NZ govt should follow USDA lead on organics, says industry association -

NZ govt should follow USDA lead on organics, says industry association

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NZ govt should follow USDA lead on organics, says industry association

Organic Exporters of New Zealand executive director Rick Carmont has told his country should follow in the footsteps of the U.S. with government-backed organic industry targets.

"The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) has a policy on all aspects and it's part of their strategy to have promotion, marketing and goals; they have criteria with targets they have to meet, and one of those is to increase the number of organic operators by 20% in 2015," he says.

"New Zealand stands alone as a country that has no policy on organics and that doesn't help in the ministries of government when it comes to organic issues - New Zealand did some seed funding in 2002 but it didn't get through until 2006 but it only went for a few years and then it stopped."

"There's absolutely a lack of vision from the government."

He says this has to change if the country wants to genuinely promote its clean and green image abroad.

"I think it's more than realistic, it's essential that a government that promotes its clean and green image has a policy for the only regulated cleanest and greenest industry there is, and that's organic farming," he says.

"We have US$220 million in organic exports annually at the moment and horticulture is around 47% of that - it is the largest organic area by values and continued increases.

He says New Zealand's organic produce is "held in high regard" internationally and there were seven organizations from the country at the recent Biofach trade fair in Germany.

"Germany is the largest market for organic apples from New Zealand, which are mostly Demeter organic," he says.

In terms of the recent organic equivalency arrangement between the U.S. and the E.U., he says New Zealand has had a similar arrangement with the latter for the last 10 years.

However, New Zealand still does not have a full equivalency arrangement with the U.S. There has been a recognition arrangement in terms of the policing of organic certification, but not yet in standards."

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