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
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.
I awoke this morning with a lump in my throat. Hoping that the IPCC report didn’t confirm what we have all known. Some have known for decades. Others since the last natural disaster they or their business has had to endure. What are we to teach and pass onto our children, if it cannot be the urgency and need for us to curb our desire for more and more, with less and less concern or consideration for the earth and its planetary boundaries. Like a mother that feeds its young – sometimes almost to her own detriment. So what does our country look like if a 1.5 degree rise by 2030 is in fact true. What does it mean for our Pacific neighbours? For our communities still in recovery from the last drought, bushfires or floods?
Organic Agriculture – the Next Generation..
With the Prime Minister announcing his ‘big moves’ to be in technology and hydrogen. These ‘big moves’ although positive, come directly from the more production, higher yields, cheaper prices and commodity-capitalism mindset that got us into this mess in the first place. I gasp for air, as I know personally the number of farmers and producers that are farming our land and feeding our nation that know agriculture is a huge part of the solution – if it were managed correctly with the right incentives for exemplary regenerative land management over time.
Farmers and producers have been at the coal face of planetary boundaries for years. Since Australia made its last feeble commitment to reducing our carbon footprint in 2005, I personally can recall enough bushfire events (from Black Saturday to the horrific events of the last Black Summer), to the worst floods in history, unprecedented cyclones, droughts and extreme natural disaster events across our country. Too many to count on one hand, and should be too many for any producer to endure in one lifetime that alone in just 15 years. What if we only have 60 harvest years left, what if the degradation of soils and water systems could be our last frontier? Climatic change is upon us, urgency has surrounded us, and together we can watch with fear, act with courage, or pretend that someone else will be the change we are desperately hoping for. I hope that you will call on your courage to be the change. We need you now.
ORICoop together with many contributors, advisors, farmers, producers, experts in their field and businesses are seeking to act on this urgency. One step at a time. Now. We encourage you to take as many of these steps as you can.
Know your footprint – for your business, your household, your school
Reduce your footprint
Install solar, reduce your fossil fuel use
Reduce business and household waste
Reduce car/fuel use
Buy more food seasonally
Support local businesses with less of a footprint
Check food labels (less imports)
Reuse and Recycle fashion
Plant a garden, grown your own
If you are a farmer ….. (this one’s for you!)
Assess your farm sustainability footprint (ask us how)
Provide your children’s teachers with practical solutions for the kids (not just fear)
Speak to your local MP, State MP, Federal MP about key outcomes
Vote for a better world!
Today’s news pulls no punches. For some the glimmer of hope lies in our pastures, in the soil, in the biodiversity and ecosystem that we all should take responsibility to look after. Every meal we eat. Every farmer we know. We all need to be part of the urgency in planetary care, of as much carbon drawdown as possible, and as little leach into the atmosphere as we can manage in our daily lives. You’re part of it. As is your community.
As a climate scientist, I’d like you to know: I don’t have hope. I have something better: certainty.
We know exactly what’s causing climate change.
We can absolutely 1) avoid the worst and 2) build a better world in the process.
Environmental Sustainability Goals (ESG’s) In Quarter 2 alone, the European Union has amended three major financial, investment, and insurance regulations to include “sustainability” (2021/1256, 2021/1255, 2021/1257). The SEC has formed a 22-person enforcement task force focused on scrutinizing Green Investments & Climate-Related Disclosures. Even the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO), which groups market regulators from the United States, Europe and Asia, found that the Trillions of ESG-related investments are burdened with different frameworks, key indicators and metrics, relative weightings as well as qualitative judgement. We need business to lead with united values and urgency.
At the core of Eco-Credit is the simple idea that data should be collected at the farm level, and that this data remains the property, and under the control, of the farmers. For the long term benefit, and to reward their land stewardship practices for carbon drawdown and preserving natural capital. To actively demonstrate the capacity of every farmer and land steward to be part of a key part of our drawdown mission – one farm at a time. With the ability to directly offset organic processors, businesses and financiers footprint – with full traceability and transparency.
About ORICoop ORICoop is a National Cooperative of organic and biodynamic farmers. Of businesses and people that care about food, farms, people and the planet. Together we can be the leaders of powerful systemic change, to bring value back to producers and landholders at the face of this risk, and demonstrate with our actions to uphold the provision of safe food and habitat for all planetary communities. And for business to invest in this change, with the urgency of our future as the wind in their sails. We believe through connecting land, people, business and ethical values we can be strong allies and enact solutions that together can be the change we all hope for. And our children need to believe it will be enough.
ORICoop engages with Organic and Biodynamic Farmers collectively to demonstrate the direct relationship between healthy food, healthy farms and a healthy planet. Did you realise that organic agriculture can and should be a leader in the mitigation of carbon drawdown? See this latest article from FIBL on Organic Farming & Climate Change. A summarised list of these key features included here:-
Organic agriculture has considerable potential for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.
Organic agriculture in general requires less fossil fuel per hectare and kilo of produce due to the avoidance of synthetic fertilizers.
Organic agriculture can improve soil fertility and nitrogen supply by using leguminous crops, crop residues and cover crops.
The enhanced soil fertility leads to a stabilization of soil organic matter and in many cases to a sequestration of carbon dioxide into the soils.
This in turn increases the soil’s water retention capacity, thus contributing to better adaptation of organic agriculture under unpredictable climatic conditions with higher temperatures and uncertain precipitation levels.
Organic production methods emphasizing soil carbon retention are most likely to withstand climatic challenges particularly in those countries most vulnerable to increased climate change.
Soil erosion, an important source of CO2 losses, is reduced by organic agriculture and as a consequence prevents the loss of energy that would occur due to the embedded energy used in industrial agricultural systems.
Organic agriculture has the capacity to provide one (1) calorie of food energy for every calorie of energy utilized to produce that food. Typically industrial agriculture requires twenty (20) calories of energy primarily sourced from fossil fuel to produce a calorie of food, hence a higher carbon footprint
Organic agriculture can contribute substantially to agroforestry and mixed production systems.
Organic systems are highly adaptive to climate change due to the application of traditional skills and farmers’ knowledge, soil fertility-building techniques and a high degree of diversity.
The Way Forward
Our practical actions of supporting organic and biodynamic producers in our everyday lives is a key part of the solution to mitigating our climate emergency and carbon drawdown as a country. At ORICoop we believe the more farmers that produce food more sustainably, the more land that is managed in a carbon negative manner and the healthier the food is, with a lesser carbon footprint. It means taking responsibility and action for your business footprint as part of being a responsible citizen. Every business and family can reduce their footprint and have an impact – and then offset what you can not reduce. It means that we urgently need to own the overshoot of our lives. Of business. Of agriculture. And drastically make changes today that can peel back the damage our excess of the last 50+ years has created.
To find out more or to be involved in ORICoop you can join HERE.
We know it’s been a rough year for many. We are rallying support in the last days of the financial year towards organisations that continue to ‘do good’ through these tough times. Here is our hot list for any tax deductible donations that align with your values …..
* Invest your funds to enable ethical and sustainable returns that don’t cost the earth
Could your business achieve Net-Zero by EOFY 2021?
We are urgently calling on all ethical, organic, conscious businesses to aim for Net-Zero by the End of this Financial Year. Let’s show some love for our planet! Here is how you can start your journey….
* Calculate your carbon and environmental footprint * Choose credits that align with your business values * Reduce your footprint through best practice sustainability
Our newly released Eco-Credits can help you achieve this – while directly benefiting organic producers that are increasing the carbon across their farm businesses. Key outcomes include:-