Organic food reforms: MPI seeks feedback on enforcable rules

Spread the love

The Ministry for Primary Industries is asking for feedback on proposed reforms to the organic sector.

organic produce

MPI policy spokesperson Fiona Duncan said the the new requirements aimed to strike a balance between providing certainty that businesses were meeting organic standards and ensuring the costs to those businesses were reasonable (file image). Photo: Unsplash / Kate Trysh

With producers able to choose from a range of voluntary standards to label their food as “organic”, the government is working to introduce a single set of rules it says will be enforceable and will help boost consumer confidence in organic products.

In a discussion document released yesterday, MPI put forward a plan for how that could be achieved. As part of the changes, growers would need to have an organic management plan and have their operations verified by MPI before they would be allowed to make organic claims about their products.

MPI policy spokesperson Fiona Duncan said the new requirements aimed to strike a balance between providing certainty that businesses were meeting organic standards and ensuring the costs to those businesses were reasonable.

READ ALSO:  Undersized pāua and illegally gathered cockles seized

“With these proposals, consumers would be better able to tell which products are organic and make more informed choices about what they buy,” Duncan said.

Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor said he wanted the new regime to be workable and encouraged those involved in the sector to give feedback.

“We’ve had a good, robust organic sector but what we’ve failed to have is one single standard… when we’re exporting products to different markets that we can refer to as being credible and consistent,” O’Connor said.

“The legislation and the regulations that we’ve put out for draft consultation are part of that process.”

Systems used by organic producers did not necessarily meet all international standards, he said.

“Food Safety New Zealand or MPI, the accrediting agency, needs to step in so that the government endorses the organic standard.”

Industry supportive but wants more detail

A group advocating for the organics sector said the proposed regime was a step in the right direction, but still left some questions unanswered.

READ ALSO:  'Let it be known, these tears are not for you': Massey's 2020 quote of the year

Organics Aotearoa New Zealand chair Chris Morrison said regulation was needed to protect consumers and reward growers, but he was worried the $600 million sector would shoulder the burden.

No caption

Organics Aotearoa New Zealand chairperson Chris Morrison. Photo: RNZ /Susan Strongman

“There’s some unknowns and one of the big ones is ‘what is the cost going to be to the sector and to growers?’,” Morrison said.

“It is an expensive process growing organically and there are costs there for sure with the certification and we don’t want to see extra cost added in there because it’s difficult enough as it is.”

Morrison said he appreciated MPI offering some support to mitigate the costs of meeting new criteria, but he wanted more detail on what that would cover.

He agreed with O’Connor that having clearer standards would be “very positive” for organics exporters.

“We’re just wanting to work with MPI to get it right, and make sure there aren’t any fish hooks along the way, but we are supportive,” Morrison said.

READ ALSO:  Penguin of the Year 2020: who is in the running?

 278 

RECOMMENDED READ:
The Ihumtao land deal is ‘illegal’ before Parliament approves it, according to the Auditor-General.

Since the ministry did not obtain the required permits for using the $29.9 million, the government would have to pass Read more

House prices continue to rise, according to the recent QV Quarterly Index.

According to new housing price data, the average price of entry-level houses in Ruapehu has risen by more than 70% Read more

The RSE seasonal migrant worker scheme does not help the economy, according to a survey.

A survey has called into question the importance of migrant labour and the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme, concluding that Read more

Covid-19: A worker at Auckland Airport tests positive, as well as one previous case

According to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, the Auckland Airport staff who tested positive for Covid-19 cleans planes from Covid-19-infected areas Read more

Leave a Reply