Overview of Organic Farming in Tasmania


What is Organic Farming?

Organic farming is farming without the use of synthetic chemicals, artificial fertilisers, pesticides, irradiation or genetically modified organisms. Soil health is critical in producing wholesome organic produce. Only free-range animals are allowed in organic farming systems and the use of cages is not permitted. Holistic farm management techniques are integral to organic farming.

What is Certified Organic Produce?

Certified organic produce is produce that has been organically grown​, harvested, prepared and transported in systems that guarantee the produce is not contaminated by synthetic chemicals, genetically engineered material, been fumigated or irradiated. Produce must be labelled as "certified organic" with a registration number and a certifying body's name displayed prominently on it.

Certifying Bodies have been established in Australia and overseas to reassure wholesalers, exporters, retailers, and consumers that produce is organic. The Organic Industry Standards and Certification Council​ (OISCC) audits organic industry organisations against the requirements of the National Standard for Organic and Biodynamic Produce​ (Feb 2015) to ensure that the integrity of organic product is maintained.

Growth in Demand for Organic Food

Demand for organic food has increased dramatically over the past few years. Australia's organic industry (food and non food) is currently valued at just under 1 billion. Growth in some sectors continues to grow at a rate above 10% per year.

Organic Farming in Tasmania

Organic farms can be found Statewide and are involved in varying enterprises from wine to sheep's cheese. There are approximately a dozen large enterprises but the majority of the organic farms are small-scale operations where lifestyle and philosophy play a big part in the reason for being involved.

Colour photograph of freshly harvested cauliflowers.The industry is expanding but needs more large scale operators to achieve economies of scale to service national and international markets.

Demand is growing for organic products and returns are often higher which may offset possible lower yields. Many farmers value-add their produce and a new level of activity may be expected as larger organisations respond to demand from consumers.

The product produced during the first year or "pre-certification" phase has to be sold on the conventional market so the potential loss of yield is critical as no premiums are available. Once the property achieves "in conversion" status after one year, produce can be sold as "in conversion" at a small premium. This phase lasts two years. It takes a minimum of three years to fully convert to organic farming.

After several years of producing organically, yields can rise to pre-conversion levels as management improves under the new regime. With the premiums available for organic product, financial returns are comparable or exceed conventional farming.


Opportunities, Issues and Constraints in the Tasmanian Organic Industry

A 2005 report into the Tasmanian Organic Industry highlighted a number of industry related issues, with the major concerns surrounding the labelling of organic products and inconsistent supply.

The report, entitled Opportunities, Issues and Constraints - The Tasmanian Organic Industry, provides information concerning the general state of the industry, the major barriers to growth and potential for industry development.

The report details the views of 33 industry respondents and is intended to provide the foundation for further action and investigation. Interviewees were classified as retailers, growers/producers, wholesalers/distributors and processors. A representative sample from across the industry and state ranging in size and sector were chosen for the project. The questions examined both the supply and output side and also a general industry section allowing respondents to raise any other relevant issues.

Opportunities, Issues and Constraints - The Tasmanian Organic Industry (181 KB)


Contact

Organic Farming
Rebecca Williams
1 Franklin Wharf
Hobart TAS 7000
Phone: 03 6165 3070
Email: Rebecca.Williams@dpipwe.tas.gov.au

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