You can read more about the bill and how to make a submission below.
What is proposed?
Currently in New Zealand there are no nationally consistent standards as to what is considered organic. Standards for what constitutes an organic product can vary and are developed and administered by non-government organisations (including State Owned Enterprises such as AsureQuality, or BioGro).
The government has introduced the Organic Products Bill to provide nationally consistent organic standards and regulation to: increase domestic and international consumer confidence in New Zealand organic product declarations, to increase organic business certainty, and to protect and support our international trade in organic products.
The bill allows for government organic standards to be introduced for products (including dairy products) and would require businesses who describe their product as organic to meet these standards.
It allows for the creation of a national mark (or logo) for organic products which meet the standard and for the creation of a public register of organic businesses. Most organic dairy farms will need to be approved as organic producers and will need to undergo regular compliance checks.
Under the bill, businesses may not describe their product as organic unless they comply with regulations and meet the new standards, once they are in effect. Business who refer to their products as organic but don’t meet the requirements would be breaching the new law.
Having a government organic standard may add costs for organic farmers but it is expected that it will also add to the market premium paid for these organic products due to the increased assurance. This is particularly true for export products in international markets with stringent criteria for organic products.
When will the new standards be introduced?
The Organic Products Bill will change the law to allow the government to pass regulations and standards for product categories such as organic dairy products. These new regulations and standards won’t be created until after the Bill becomes law.
We expect there will be further consultation with the primary sector before standards for organic dairy farms become a requirement. As part of the consultation on standards the government will consider existing voluntary standards that are currently in use and may adopt these in part, or as a whole, to help develop their standard.
It’s likely that the standards won’t take effect immediately when they are introduced but will allow some time for businesses to put in place steps to comply with the new standards.
What do I have to do under the bill?
As discussed above, this Bill allows the government to create new organic standards and businesses will need to comply with these new standards if they want to describe their product as organic.
The requirements would differ based on the revenue of the business or farm. Requirements will be specified in regulations but may include: businesses may need to become an approved organic producer, maintain an organic plan and keep records showing their compliance with the plan, and may be subject to compliance checks and visits.
As discussed above, there are likely to be fees associated with being approved and there is the ability for the government to introduce an organic sector levy in the Bill.
Should I make a submission?
DairyNZ is preparing a submission on behalf of organic dairy farmers, and will be seeking input from organic dairy farmer representative groups to help inform our submission.
If you wish to share your views with DairyNZ please get in contact with Paul Melville, National Policy Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also make a submission on the Bill if you want to share your views with the government.
Submissions close on 28 May 2020. You can read more about the bill here.
To make a submission click here.