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New Zealand takes a major step towards regulating organic products with the signing of the Organic Products Bill

Pretoria Gordon
PretoriaGordon v7
Organic farming gets a boost in New Zealand with the passing of the Organic Products Bill.  Pretoria Gordon

New Zealand has recently signed the Organic Products Bill to ensure that all organic products are properly regulated and labelled.

From now on, all organic products must be certified by a recognised body, and a new framework is in place to regulate them.

The Green Party has been pushing for mandatory organic standards for years, so they say they are delighted that the bill has passed. Green Party agriculture spokesperson Teanau Tuiono says having clear, trusted, national organic standards is essential. That way, people can have confidence in the products they buy.

"Organic farming has an important role to play to support a food system that enhances soil and water quality, helping transition Aotearoa to a thriving and sustainable agricultural sector that's good for people and the planet."
Teanau Tuiono

Until now, the market has been based on trust, with only voluntary standards in place. But even though there is yet to be a universal and standardised approach to certification, the sector has been trying hard to meet the highest possible standards.

The Organic Products Bill has been developing since 2020 and covers everything related to the organic industry, such as how things are made, processed, labelled and certified.

The organic industry has been growing steadily in recent years due to rising consumer demand for organic products, a growing consciousness of the health and environmental benefits of organic farming, and the development of new technologies and farming practices that have made organic farming more efficient and cost-effective.

According to the New Zealand Organic Market Report 2020, the organic sector is worth $600 million and is growing at a rate of eight per cent per year. The report also found that 74 per cent of Kiwi shoppers buy organic products, the most popular being fresh produce, dairy and meat.

Even though the Bill is intended to improve things for consumers and businesses, some organic producers are worried that it will make things harder for them. Nick Clark from Federated Farmers of New Zealand says he has concerns about the extra rules and costs.

"Regulations under the Bill must be practical and workable for organic producers to avoid negative impacts on the industry."
Nick Clark

While he thinks that organic production is important and supports the choices made by farmers who wish to farm and market organic products, the new rules may need to be revised to make it easier for organic producers to follow.