last couple of years.

In addition to the certified organic produce in the shop, City Markets also has a selection of "spray-free" products. Mr Warner describes spray-free as "in between" organic and non-organic, and the products are periodically tested.

BioFach 2011 focuses on feeding the world

More than 2500 exhibitors are taking part in this year's BioFach World Organic Trade Fair in Nuremberg. The event opened on Wednesday and finishes tomorrow.

The theme this year is geared to the question of how the world's population can be fed using organic and ecological production methods. Unlike the mainstream food industry, the organic sector is certain - organics can feed the world. This is also confirmed by the World Agriculture Report.

The message of BioFach 2011 is that the right way is not expansion, mass production or genetic engineering, but a sustainable, organic method of farming, a policy of real prices and a diet based on organically produced food.

USDA uncovers scheme to import fake Chinese organic food

The US Department of Agriculture has released evidence of attempted fraud by a Chinese organic agricultural marketer.

The agency says the Chinese firm used a counterfeit certificate to represent non-organic crops, including soybeans, millet and buckwheat, as certified organic.

Ecocert, a French certifying agent whose name was illegally used on the fraudulent document, brought the issue to the attention of officials from the USDA's National Organic Program.

The Cornucopia Institute, which has been warning for several years about the risk of fraudulent organic produce from China, has applauded the USDA's announcement. In a 2009 report, the Cornucopia Institute estimated as much as half the organic soybeans in the US came from overseas, primarily China.

Organic soybeans imported from China have become a prevalent source of animal feed used on industrial-scale organic livestock operations in the US.

The Cornucopia Institute has called on responsible industry players, farmers, feed mills, processors and retailers, to place an immediate moratorium on commodities imported from China. In a statement, it added, "Even if the authenticity of Chinese organics can be proven, shipping food around the world, and undercutting sustainable prices for domestic farmers, is not 'organic' in the eyes of many consumers."

Certificate in Applied Organics and Biodynamics

Taruna College is now taking enrolments for its two winter intakes for the Certificate in Applied Organics and Biodynamics, starting on April 8 and 28.

The certificate course is over 32 weeks part-time. It includes three full-time eight-day seminars on-site, supported by home-based study. The award-winning programme covers a foundation in organics and biodynamics over a range of agricultural and horticultural environments, including:
the living soil, integrated farm systems, animal management, astronomy, orcharding and viticulture, and biodynamic preparations.

The certificate is approved by NZQA and the Tertiary Education Commission. Student loans are available.

For further information contact Korina on 06 877 7174, email info@taruna.ac.nz  or visit www.taruna.ac.nz.

'Green Living' magazine latest issue

The latest issue of Green Living magazine is now available at www.organicexpo.co.nz.

The magazine is being published in the lead-up to the NZ Organic Expo and Green Living Show in Auckland in May.

This issue includes a feature article on Mike and Bridget Parker of Kiwi Organics.

Diary these dates

March 12, 2011. 'Patch from Scratch'. Starting Your Home Garden. One day Biodynamic Gardening Workshop at Taruna, 33 Te Mata Peak Road, Havelock North. With Rachel Pomeroy & Peter Proctor. Course fee: $35. More information: Korina phone. 06 877 7174, email info@taruna.ac.nz  or visit www.taruna.ac.nz.

March 19, 2011. Organic Pest & Disease Control with Hamish Kelland, Christchurch. Seven Oaks Organics. More information: Marian on 021 2400 416 or 03 381 4028 or email marianchick@gmail.com.

April 1-2, 2011. A Greener Way, Sustainable Living Field Days. Ashhurst Domain, Manawatu.
World renowned speakers, hands-on workshops, biological farming systems, organic products, music, entertainment and more. Entry by Donation. Registrations are now open. More information: Barbara Hanss-Meleises, Phone 06 329 9543, agreenerway@hotmail.co.nz or visit www.maifarm.org.nz.

April 23, 2011. Apple Tasting Day. Treedimensions Orchard, 58 Shaggery Road, Westbank, Motueka. After almost 30 years of trialling a range of over 200 apple varieties, this privately funded research project is being drawn to conclusion. There will be over 100 apple varieties for sampling. It is important to book, as numbers are limited. More information: Dieter Proebst, Phone 03 528 8718
Email orchard@treedimensions.co.nz.

May 23-25, 2011. Permaculture in NZ. National Hui. Riverside Community, Motueka. More information from info@permaculture.org.nz or www.permaculture.org.nz.

May 28-29, 2011. NZ Organic Expo and Green Living Show 2011. Alexandra Park, Green Lane, Auckland. The first show of its kind in New Zealand, the Organic Expo is a consumer and trade show. More information at www.organicexpo.co.nz. Tina Raines 09 521 2499 email: tinaraines@greenlivingnework.co.nz.

Organics News Roundup

UK producers say they stand alone as DEFRA rules out cash for organics
FoodManufacture.co.uk 11/02/2011

The UK Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has ruled out financial support for the organic industry, despite producers saying they stand alone and a Soil Association report damning Whitehall's "diffident, if not lazy" approach.

In 'The Lazy Man of Europe', the Soil Association says that a passive approach from successive UK governments - reacting to consumer demand for organics rather than promoting a £2bn industry like other EU administrations - is at least partially to blame for an 13.6% overall sales dip in 2009.

Conversely, 2009 sales in Germany remained stable while French and Italian sales grew sharply, and the Soil Asociation said that proactive measures from other EU nations - whether on a fiscal or legislative basis - had spurred growth; the UK's £2m 'Why I Love Organic Campaign' that began this January is wholly industry funded. More...http://www.foodmanufacture.co.uk/Business-News/UK-producers-say-they-stand-alone-as-DEFRA-rules-out-cash-for-organics

Organic status alone won't sell products, farmers told
Farmers Weekly (UK) 11/02/2011

Organic farmers should find alternative ways to promote their produce rather than assume consumers will buy food because of its organic status, according to a retail expert.

Edward Garner, communications director at market research company Kantar, said varied consumer understanding of what organic production meant the industry should highlight the produce's provenance and taste if it wanted sales of organic produce to increase.

"If you stop people in the street and talk about fair trade, you might not get a textbook answer, but you get a positive response about what fair trade means," he told delegates at the Soil Association's annual conference in Manchester.

"Organic is much more tricky. It either gets a positive response from people who 'get it', but you can get people who are hostile towards it.

"The dilemma for organic is that you can have a niche approach and have a strong appeal to a small number of people, or you can be in the mass market, competing on taste, providence and so on."

Mr Garner said a downturn in sales of organic produce during the recession showed that many people did not see the benefits of organic and were not willing to pay a premium for something they did not really understand.

"Successful organic companies are the ones that haven't relied on their organic status to sell produce," he added. More...http://www.fwi.co.uk/Articles/2011/02/11/125467/Organic-status-alone-won39t-sell-products-farmers.htm

You can follow OANZ on Twitter at www.twitter.com/OANZ  and keep up with the latest news on organics from around NZ and the world.

The individual comments and views in this newsletter do not necessarily represent the view of OANZ.

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Phone: 0800 FUTURE;  Email: info@oanz.org.nz;   Website: www.oanz.org.nz

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