OrganicAgNews issue #19 20th October 2014

Welcome once again to the OrganicAg News.

It has been a while; I had an overseas trip and this issue has been in draft form for some time as I catch up on workload and also find the motivation to recommence this task. Now we are under way I would like to think we will be back to an issue every week to 10 days.

There certainly is enough good news from around the world and plenty of warning signs re the future of organics in New Zealand to fill a newsletter every day.

OrganicAg is busy with farm extension groups, training and education programmes for farms and organic service providers, linking potential exporters with product, finding new supply for processors, working with rural media to generate ‘good news’ articles supporting organic primary production and many other aspects of the sector.

It was refreshing last week to see the great excitement, balanced with dismay, that a farmer who had just spent 10 days in LA had for the organic retail sector there. He showed the gathered farmers 50+ photos of the various offerings, discussed the pricing and general feel of the range of outlets he had visited. This was then balanced with the dismay of reality here in NZ where there is uncertainty in various organic primary production sectors regarding future supply contracts, where marketers run (and defend) adverts saying insect damaged fruit is the proof of organic integrity and where those adopting biological / organic practises still see fit to speak ill of the validated biological / organic primary producer rather than stepping up to the opportunity.

When our industry leaders and politicians are calling for more ‘high value’ exports, less ‘environmental footprint’, less ‘anti-biotic’, etc. and we have a real need to double our net wharf returns (balance of overseas funds after cost of production; export return less imported production inputs).

Surely the certified organic production sector, based on export, has shown the way in all these matters.

Yet we find that for ‘environmental footprint’ in the Horizons Region organic farmers are seriously considering, and I understand one has acted, a dropping of organic status so they can increase the farms nutrient leaching level to maintain capital value (not annual profit) of the farm. Why would a farmer/business allow themselves to have restrictive licence to farm when the neighbour can have double the leaching level and in twenty years time still not need to be at a level exercised by the organic farmer today. ---Oh ---and the organic farmer is expected to reduce further in the next 5 years!

Everyone has to come down pro rata rather than a sinking lid on nutrient leaching---the higher (dirtier) you start the better you are!

Anyway to the news items from around the globe and closer to home.

MPI launch review of organic certification in NZ.

The Official Organic Assurance Programme (OOAP) Standards have been reviewed and drafts proposed. MPI is seeking feedback from interested people and organizations on the draft of OOAP Standard 1 (Recognition of Third Party Agencies and Their Personnel) and OOAP Standard 2 (Third party Agency Responsibilities).

Read the full document here-----and then make comment!

Changes at BioGro NZ Ltd.

As many of you may know, BioGro’s former CEO, Michelle Glogau has stepped down from the position. This means we are on the hunt for a new awesome CEO to lead the BioGro team. In the meantime, the role is being expertly filled by independent director and board member, Kathryn McCarrison. We are well advanced in finding a replacement for Michelle.

Check out the changes here.

Canada:Federal government invests in organic industry.

“Fifty-eight per cent of Canadians are buying organic products every week (and) there are 4,000 organic farms in Canada,” he said, adding Canada has the fourth-largest organic market in the world.

read the article here

Raw milk supporters petitioning Supreme Court.

The petitions are the result of a state appeals court ruling against Mark and Petra Zinniker, dairy farmers in Walworth County, and Grassway Organics Farm Store in New Holstein.

Full story here.

New Zealand organic pioneers place farming unit up for sale.

A sizeable landholding which is part of one of New Zealand’s oldest organic farming operations has been placed on the market for sale. The farms just north of Tolaga Bay on the East Coast and trading under the brand Kiwi Organics, have been run by the Parker family for more than 50 years – the last 23 of those under ‘certified organic’ branding. Owners Mike and Bridget Parker are former winners of the Heinz Watties Organic Farmer of the Year title.

Read about on Scoop right here.

Editor note; The farm did sell at auction, it has stayed in organic hands as a EU certified property, dropping the USDA NOP.

In April 1000 acre NOP dry-stock/dairy support farm sold from organic to non-organic, there is at this time a 800+ acre dairy support/dry-stock EU/NOP+ farm for sale in the Waikato and I am aware of at least 2 other organic (EU/NOP) dry-stock/dairy support farms that will be sold over the next 12 months.Editor.

Tawanui for sale.

The Oliver family have farmed this 800+ acres of land for 103 years, it is certified to the fullest extent of access to world organic markets and currently supports the dairy sector and organic red meat sector. It will be sold. It will most likely be sold out of organics’---so if you know someone with some capital to invest lets hear from them, OrganicAg has some parties interested in forming an equity group to buy this and other organic land. It is for tender and they close the 13 November 2014—so not much time!!

Check out the farm detail here.

With a free trade deal Australia can win China’s dairy market.

By Keith Woodford, Lincoln University,

New Zealand Global demand for internationally traded dairy products is now dominated by China. Although Australia has benefited from this, with annual dairy exports to China now worth over A$500 million, the growth......... In Australia, UHT milk is widely regarded as an inferior product, but the Chinese do not see it that way. I have seen UHT organic milk from California selling for 42.9RMB (A$7.90) a litre in top-end Beijing supermarkets.

Read about it at The Conversation here.

Organic product trends in Canada and the United States U.S.:

81% of families consume organic products. Nowadays there are 37.5 million hectares certified for production in the world, of which 2.2 million are in the U.S. and 800,000 in Canada. In 2012, global organic product sales were worth 63.8 billion. 44% was sold in the U.S. and 41% in Europe.

Visit Fresh Plaza to read.

EU organic rules may mean certified food is not truly organic.

warns ANH By Anna Bonar+, 19-Aug-2014

The Alliance for Natural Health suggests that non-organic inputs may be used in EU organic production until 31st December 2017 and call the public to action in support of true organic agriculture.

Read it here.

Opting out of organics.

Radio NZ.

Mike Moss converted to dairy farming organically 15 years ago. He opted to go organic to take pressure off the farming system, the animals and the people involved and he's enjoyed the premium Fonterra pays for organic milk. However last summer's drought meant he couldn't feed his cows and made him re-evaluate the way he'd been farming.

Read and listen to it here. Click on play to listen once at Radio NZ.

Editor note; OrganicAg facilitate (without fee’s)the supply of stored feed (hay, silage) and grazing among organic farmers. If anyone has feed to sell or anyone has a need to buy feed, OrganicAg have in the last 10 years made the links. I can not remember a situation where someone in need of feed (and having made contact) to whatever certification status has not been satisfied. I can recall ever year however certified organic feed (NOP or EU) been sold to non-organic farmers (therefore at open market value) as there was no demand for it in the organic sector.

As for last season in the Waikato, plenty of certified organic feed about—if you looked—there is still 2014 NOP hay for sale today!

It is with concern I find that many of those that no longer choose to be certified organic blame the system rather than accepting their own change in farming policy. It further frustrates the wider organic sector for them to then carry on trading on the organic farming claim----‘we are still farming organically’, we are just not certified—this does not wash, get an OrganicFarmNZ, BioGro or AQ domestic, etc. certification if you are only trading on the local market---third party verification is essential to the credibility of the organic sector.

Just several points to validate the comments above. Firstly the reason to change; I put that it is a farm (Moss) policy change to ‘supply a local market’ based on economic drivers. Lets assume the farm is doing around 40,000 kg milk solids, with Fonterra organic that would generate revenue of $42,000 above standard pay-out, now lets consider the statement that 20% (8,000 kg ms)of the milk is sold at the gate at $2 per litre (+- $20 per kg subject to solids content)this would generate some $160000 less the standard pay-out, 2013/14 $8.35 equals around $93k (above standard pay-out) and this season at maybe a $5.30 pay-out it could be $117k above standard pay-out. So with only 20% of production generating the premium revenue, gate sale raw milk will generate 2 to 3 times the Fonterra organic premium on all supply, surely a business worth doing right and putting effort into growing. I congratulate anyone for good business and this is, so why not state it as it is?

Re the concerns I express about the lack of third party validation, at this time of year many non-organic farms spray herbicide onto silage crops prior to harvest, this could end up in this (Moss) supply chain, it is stated (in radio interview) that certain practises have already been adopted that could not be used under an audited organic system, yet the claim to still be organic is made, if there is a feed pinch this season will PKE be feed? This is of no issue if the customer is aware of this, but it is not organic. Editor.

Wisconsin organic farmers pleased with USDA crackdown on false advertising.

It's certainly doesn't seem fair to both us and our customers, because when we put out our product with our organic certification, that's our promise to our customers that we're actually growing organically. So, when somebody uses the organic label without the actual certification behind it, to me that's not being honest with the consumer," says Maro.

Read it here.

Whole Foods' High-Priced Reputation May Finally Be Catching Up With It.

For years, Whole Foods has shrugged off criticism that it should be renamed "Whole Pay-check" because it is so expensive. But its high-priced reputation might finally be starting to hurt it. The grocery chain's competitors are luring shoppers away with lower prices, threatening to unlock its long stranglehold on the market for organic food, according to a new note by analysts at Wolfe Research, a New York investment research firm.

Check it out here.


Tineke Verkade of BioGro certified Homeopathic Support Ltd has volunteered to go to Tanzania to help local people with HIV Aids, for approximately 7 weeks starting at the end of October. HHA is headquartered in Moshi, Kilimanjaro, about 70 km from Arusha in northern Tanzania. The clinics are in the rural villages, some close to town and others up to an hour away from Moshi.

The government of Tanzania have totally accepted homeopathy and research is being carried out in the hospitals.

Anyone who would like to donate to Homeopathy for Health in Africa, details are on their website: or donations can be sent to Homeopathic Farm Support Ltd PO Box 9025 Hamilton 3240 and will be forwarded on to the organisation.

Many thanks,


Website of issue;

The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) supports organic integrity by providing organic certifiers, growers, manufacturers, and suppliers an independent review of products intended for use in certified organic production, handling, and processing. OMRI is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 1997. When companies apply, OMRI reviews their products against the organic standards. Acceptable products are OMRI Listed® and appear on the OMRI Products List© or OMRI Canada Products List©. OMRI also provides technical support and training for professionals in the organic industry.

Quote of issue.

"You look at what GM science might be able to do and you look at what the organic movement is trying to achieve and they're pretty much the same thing - it's how you get there that's different."

Dr William Rolleston, President Federated Farmers NZ. July 2014.

Read it in full by clicking here.


I would like to acknowledge support and encouragment from Natural Sugars NZ Ltd in keeping the OrganicAgNews in front of you. If in need of organic sugar, molasses or other products check them out.

Until next issue,

Regards, Bill Quinn,

Organic Promotions.

R.D.4 Paeroa. 3674.

Organics'---integrity through transparency!