Concerns for the future of New Zealand’s domestic organic industry have dampened enthusiasm for the Organic Products Bill which returned from Select Committee with some significant and useful changes, says the Soil & Health Association.
“We represent the thousands of people buying, growing and selling organic products,” says Soil & Health’s general manager Pete Huggins.
“This bill will be a huge step forward for organics in New Zealand and it’s vital we get it right. Consumers, producers and retailers all want a robust system of organic verification that drives confidence and growth in organics.
“We don’t think the verification regime being imposed by MPI is the correct one. This was not the scheme we were consulted on and isn’t our preferred option. It poses risks around cost increases that the domestic industry will struggle to bear. We think MPI have misunderstood what is required here, and are failing to listen to feedback.
“We know the whole organic sector is committed to working with the government to make this Bill the best it can be. At the moment our main concern is to nurture and enhance the domestic industry under this new regime. It would be a tragedy if the incoming regulation hampered efforts to grow food more sustainably.
“Organics is booming internationally, and our export sector should thrive under this new system. But we need to see assurances that the domestic industry will be supported and not undermined through increased cost and bureaucracy.
“The Select Commitee has already improved the bill significantly and we look forward to engaging with the government further.”