The Green Party and the Government, in their post election agreement, indicated that they would work together to better support New Zealand's organics industry by increased funding for advisory services for organic farmers.
In collaboration with Organics Aotearoa New Zealand (OANZ) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), the Greens proposed a Budget bid to establish an Organic Sector Advisory Programme which the Minister of Agriculture Jim Anderton supported.
The $2.15 million Organic Sector Organic Programme will run for over three years. $550,000 in 2006/7 and $800.000 for each 2007/8 and 2008/9.
Its aim is to better productivity on organic farms and orchards and to increase the rates of those converting to organic production by increasing farmers' access to advice and improving the capacity of people who provide professional advisory support.
The programme will be funded by MAF and coordinated by OANZ, which is presently consulting with the sector and will finalise the programme by May 2006.
The advisory service being funded in this year's Budget is likely to include:
- demonstration farms
- mentoring of new organic farmers by experienced ones
- workshops and short courses on organic production
- an Internet based consulting service.
It will also have a research component integrated into it.
The Organic Sector strategy has a goal of increasing Organic production to $1 billion by 2013.
This budget bid will help the industry expand, possibly by up to 200 farmers per year.
It follows on from support the Greens have previously secured for organics including:
- The Small Farm Organic Certification Scheme
- The development of a strategy for the organic sector
- The development of national standards.
Much of this was accomplished while former Green MP and organic farmer, Ian Ewen-Street, was a member of the Primary Production Select Committee, which held an Inquiry into the Organic sector in 2000.
Currently, organic farms currently account for just 0.24% of farmland in New Zealand compared with 12.9% in Austria, 6.8% in Sweden and 4.3% in Germany.
Organic farming is more energy efficient and produces less greenhouse gases than conventional farming so has benefits in fuel cost savings and reduced climate change problems as well as improved water quality, animal welfare and biodiversity.