- The person pays a once-off joining fee ($50)
- The person has applied for 5 organic shares at $10 per share
- The person is able to use or contribute to the services of the co-operative
- Is supportive of the overall mission of ORICoop
The Organic Development Group (ODG) consists of eleven organisations including certification, consumer, investment, and advocacy associations, who have over the past seven months joined together for the specific purpose of achieving regulatory reform in the Australian domestic market. The ODG has met three times in person, once virtually and has convened two separate working groups to facilitate foundational work streams such as research and review of potential pathways towards the shared goal of domestic regulation. The ODG is a voluntary group with representation by 11 industry groups. The Secretariat is resourced by Australian Organic Llimited, NASAA Organic and Organic Industries Australia (OIA) and funded by Australian Organic limited and NASAA Organic.
The group’s success was witnessed by the Australian Government at the inaugural Parliamentary Friends of Organic in Canberra during Organic Awareness Month. The Parliamentary Friends group was founded by Dan Repacholi, Member for Hunter, and Aaron Violi, Member for Casey. During the event Minister for Agriculture Senator Murray Watt attended and spoke of the importance of our industry and bipartisan support was demonstrated by the inclusion of Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Leader of the National Party David Littleproud in the final formalities.
ODG representatives are standing shoulder to shoulder, calling for reform and working as a united front. It is a credit to the representatives and the Secretariat how much has been achieved in such a short period of time. Well done to the ODG representatives for putting the industry’s future first and making this critical progress.
Photo: Greg Paynter
Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum have joined international dignitaries and an array of the country’s top certified organic producers for a historic event at Parliament House to mark the formation of the Parliamentary Friends of Australia’s Organic Industry (PFAOI)
Recognising the certified organic industry’s development into a major export earner and economic driver that contributes $851m directly into the domestic economy, the barbecue lunch featured a range of certified organic produce and hosted the newly formed Organic Development Group (ODG).
The ODG brings together all of Australia’s certification bodies and key industry groups into one forum and presents a united voice on issues such as the need for domestic regulation of the word “organic” for clarity to consumers.
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Murray Watt, addressed the event and acknowledged the organic industry’s position as a major contributor to Australia’s image abroad as a producer of clean, green and high-quality produce and products.
“This industry is a core part of our agriculture sector,” Minister Watt said.
“As a government we’ve been particularly keen to focus on how we can be supporting the organics sector with its export efforts.”
“I know there was a very productive meeting held earlier today between representatives of the organics industry with the relevant departments to talk through some of the new and emerging export opportunities that we’ve been able to negotiate for our good organic products as well.”
PFAOI Co-chair, Aaron Violi MP, said establishing the group was an important step in elevating the industry.
“I used to work in the industry selling organic food and I’ve seen firsthand how the industry has grown over the last few decades and it’s an amazing industry that has big potential,” Mr Violi said.
“It’s already delivering a lot and there are things we need to do in this house to make sure that we can allow it to continue to grow.”
Australian Organic Limited (AOL) hosted the function which was attended by more than 200 people including Minister for Trade and Tourism Don Farrell, Leader of the Nationals David Littleproud, MPs, Senators, the Swedish Ambassador, and representatives from the New Zealand High Commission, and the United States and French embassies.
AOL Chief Executive Officer, Niki Ford said it was timely recognition for producers.
“Today is an important day for us as an industry,” Ms Ford said.
“September is traditionally Australian Organic Awareness Month, so it is great for us to be talking about the real reason you should be choosing certified organic products.”
“Organic is regenerative, organic is sustainable and organic production systems positively contribute to climate resilience and biodiversity.”
“Every organic operator who is certified has to go through a rigorous audit to substantiate their claims which underpins the importance of looking for certification marks.”
“But without domestic regulation you can have as little as one ingredient and still claim organic on your packaging in Australia. Research has shown about one-third of consumers have reported being misled by deceptive packaging so truth in labelling is an important issue for our industry.”
ORICoop Director Greg Paynter reflected on the event
“Whilst aware of the political issues of being around 3% of the agriculture production in Australia, it was pleasing to see the government and its agencies willing to listen to the concerns we face, but also to understand the benefit we can proactively assist with in the wider agriculture sector, in addressing externalities, traceability, profitability and biodiversity conservation (noting the dedicated biodiversity set aside system of the organic standard requirements to 10% of the land area of Australia’s Nation Park estate). ORICoop directors were able to talk to attendees from Government members and Department’s and fellow industry members in various forums regarding supply chain constraints and market opportunities both in domestic and export environments. Good contacts were made that are likely to benefit across the organic industry.”
ORICoop Director, Sandra Fishwick added her inspiration
“It’s important to recognise the value of Organic, green, clean soil and high quality foods while nurturing your health and building a future beyond the present”.
ORICoop Director, Carolyn Suggate outlined the following after the day.
“‘The future of our farming and environmental systems depends on the world transitioning to a better version of agriculture. The organic sector can provide much of this knowledge and demonstrates the increasing appetite from consumers for more integrity, provenance and trust in the food they desire. ORICoop is at the forefront of growing these markets and increasing the opportunity for organic growers across Australia. We are excited at the support shown by the Government and their interest to further the pathway for domestic regulation and integrity in the Nationally accredited organic standard. Not a moment too soon!”
The 11-member ODG, which includes all of Australia’s certification bodies and major industry groups provides a united voice to pursue domestic regulation of the word ‘organic’.
Organic Producer and Organic Industries Australia Director, Ian James, said it’s essential for the thousands of businesses that have gone through the process of certification.
“The whole industry is built around verification and certification of the organic claim, and this must be enforceable,” Mr James said.
“We have come together to create the ODG with the realisation that the only way forward for the organic industry to achieve domestic regulation is with the unity of one voice. Our future growth and prosperity are what is at stake.”
National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia General Manager, Alex Mitchell said it showed a maturing of the organic sector.
“This is an unprecedented commitment of the whole of industry in participating in not only the approach to policy development, but also in advocacy, such as the show of force at the event today,” Ms Mitchell said.
“It’s also critical to acknowledge the importance of bringing all the industry bodies together to listen to government so everyone can develop a common language for industry advancement.”
The ODG includes:
ORICoop has been in deep conversations with our members, producers, supply chain businesses and investors that are interested in a more sustainable and resilient food and farming system. We are keen to share our learnings – and to ask the question of the future of our food and financial systems. And what is the true colour of money?
Right now – Farmers around the country are innovating and transitioning quickly. Quicker in fact than Governments and Industry bodies realise. They are pressured by commodity prices, by wars overseas, by severe climatic events and rising interest rates. Yet with the current rising inflation – producers are not being paid much more than they were 5 years ago. Despite their costs increasing just like everyone else’s. Perhaps this is our new normal as outlined by The Guardian recently.
The elephant in the room is the consumer. The end buyer. The supermarkets. What people are willing to pay for healthy, local nutritious food. And has this split changed over the past 50 years – with regard to our lifestyles, work-life balance, debt and the priority of food over housing or other lifestyle choices. The deeper realisation of the value of health and how nutrient dense food affects the cost of maintaining good health.
What does this mean for farmers? This means that many producers (dairy and grain growers are good examples) are being asked to grow more volume per hectare of land than ever before. To the detriment of the nutrient density of the food and the land that it’s grown on. With the ambition to increase our agricultural production to over $100B from the National Farmers Federation. On land that is more expensive than ever in history with input and labour costs also at an all time high. And yet – the end price producers are receiving at the farm-gate is not that different to 10 years ago. In no way increasing comparative to the increased costs of food provided to consumers at the supermarket. Or linked to the highly profitable returns of the major supermarkets. The system is broken.
“The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways.” John F Kennedy
So, how do we change this paradigm? Global Domestic Product measures the increase of our economy, yet does it attribute the true cost of this economic measure. Or considering the profitability and productivity opportunity across Agriculture – if we measured this ‘true cost’ paradigm differently. With increased labour costs, some of the highest in the world. How can Australia sustainably grow food comparative to many other countries. Yes with some of the largest swathes of land in the world. Noting New Zealand has a subsidised Pacific Island labour program. Europe has a heavily subsidised agriculture sector. And the US has strong support for commodity based agricultural production systems. Is Australia being left behind? Should we have an incentivised land stewardship package? Or is there a risk we will be priced out of the market? Or have we not demonstrated our clean and green image well enough to the rest of the world? Should we be more focussed on feeding our population before selling into these larger world commodity markets that may actually be part of the overall problem.
ORICoop with our ORCA ‘Farmers Own’ brand is on a bold mission. To provide bulk organic products that streamlines a more efficient organic supply chain. That provides healthier food economically to more people. And ensures that producers are sustainably growing what the market is demanding. Keeping the supply chain efficient, nimble and ensuring that the grower and end buyer understand the different parameters of a complex supply chain.
We are determined to build a stronger domestic organic market. So food travels less distance to more people, is more affordable and has a stronger provenance story. It can be healthier, grown and transported with less of a carbon footprint and more of a conscious understanding of how it was grown. Organic products have market fluctuations based on seasons, based on the capacity to plant or harvest crops. It takes innovative producers to manage significantly different years – from 2019 (severe drought) to the last two years of abundant rainfall and flooding in some regions. What producers need is markets that work with their capacity to grow and innovate. And to ensure that products grown have the best opportunity into the market – not just the perfect looking apples, or premium 14% protein grains or only Autumn flush dairy milk. We must get better at growing, manufacturing and utilising food in a truly sustainable way that ensures we are efficient, less wasteful and understand the planetary boundaries of truly sustainable agriculture.
What does this have to do with the Colour of Money? For many years investors have invested into Agriculture as a straight property investment. Not to underwrite our food security or support transition to better land stewardship practices. What if we used ‘true cost accounting’ to reflect the invisible cost to consumers of ameliorating the cost of the externalities of the industrial food production system? To reconsider the lucrative returns of 12-14% year on year. With the plan to exit after 7-9 years with a real estate property acquisition that includes significant capital growth. They call it ‘ethical impact’. The reality is, most agricultural investments provide a low (3-5%) cash return on investment (ROI) annually with a higher proportion allocated to capital growth – in the range of 5 – 8% annually. But is this model truly sustainable? For our population? Or for the planet?
To underwrite our food security we need to measure capital differently. One that views food security and land stewardship as critical to our very survival. Economically but also metaphorically. Did you know that producers pay a higher rate of interest on farmland (property) than standard interest rates? Even though land is property with property security? The front porch is not very palatable when you’re wanting something to eat, it is a question of priority? Why are producers left to fend for themselves when markets fluctuate and do not always reflect the true cost of food production. If true cost accounting was used in real terms farmers would be considered to be slaves, when considering their net profit (outside of a real estate gain), comparative to other lucrative and increasing wage levels across essential industries. Walden Mutual in the US is a leading example of how investment can be done differently. We need models like this in Australia, urgently.
To change this paradigm, investors must passionately support a fairer food and farm transition with a deeper lense, beyond just a philosophical idea. Investors that are patient and driven by ethical, sustainable and reasonable returns that considers farmers, and the health of the land and the food we eat. Investors that are looking for a co-beneficial relationship that revolutionises food and farm systems in a sustainable and earth centric manner. To invest into food systems that are innovative, multi-layered, diverse and resilient for food, farming and community benefit. Food systems that have short supply chains and are not commoditised for the benefit of the large agri-business sector – but are driven by the needs of our communities. First and foremost.
The ORCA investment Phase 2 is opening for investment shortly. This is an exciting step for ORICoop. It provides opportunity for larger investors to participate in supporting infrastructure investment into localised organic supply chains – infrastructure that enables grain to be processed within shorter distances. Including grain that is grown in a more regenerative and sustainable manner – that includes cover crops, legumes and specialty grains (lupins a prime example). Rather than a commoditised wheat, oat and barley focus that depletes the carbon and nutrient bank in the soil if not managed well, and is significantly affected by world markets. This limits the growth of the organic sector that has much capacity to flourish and expand into these premium niche markets. Australia has more than 55M hectares of farmland that is certified organic farmland. That is more than half the world’s total certified land area. From that land our organic sector is worth more than $3.6B (according to the Australian Organic Market Report), noting the US market has just exceeded US$60 Billion for the first time in history (from less land area). The Australian market is growing at 12-14% annually. What if this increased to $5B annually, or by 20% year on year these dividends were reinvested to improve on-farm knowledge, supply chain knowledge and efficiency with strategic market development? Whilst addressing climate change mitigation, adaption and addressing biodiversity loss as additional dividends. Australia can be a leader in supplying Asian markets and the Middle East for quality organic food and fibre. While looking after our land and our regional communities.
What the food and agriculture sectors need is a new Colour of Capital. One that is driven by urgency, yet patient and compassionate to the seasonality of agriculture and food systems in a changing climate. That understands we are all in this together. Australia must get better at growing and processing local food at scale. Like our forefathers and mothers did. To rebuild and scale efficient and local processing capacity, and to re-energise food production that enhances regions for their climatic and farming strength. And to build and value community driven food systems for the better. To have an innovative investment capacity that exemplifies our strength of markets, our capacity to grow large volumes of product in a sustainable manner, our seasonal diversity and access to land.
The world needs a different Colour of Capital that builds long term impact for the better. If you are interested in finding out more you can complete the EOI here.
Written by Carolyn Suggate,
Executive Director of ORICoop
E – Carolyn’s email
** Photo Credit – David McFall
The little known lupin is likely the most powerful superfood you’ve never heard of. While lupins have been used as a food for as much as 6000 years in the Andean highlands and over 3000 years around the Mediterranean, they are slowly making their way onto supermarket shelves in Australia and around the globe. Meanwhile, farmers are recognising their multiple advantages in both sustainable cropping systems and as a high-protein addition to animal feed.
With over 200 species, lupins are grown in a wide array of regions across the globe, ranging from the Mediterranean to the southwestern United States, northern Mexico to both eastern and western parts of Australia. Two varieties of lupin are most commonly grown in Australia, with the majority of lupin production occurring in the winter/spring rain-fed parts of southwestern Western Australia. Australia produces about 730,000 metric tonnes of lupins per year, the equivalent of approximately 80–85% of the world’s lupin production. About 30% are used domestically within Australia, while approximately 70% are exported to Asia, North Africa and the Middle East for animal feed. As a high-protein grain, lupins are most commonly grown and harvested for human and animal consumption, yet they also hold many advantages in both cropping and mixed cropping–livestock farming systems.
Farmers can enrich their soil naturally by planting an annual that produces a kaleidoscope of pea-like flowers with bold spikes of vibrant purples, pinks and blues, rich reds and yellows, or crisp, clean whites, attracting a range of pollinators including bees and butterflies. In regenerative cropping systems, lupins produce a significant nitrogen contribution for subsequent crops in soils. They provide a disease break for cereal crops and can help control grass weeds within well planned cropping sequences. With taproots that stretch deep into the earth, lupins are drought-tolerant and also help break up compacted soil. When lupin plants die back, the taproots slowly break down, increasing the organic content in the soil, helping the soil retain water. These combined benefits can increase the yields of cereals following lupin crop rotation, particularly when grown in sandy soils.
The nutrient content of lupin grain, in protein, amino acid, energy and mineral levels makes it both a nutritional and economical addition to stock feed formulations. Among the various grain legumes used in stock feed, lupins can be used as an alternative to soybeans and are highly regarded as feed for poultry, pigs, ruminants, and fish. Research has shown that replacing soybean meal with lupin meal as an alternative poultry protein feed source reduces cost of production and improves poultry egg productivity. In other studies, using lupin grain in feed rations has been shown to increase the milk production of beef and dairy cattle. It can be more valuable to include in the diet than cereal grain because it tends to not lower the fat content of milk (as high levels of cereal grains may do). Researchers have also investigated the potential for lupin grain to be used as a plant based feed source in aquaculture operations and found that lupin was particularly useful for fish diets because of the highly digestible level of protein, good levels of digestible energy and highly digestible phosphorus.
While the crop is grown mostly to produce stock feed, there is a small, but growing market for lupin grain for human consumption. Lupins are slowly growing in popularity among consumers due to their many health benefits: protein-rich, highly nutritious, sustainable, and versatile, lupins are a powerhouse of goodness. They are one of the richest sources of plant protein and fibre (at least twice as much as other legumes) and packed full of nutrients and antioxidants including thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and zinc. Eating lupin beans has been linked to lowering blood pressure, improving blood lipids and insulin sensitivity and favourably altering the gut microbiome in studies. The Australian food industry is beginning to recognise the value of lupin and a range of lupin products are now available, including whole lupin flakes, flour, crumb, semolina, or enriched food products such as pasta, cereal and cookie mix.
ORICoop has been working with key organic growers in Western Australia and the Riverina – to expand and diversify their crop selections to include lupins. This provides producers a unique and valuable intercrop option – and enables a strong cash crop for organic dairy and poultry producers. ‘There is a strong appetite for lupins as a livestock feed, and with our Farmers Own ‘ORCA’ Brand we are pushing through the barriers to get bulk lupins from growers to end users in Victoria, Southern Australia and Queensland. Our next ambition is to tap into strategic export markets. This legume has a well deserved place of prominence in the organic and regenerative cropping market – and we are looking forward to it’s initiation across the Australian organic sector’ says Carolyn, ORICoop Executive Director
Ian and Jodi are well experienced with growing lupins in Western Australia. And are thriving in growing them under an organic system. ‘Lupin crops play a pivotal role in the viability of organic and regenerative farming systems in Western Australia. They present to the farmer a range of critical advantages over other crop rotation options available such as suitability in deep acid sandy soils, excellent nitrogen fixation capability, disease resistance and disease break for other crops, impressive stockfeed quality and volume of post harvest residues and competitive demand and value of lupin seeds.
Nitrogen is typically applied to a crop in the form of urea, and although urea application can result in vigorous crop growth it has a hidden destructive action on soil health and long term fertility that requires additional fertilisation to overcome. Organic and regenerative farming systems limit or prohibit the use of urea for this reason. Lupins can fix similar levels of nitrogen from the atmosphere directly into the soil naturally and even increase soil health making them the goto natural fertiliser for the environmentally conscious consumer and farmer. The lupin seed and after harvest crop residues provide an additional benefit of an outstanding high value stockfeed source for grazing ewes and lambs. Ewes and lambs grazing or being fed lupins outperform those running on grass crop feeds and harvest residues providing substantially more lambs and reach market weight far quicker than those running on grass crop grains and residues.
With its unique macro and micro nutrient composition, there is growing evidence that incorporating lupin ingredients into animal and human diets can have direct health benefits. On farms, the benefits range from improved soil structure and water efficiency to increased yields and profitability. With its wealth of advantages, lupins are fast becoming a key ingredient in sustainable agriculture and sustainable diets.
To enquire about bulk lupins you can contact ORICoop HERE
Story written by Eva Perroni
Greetings to all ORICoop Subscribers,
Woah the rain in the South! Thinking of all the producers that have had a busy period getting crops in before this drenching rain. We, in the snow country and juggling calving cows and snow conditions right now!
A quick update from ORICoop. We have been head down with our ORCA capital raising over the past month and navigating bulk organic grain supply across our National producer and buyer network. Together with expanding the ORCA marketplace to better meet the needs of grain producers, buyers, manufacturers and key expanding grain markets in Australia.
ORCA Investment Opportunity
Have you completed your EOI for Phase 1 of the ORCA investment project? We are proceeding with our investment strategy based on the EOI’s received to date. We have identified key infrastructure opportunities – that will provide more options for the organic grain sector in partnership with some of our key producer members across Southern Australia. This means we will be able to manage and process organic grain more locally and efficiently and increase the diversity of crops that organic producers in the southern states can grow and sell. A win-win outcome!
We have also identified new markets for existing bulk grains which is super exciting for organic grain growers keen to expand their business! We will be in touch with our ORCA members directly regarding organic grain demand and planning for the next season based on this demand. If you are interested in being an ORCA supplier – make sure you contact us at email@example.com (and join ORICoop!)
The three components of the ORICA Phase 1 investment project include:-
Have you heard about ORICoop? We are ambitiously frustrated by the barriers across organic supply chains. For both producers and for buyers, manufacturers and those building strong organic brands. As a National Organic Cooperative – we believe that together we are stronger and can overcome these barriers through a more coordinated and sophisticated approach. Come and join our growing network of over 200 organic producer members. Across States, Commodities and different farming and business systems.
You can join HERE – https://www.organicinvestmentcooperative.com.au/membership/. And include your business in our Member Directory.
As an ORICoop member you get access to:-
Any questions regarding ORICoop membership please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can keep up with our latest news via our blog here – https://www.organicinvestmentcooperative.com.au/blog/
Until next time,
The ORICoop Team