We are writing to you as constituents, businesses and producers that are involved in the organic industry across Australia. We ask you to support the future of our country’s clean and green reputation, and the urgency in preserving our ecosystems and local food security. The organic industry provides a model for the rest of agriculture, that is localised, transparent and without the additional dependency or high externality costs of conventional agriculture. Our industry needs your support – and we look forward to adding your voice to our charter.
For too long Organics had been thought of as a niche market or component of Agriculture, but if one takes a world view instead of looking at the microcosm of Australia, we have entities such as the EU wanting to transition 25% of their Agriculture to Organics by 2030 via The Green Deal and Farm to Fork initiatives
Organic and regenerative farming systems can:
provide a neutral or positive environmental impact with added benefit of providing co-benefits to the environment and humanity
help to mitigate climate change and adapt to its impacts that are already proven by scientific publications
reverse the loss of biodiversity via organic standard provisions and verified by academia indicating 30% more biodiversity on organic farms
ensure food security, nutrition and public health, making sure that everyone has access to sufficient, safe, nutritious, sustainable food production systems that have been vetted by good science.
preserve affordability of food while generating fairer economic returns, fostering competitiveness of the international supply sector and promoting fair trade
In so doing Organics addresses triple bottom line objectives including:- – Organic Farming enables and accelerates the transition to a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system. Government investment is required to address deficiencies in advisory services, financial instrumentsand more importantly participatory research and farmer led innovation are needed instrumentally as they can help resolve tensions, develop and test solutions, overcome barriers and uncover new market opportunities.
Value of the organic sector in Australia $3.65B(AU) and worldwide over $88B(AU)
Urgency of climate change and the direct impact on agriculture sector
Importance of biodiversity value and enhancement on private land
Synergy across different sectors including energy, agriculture, health
Rewarding land stewardship through ecosystem management outcomes
Pioneering industry and independent of Government (historically)
Established Net-Zero pathway for agriculture and business to transition
Key Requests from the Organic & Biodynamic Industry to the Federal Government:-
Rewarding producers for their ecological stewardship together with a simple mechanism to ascertain and transition carbon footprint beyond Net-Zero in agriculture and business
Ascertaining a biodiversity value on farmland and conversation area (private & public land)
State recognised Government bodies that support the growth of organic agriculture
Facilitate a Sensitive Site register provided by State Governments as part of ‘right to farm’
Endorse a roadmap in climate resilience, adaptation and long term business resilience planning for regional communities & local economies.
Invest in Research & Development for key biological outcomes across the agriculture sector
Provide regular and rigorous data capture through ABARES with tailored organic data for on-farm production, business, supply and export.
The time is now….
Agriculture in Australia is at a crossroads. Producers are attempting to increase their yields with reducing on-farm profitability while managing higher climate risk exposure than ever before. We need to capture premium markets (like organics) and empower producers with better business profitability and diversified income streams. Our Country needs best in class producers that are resilient against natural disasters and rewarded with better crops, profitable and diversified businesses, healthier and improved natural ecosystems. We need to review the existing farming model that reflects a more sustainable and resilient farming infrastructure that invests in the next generation of producers, better markets with full consideration of the impact on the environment.
True cost of ecosystem services in our waterways, agricultural land, biodiversity and food production should be clearly understood and be a driver of change
Research and Education on the importance of carbon reduction, repurpose and offset to underpin regional resilience and transition agriculture beyond net-zero
Opportunity to strengthen cross sector links between health, education, agriculture & economics
Structures that underpin the food security of our country ahead of dependency on large scale, low value commodity markets that may be affected by external pressures
With recent questions over the legitimacy of the Australian carbon offset scheme, it’s never been more important that carbon emissions are offset with legitimate credits and are free of greenwashing.
Unfortunately, few offerings in the market consider the natural environmental variables faced by the landowners generating the credits, and have the data transparency and accuracy required to inspire confidence that the investment is actually achieving its drawdown goal.
The farmer-owned credits are backed by extensive data collection and have been developed in accordance with the conditions, biodiversity and operations of each farm they’re provided by. Their transparency of data and the ability to directly purchase Eco-Credits from each farm means investors avoid the greenwashing associated with other carbon credit offerings.
ORICoop EO Carolyn Suggate said ‘All farms are assessed as to their suitability for the program, based on their existing farming practices, the area of the farm and the intentions of future management.’
“We don’t want producers to be at risk from any carbon credit program, to overstate their carbon drawdown, or to be exposed by a natural disaster or severe weather event should the carbon levels in their soil or biodiversity decrease,” Ms Suggate said.
These limits are a key part of the design- providing investor security, and lessening the risk of overstating any values, especially following farming challenges or natural disasters that can negatively impact soil carbon improvement efforts such as the extensive flooding occurring throughout NSW and QLD recently.
“Through a collective of the credits, ORICoop’s specialist advisory committee oversees each of the credit applications and validation reports. This includes assessing the management practices, the land management zones, the footprint of the farm business plus the soil testing and results. For each project we determine suitable buffers that enable producers to bank a portion of their credits – the credits are validated annually, and depending on buffer limits, a portion is liquidated at the producer’s discretion,” Ms Suggate said.
Each Eco-Credit represents 1 tonne of CO2 drawdown, in addition the credits represent measures each local organic producer has undertaken to actively improve soil carbon, water efficiency and biodiversity within their properties and farming practices.
Michael Coleman, Managing Director of Box Forest Consulting, said the costly setup and operating design of the ACCU market may be resulting in poor outcomes for both producers and investors.
“If it turns out that ACCU projects are not delivering contracted reductions, despite high costs of participation, that’s the worst of both worlds. Hopefully the regulator will improve market integrity, and not just by adding more layers of consultant reports,” Mr Coleman said.
“A simpler, more transparent certification process, with low verification costs, can also offer greater integrity. Certification gets done and reported in a way all users understand and accept. Voluntary Carbon Markets (VCM) should be designed with that in mind, which is what ORICoop has set out to achieve.”
Iain Smale, of Pangolin & Associates, said the Eco Credit will be popular for investors by providing other options for carbon credits which also offer a local impact, which is especially important given per-capita carbon emissions in Australia are amongst some of the highest in the world.
“With the Eco-Credit, you’re having a bigger environmental impact than just a carbon credit,” he said.
The environmental impact of our producer operations is key for Australian-owned organic dairy processor & manufacturer Paris Creek Farms. Paris Creek Farms’ Marketing & Communications Manager Alex Donovan said they are committed to increasing the sustainability of their operations, actively working with their producers to achieve this with Eco-Credits initially playing a vital part.
“With bio-dynamic and organic practices, we’re already using one of the most sustainable and regenerative methods of farming in the world, but we are striving to be even more sustainable. Our ultimate goal is to have our farmers generating their own Eco-Credits,” Ms Donovan said.
Ms Suggate said there are many ways the agriculture sector is transitioning beyond net-zero, and that collaboration to improve trust, legitimacy and the urgency for improving how sustainably we produce food is vital, especially after considering the ‘business as usual’ impact on the environment and the urgency of our changing climate as seen recently by some of the worst floods in history.
“We need science to be well funded to enable technology to be more accessible and trusted across the industry. This includes the measurement capability, satellite data, plus legitimate footprint data for farms across all commodities,” Ms Suggate said.
“In the meantime, our organic farming ORICoop members are dedicated to measuring and validating their soil tests and farm footprint. As their credits are validated, these producers form part of the organic farming ecosystem that invests into best practice, research and sustainability programs through a legitimate farmer-led carbon credit based on international guidelines,” she said.
“That includes soil carbon and biodiversity, rewarding producers for sustainable land stewardship practices, while offering these credits to businesses looking to offset their carbon footprint with legitimate credits that are traceable back to each farm that has generated them.”
If your business is committed to achieving net-zero, offset your carbon emissions directly with credits you can trust – register here now.
The first fully Australian farmer-owned carbon credits, the Eco-Credit, have just been released – with tangible benefits to local farmers, business, communities and the environment.
The Eco-CreditTM scheme was created by the Organic and Regenerative Investment Cooperative (ORICoop), which aims to unite the food value chain and increase the uptake of organic and regenerative practices across Australia by increasing collaboration between farmers, businesses and consumers.
Each Eco-CreditTM represents 1 tonne of CO2 positive emission drawdown, validated annually through rigorous testing, and are provided by ORICoop’s organic, net-positive regenerative farmers who run diverse farm businesses including dairy, cropping, livestock and mixed farming systems.
ORICoop EO Carolyn Suggate said that the Eco-CreditTM concept was developed by ORICoop in conjunction with farmers looking to advance farm system approaches to provide safe, secure and affordable food with a regenerative ecological impact.
‘The scheme links those farmers to external buyers, be that corporate, small business or Mum’s and Dad’s keen to play a role and do their bit in fostering sustainable practices and reducing their own carbon footprints’ Ms Suggate said. To activate carbon drawdown urgently we need all contributors to be empowered to participate.
Victorian farmer Stephen Whitsed is the first ORICoop producer to offer Eco-CreditsTM to the market, and aside from the environmental benefits can see immediate environmental, CSR, and other economic benefits for businesses, producers and local communities.
”It’s an environmentally-friendly credit that rewards organic producers and builds stronger connections between businesses and our on-farm practices that enable carbon benefits to be exchanged. As organic producers we are looking forward to demonstrating our on-farm practices that are increasing carbon drawdown and legitimise better environmental stewardship for the long term,” Mr Whitsed said.
Mr Whitsed said the Eco-Credit process is straightforward for farmers and ‘definitely beneficial’ to his farm and environmental management, and hopes investors will benefit from their transition beyond net-zero and the planetary impact.
“The validation process is through soil testing every year, including GPS points to ensure we soil test in the same place every year. Following that we send the soil samples to a laboratory to be tested, and wait for the results,” he said.
Farmer and organic industry advocate and researcher, Greg Paynter, sees a range of benefits the Eco-Credit scheme will provide, including environmental and ecosystem functioning, farm viability and improved social and mental health outcomes for farmers where stress is alleviated by the additional revenue stream provided by the scheme as a reward for best practice land stewardship.
“It’s a dividend that doesn’t come from production output, it comes from a different stream, the productive and regenerative capacity of the land,” Mr Paynter said.
“In Australia, we are striving for $100 billion worth of production from agriculture annually, but our understanding of the research that comes out of Canada, a very similar country to Australia, is they produce that amount, but 98% of it goes into the cost of production or services to provide that production, so the net profit or return on investment of effort is not very high,” he said.
“But if you value land stewardship and make it worth something, the production of food or fibre you get from the land is a reward and you do it in a manner of organic and regenerative production systems, that conserves the basis of the production system into the future. There is talk of only 60 harvests left in some places in Europe and the soil will be destroyed, so we need to act with urgency – and what the Eco-CreditTM does is offer an incentive to do something whilst still maintaining a living.”
Fourth generation Western Australian farmer and agroecological farm system advocate Mr David McFall said the Eco-CreditTM project links businesses who want to do better, and rewards practices to adjust to the changing climate that are not seen to be outwardly ‘commercial’, especially natural capital management like tree planting, increasing biodiversity and soil carbon and water works for habitat and land cooling.
“This is one mechanism that is farmer-derived and farmer-led. It ticks the boxes in terms of accessibility and linking people who have capacity with people who want to do things in the landscape,” Mr McFall said.
“It’s a journey we’re doing for very practical reasons, there’s farmers like Stephen Whitsed and myself who want to do better, but the ‘do better’ that’s asked of farmers is not necessarily an upfront conventional outcome. So this mechanism takes the risk out of the investment and becomes a shared journey as it connects people who want to see good done, but are perhaps urban-based or don’t have access to land, develop partnerships with a farmer,” he said.
“Each farmer is motivated at different levels, and the intelligence behind this system is that it’s not just carbon, it’s approaching it from an ecosystems services platform – that’s embracing revegetation, and in time will embrace cleaner water and air, and keeps toxic substances out of our food and agricultural production systems.”
Iain Smale, of Pangolin Associates, feels the release of the Eco-CreditTM will be popular for businesses, providing alternative options for carbon credits. He also expects they will raise awareness of the growing organic and regenerative agricultural industry in Australia working to capture carbon and mitigate the key drivers of climate change, which is especially important given per-capita carbon emissions in Australia are amongst some of the highest in the world.
“With the Eco-CreditTM, you’re having a bigger environmental impact than just a carbon credit,” Mr Smale said.
“Australia as a nation in the developed world has close to the highest per capita emissions. Per person it’s around 23-24 tonnes, NZ is around half that, and a lot of Europe is less than half that. It’s because Australia has two main drivers – we’re heavily reliant on fossil fuel, coal and gas generation and it’s the tyranny of distance – people have a lot of transport miles, including for heavy transport, trains and trucks, and we don’t have any high speed rail, so much of our economy is based on fossil fuel,” he said,
** To follow the Eco-Credit journey of this and other farms click HERE
Eco-Credits is a nationwide scheme open to organic and biodynamic producers. Other ORICoop farmers will shortly be stating their pledges and looking to develop partnerships with businesses and processors associated with their farm.
“Never has it been more necessary to find solidarity with those whose values align and more important to garner skills from those who have beaten the path before us. ORICoop with the support of BCCM have created an online workshop series to help us all build skills and community. With a 90% subsidy being offered by BCCM, a broad range of topics, guest speakers and interactive Q and A time on each gathering, its a low cost, high value offer that can all be booked and undertaken online by clicking here – book into one or all five”
The Co-operative Farming program offers a 90% bursary for this course. You can find out more and apply at https://coopfarming.coop/learn/educational-bursaries/. Subject to approval, you will receive a discount code that you should apply at the checkout, this will ensure your payment is reduced to 10%.
1. Community driven business structures – Thursday 3rd Dec 6.30pm-7.45pm 2020 and Thursday 10th December 6.30pm – 7.45 2020
Eager to connect with your fellow growers and find ways to get your food to a local, engaged and appreciative audience. Hear from those who’ve trodden this path already, hear first hand about their wins, challenges, growing pains and opportunities. Most importantly ask the questions which allow you to consider what will work for you and meet other growers and producers on a similar trajectory.
2. Getting to Know Your Region and Community – 4th February 6pm – 7.45pm and 11th Feb, 6pm – 7.45pm
While every community beats to a different drum, many follow similar patterns and the insights of others who’ve observed and engaged in community building is a valuable process to support you in your existing efforts or as a foundation of knowledge before you begin. Meet food system pioneers, leapfrog with their learnings and kickstart or reboot your own efforts to work collaboratively as a whole community.
3.Taking Your Collective Business Online – 25th March and 1st April, 6pm – 7.45pm
While we know the increasing influence of online marketplaces, Covid showed us just how powerful it can be for farmers wanting to diversify their paths to market, work collaboratively and be the price maker for their hard grown produce. Learn practical skills, loopholes and opportunities from those who’ve done it and specialise in supporting you to do it too.
4. Resilience in Your Business – 22nd April 2021, 6pm – 7.45pm
Business stability is about being diverse yet focussed, nimble yet strategic, committed yet open to change, having an excellent relationship with your market and always looking to the horizon of innovation and adaptation. Learn from farmers who’ve developed business plans in consideration of these complexities and seek advice and guidance relevant to your specific farming and business needs.
5.Transitional Ownership Pathways to next generation, 13th May 2021, 6pm – 7.45pm
Succession planning is one of the single greatest threats to farming enterprises yet when undertaken successfully, one of the most powerful and rewarding aspects. The complexity of building a successful succession plan is a well trodden path and our expert panel will share a diverse range of case studies of well executed plans, and some of the common pitfalls.
The Organic and Regenerative Investment Co-operative (ORICoop) is focussed on bringing together farmers, friends and businesses for the better. ORICoop exists to increase the productivity and profitability of organically and regeneratively managed land in Australia, while supporting farmers to be better land stewards of our ecological farming systems. We support organic and biodynamic farms to transition their agricultural businesses for the better. This builds a more resilient Australian food and farming economy that can change the way our farmers do business … for the long term.
WHAT IS THE CARBON FOOTPRINT OF YOUR BUSINESS?
We are excited to announce the creation of a direct Business-to-Farm carbon and ecological offset.
Bringing together farmers interested to drawdown carbon – and in the process offset the carbon footprint of business. Eco-Credits™ are a credible and definable instrument to measure ecological health, whilst enabling business to OFFSET their carbon footprint. A true WIN-WIN between conscious businesses and ecological farm stewards, that supports our planet for the long term better.
ORICoop has created Eco-Credits™ so conscious businesses and individuals can offset their carbon footprint, with direct, measurable and tangible outcomes. Eco-Credits™ are deployed to selected organic farmers who commit Eco-Credits™ to their farmland. These credits are independently and annually verified using the latest technology and measurement parameters. Each business receives a report provided by the collective of farm contributors each year – detailing what the Eco-Credit™ collective outcome has achieved in terms of carbon offset and ecological health.
Eco-Credits™ – ‘An ecological and farmer driven market instrument that offers a pathway to a stronger and more robust organic farming industry. That is empowered to withstand market pressures on farm production systems, together with sustainable and measured outcomes. Demonstrated via shorter supply chains, better food security, reliable market data, and a transparent market that enables farmers to achieve the best value for their work.’
Vitalise capital to connect business, food and farming for better long term outcomes
Enable farmers to benefit from the value of natural capital in their farming systems
Connect business and individual carbon offsets directly to farmers
Align with accredited stewardship measures and outcomes
HOW CAN FARMERS REGISTER FOR the ECO-CREDIT™ PROGRAM?
Farmers around Australia have a massive opportunity to draw down carbon into their farms both above and below ground through best practice ecological stewardship. Farmers can be rewarded for improving the land that they manage, and the carbon that is sequestered terrestrially via biodiversity enrichment and through an increase in soil organic carbon. Eco-Credits™ are deployed directly to organic and regenerative farmers – that are committed to increase the amount of carbon stored in their soil and to honour the value of water, soil, ecological health and biodiversity in their organic and agroecological farming systems.
Key measurable outcomes of Eco-Credits™ include:
Increase in sequestered carbon in soil, trees and biomass
Increase in biodiversity quality, area and ecosystem health